Yesterday I completed my first century ride. The ride started at 7:30am and right before the start, rain started coming down. It actually rained for most of the ride. I didn’t mind the rain a bit because it cooled everything down considerably. What would have been a hot ride in the mid-upper 90’s (F) ended up being in the upper 70s. I was even cold at a couple of the rest stops.
I started out riding with fellow LUNA Chix teammate Stella and another woman, Frith, who comes to our rides a lot. The first 25 miles relatively flat and wet. The rain subsided as we rolled into the first rest stop, which had an awesome selection of food: pb&j bagels, peanut butter bagels, cantaloupe, peaches, watermelon, pineapple, muffins, cookies, brownies, and fig newtons. It was awesome. I fueled up and filled my bento box for snacking on the road.
From the 1st rest stop my group split up because Stella was only doing the 62 mile ride. So me and Frith teamed up with another Luna Chix, Karla. We rode together for the rest of the 75 miles forming a 3-person paceline. We were a great team, taking turns pulling and resting.
After that first rest stop, the 3 different routes (35, 62, and 101) split up. Our route got very hilly. It was tough. It proceeded to rain on and off for the rest of the ride and at around mile 70 there was a hard downpour that slowed us down considerably and made it difficult to see. Water from the wheel of the person in front would release a spray right into the person behind’s eyes.
The route for the century took us onto some very desolate areas. We had no idea where we were and we didn’t see any other riders for the most part. One thing that was disturbing was that we didn’t see a single SAG (support) vehicle after the first rest stop. I was glad I wasn’t alone. With the rain, the clouds, and the emptiness I would have been scared and lonely.
The Mental Challenge
The thought of riding 100 miles is very daunting. My farthest ride before the century was 67 miles and I thought that was hard. Riding a century is on my bucket list though so I tried not to think about what I was doing when I got there. I told myself it was just another bike ride.
What also helped was to break up the ride into 20ish mile segments. Each rest-stop was approximately 20 miles apart from the next so when we got to each rest stop, we rested, ate, drank, and told ourselves said, “I can ride another 20 miles.”
It was hard to keep a good mindset all the time though. Sometimes, when we would hit a big hill or when I had to pull in a headwind I would just think “this sucks!” and want to quit. But then I would try and focus on getting to the next rest stop.
Anyway I made it! It was challenging physically and mentally but I don’t think it will be my last century. After all, from my experience, the farther you go, the easier it is to go even further.