Friday, August 7, 2009

Ciento, εκατό, cento, hundert

Hope you know your world languages...


One hundred as in my first century. Indeed, after 5 years on a bike, I finally did a century ride. (This post is a couple weeks late, however).

The story is quite simple. For quite some time, riding a century has been a goal of mine. Just this June, I rode 80 miles on my mountain bike. I'm in the best shape ever. My rocketship of a bike is so comfortable. All the cards were in place. (dun, dun, dun...foreshadowing)

Not quite even a week after returning from Downieville, Allison threw out the idea of doing a century, with Justin mapping out the route. I assumed a two-peat of the Cool and Easy 50, their signature, relatively flat coastal jaunt. Well, you know what happens when you assume ;) Justin forwarded the route to us.

It didn't take me long to figure out that it was going to take us inland. On a very hot day. Over lots of hills. Gulp.

You see, I gulped because the crew that I'd be riding with was stacked: Justin & Allison...king & queen of training/racing; Luke...getting ready for an Ironman; Jeff...he uses those 8 foot long legs to his advantage, and Dan...the training sandbagger. That left me feeling like, uh, the Robo-Anchor.

As it turns out, Century Fail #1 was soon upon us. We met up at the end of the San Luis Rey bike path early on Saturday morning and quickly discovered that Dan (borrowing my old road bike) never even thought to check the pedals. After calling several area shops, he & Jefe jumped in the car and raced over (literally) to Performance, the only shop open within miles at 9 am on a Saturday. New pair of Crank Bros. pedals in hand, they were back quick as lightning.

All was finally moving along until: Century Fail #2. The allen key needed to remove the old SPD's was a size that NOBODY had a wrench for. Fantastic.

Dan, however, showed just how tough he is...he rode almost 50 miles NOT CLIPPED IN. To those who don't know cycling, this doesn't sound awful until you consider this: his CB cleats were precariously perched on top of the Shimano pedals (which are like greased lightning). Any pressure applied the wrong way or surprise bump would be enough for one's feet to go slip-sliding violently off. Nevertheless, he did not complain. Not even once. The plan was to find a shop in Esco where he could borrow an allen key and switch the pedals.

I digress.

We finally got rolling, and it was already hot. The pace was already solid. We basically rode in a huge figure 8 from Oceanside inland toward Valley Center, then back out to the coast, down to Leucadia, back inland to Rancho Bernardo, back out to the coast at Carlsbad and then back to Oceanside.

True to form, Justin picked a route with lots of hills. My Garmin put the ascent at nearly 7000' on the day. Not bad for 110 miles, but still no Cool & Easy 50.

Almost immediately, I couldn't hang on the climbs and was off the back.

My legs were so heavy and wouldn't open up. I kept plugging away, but it was hard to look down and see nary 20 miles gone by, sweating through my jersey, the sun leathering my arms and neck.

Once we hit Valley Center, we passed through a construction zone that had been so nicely paved ahead of our arrival. The fumes were noxious and nauseating. Zipping down that hill was worth it, though. We turned south and down the I-15 frontage road. Allison flatted, and the group sought shade under a stand of trees. Looking up the road, I had a good view of what awaited. A couple miles of uphill, no shade. Knowing that I would be mentally beaten down if I waited for the train to leave and dropped off the back, I forsook my shade/rest and kept on going. I think I was going 12-13 miles per hour. It felt like eternity to get up that hill. Each minute, especially as I neared the top, I kept expecting the group to catch up. Just as I crested the top, I noticed that my front end was behaving oddly. A flat. Damn!

The group caught up right about then, and Justin kindly helped me change my tire. It had to be nearly 100 degrees out there, and everyone else rolled through to hit up the AM/PM on the other side of the freeway. I have to admit, Gatorade and M&Ms never tasted so good!

Back out to the coast...almost. Century Fail #3 was upon us. After navigating through Esco, we found a Sports Chalet to attempt removal of Dan's SPDs in favor of the CB he was carrying in his pocket. After much confusion on the employee's part and what seemed like forever, they got it done. We all, I think, felt like the century was not going to happen. It felt late, and we weren't even halfway done.

Before I knew it, though, we were back at the coast.
The group was pushing a good pace. We passed the state beaches and were on our way to Pannikin when an idiot in an SUV decided that he was going to be a jackass. Seriously people, you are waiting for a parking spot, not $1 million. In any case, Dan & I literally bailed off the road (into sand, thank god) as this jerk took out his frustration on us. Seriously, though I love the coast, I can't stand the bike-ignorant people who drive there.

Pannikin soothed my nerves, though.

The muffin and iced coffee that I ate literally saved my ride.

We all quickly debated going back to the car or heading out for the rest of the century. After all these fails, could we overcome? Justin was like, "I'm going. Whoever wants to can follow me." I thank him for that!

I came alive in the second 50 miles. Finally, as we turned back east in Leucadia, I was feeling strong. We rode out through the north side of RSF and up Del Dios Highway.

We stopped at a CVS to fuel up again. The group was quiet and looking kind of beat down.

I loved the next part of the ride through Harmony Grove.

Huge oak trees, shade, a downhill-ish grade. It was fun and fast. Unfortunately, all things that go down must eventually go back up in the world of bikes. All I can say is that the hill up to San Elijo sucks hugely. I was feeling strong, but it was never-ending.

On our way back to Carlsbad, my motor kicked in. I was rockin' and rollin'. Who knew it would take me 80 miles to warm up?!?

I rode with Jefe some...he was back on the long ride after taking major time off for his knee to heal up. Props to him for sticking it out. Once we crested the hill, and I saw the Carlsbad power plant, I knew we were home free. We stopped at a 7-Eleven for more water. Jefe and I got slurpees...coke slurpees. Normally, I would avoid this at all costs...HFCS is evil. But, after 90 miles in the saddle, it tasted like no other.

As we crusied back up through Oceanside, I hit 100 miles. We all let out a "woo" and everybody congratulated me (being the only one who was a century virgin when we started). The San Luis Rey bike path went by in a flash, and we were done. :)

110 miles. Nearly 7000' of ascent. About 7 hours of ride time. Not too shabby indeed.

Since we had so many ride fails, Luke, Allison and Justin had to jet. Jefe was going home to celebrate with a brew. Food was about the only thought on my mind! Olive Garden was the solution to my hunger problem, so we loaded up on salad, breadsticks and pasta.

I can now cross century off my to-do list. But what new goal will take its place? We'll have to see about that one :)

1 comment:

Hua said...

Congrats on your century ride! Hope you had a good journey... You should be very proud of your achievement. Your blog is a great inspiration for those wanting to establish a goal in their biking lifestyle, and I’d love for you to share your past and upcoming experiences with others through Wellsphere’s HealthBlogger Network (HBN). With the HBN, you can connect with other [people who have accomplished the same goal] and encourage those who wish to follow in your path.

For more information about joining, check out or feel free to e-mail me at hua [at] wellsphere [dot] com.



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