I rode my first century of the year yesterday. Last year by this time I had already been on 3 rides of 100 miles or longer. This year I haven’t had the time or inclination to do many longer rides. In fact my longest ride this year up to yesterday had been the metric century at Tour de Corn. Making matters even worse is the fact that in the last couple of weeks I’ve only ridden my bike a handful of times. In short I was getting rusty.
Jones has been jonesing to ride a century for awhile so we planned it for Sunday. I sent out an email and had one other taker, Tom. Tom had rode the Dirty South 100K with us earlier in the year and found it shockingly hard, though he finished it. He has been riding continuously since then and was eager to do a another hard ride.
My Mom and Dad decided to embark with us for the first 30 miles so our group of 5 left Harrisburg. Now typically when I ride a century I like to leave early, like 6 AM, but Jones had to work late so we left at 8AM. Normally a long ride in August leaving at 8AM is a recipe for heat stroke but temperature stayed around 84 even in the afternoon so it worked out great.
We had a fun social group with lots of a talking and whatnot while Mom and Dad were with us and then when they turned back we rode a little harder and pacelined some. We took our first break at a convenience store in Carmi where I spent 8 dollars on food. I could hardly believe I had spent that much, a coke, a gatorade, some chex mix, and some peanuts and a stick of beef jerky. Tom was getting a kick out of my “fueling strategy.”
The route took us to historic Shawneetown then North until making a square back to Harrisburg. It had about 2000 feet of climbing in 100 miles and is probably about the flatest century ride that one could do in Southern Illinois. I did this same route in 2010 with the goal of doing it under 6 hours, but didn’t even come close. I wanted to finish the ride in under 6 hours yesterday but as it got closer to ride time I realized it wasn’t really that big of a deal how long it took as long as we had fun.
Jones had brought much of his own food, making his own energy bars and energy gel. The gel was a mixture of brown rice syrup, honey, water, and lemon flavoring, he was using a lemon squeeze bottle to carry it. Ingenious. I went to take a picture but found the battery of my camera was dead.
I was beginning to hurt pretty bad for the last 20 miles. mostly my saddle area. My back which has often bothered me on longer rides felt surprisingly good. I have a theory on that, speed skating forces you to bend at the knees and back, its much like getting in a low aero profile on a bike, except for there is nothing to hang on to for support. I think this has helped with my back pain.
It was a great group and a great ride, but I was very glad to be finished and get out of the sun and off a bike. I enjoyed the ride and am glad I did it, and it showed me the difference a change in training can make. Last year my average ride was 30-50 miles and I was riding many more miles. I’ve got 3200 miles for the year but I’m down 900 from where I was last year at this time. I’m pretty sure the centuries I did last year didn’t hurt quite as bad.