Beyond all expectations: One Hundred Miles

August 16, 2008

6:09:53, 100.3mi
66ºF, Odo 1897mi
avg 16.2mph, max 48.7mph
*Rain, dark


My workout at the karate studio was painful: jumping squats, pushups situps followed by an awesome two-man technique (multiple attackers) and sparring.  Ouch.

The sun was out, there were no clouds.  This is a perfect day for a big ride!  I made a huge amount of pasta and promptly took a nap.  When I got out of bed later I felt more like a cyclists and less like a punching bag.  Unfortunately, there were a few clouds out.  Oh well.

I absolutely filled my camelbak (2 litres) with Gu2.0.  I didn’t have a second water bottle to bring but I figured I could manage.  I packed 3 cliff bars and 6 energy gel packs.  One said “up to two an hour as needed” so I used that as a guideline.  I brought Hammer gel, Gu, and Powershot.  I liked the Hammer gel the best.

Beautiful Start, Rain, and Getting Lost

The sky was beautiful, the sun was warm, everything was perfect.  Then, 30 minutes into the ride, the sky opened up.  Hail quickly turned to rain.  I was riding down a steep hill, very fast, and the rain felt like needles.  The rain became an inconsistent light spattering, and stayed that way for the first two hours or so.  At the 25 mile mark I took a break and mentally prepared myself for the Big Hill.

The Big Hill was a Big Softy.  I came out on top and I wasn’t even phased by it.  I just kept going.  Awesome!

Back to Start

You took a wrong turn.  Go directly to [home].  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200. Woops.  I took a right instead of a left and ended up back home.  When I realized it I cursed but didn’t want to turn around and get more lost.  Still, indoor plumbing and a well stocked kitchen are excellent benefits to accidentally arriving at the start.  I arrived at the 50 mile mark, it was like an allignment of the planets, however, because I was able to feed the cat and lookup directions for how to get home.  I could take the boring 20 mile route home, but that’s boring! It felt so beneath me, I knew I could accomplish much more than that flat, boring, commute ride.  Did I mention boring?  I was 50 miles in and determined to ride 75 with hills.  I posted that great elevation with three huge bumps, didn’t I?  Well that was it, I planned a 45 mile ride (without doing the math in my head) with the same hills I originally posted.

I ate two wondoursly perfect peaches, drank real water, and had some energy gel before I left.  I also added some water and ice to my camelbak, but not much.

The Easiest 25 Miles

I’d like to say the next 25 miles were difficult.  They were not.  I was not even phased by this part of the ride, though this was the part that I expected to be the most difficult, since I haven’t really ridden more than 50 miles.

The sky was clearing up and the clouds were amazing.  There was a sign that said “Enjoy the View” and just after passing it, the road dipped down giving a wide view of the world around us.  Directly ahead of me was a thick rainbow.  Beautiful!

One of these hills was steep enough to get me up to 43mph without much effort.  I saw the opportunity to break my top speed record and took it.  Pedaling frantically, I focused to relax my legs and spin fast, instead of tensing to push hard; I finally did it: 48mph!  New max speed!

Getting Dark

I skipped the 75 mile break because I didn’t feel like I needed it, because it was getting dark, and I had no way to be sure where I was.  Am I lost?  20 miles ago there was a sign, but I’m still heading into the sun following a river.  What if I’m riding off into the west?  Where will I sleep?  I don’t have enough clothing with me to keep me warm through the night.  For some reason I just kept going, and when I reached New Boston I cheered.  There was even a sign to tell me where to go!  With renewed cheerfullness, I continued forth.

Mount Vernon was bigger than New Boston, and the traffic there waited for me.  Thanks!

It got dark.  Fast.  I’ve never been here before, and all I have is this flashing light on my handlebars.  I was a little nervous, but then I saw a sign flickering in my intermittant light.  Yes! Yes it says rt130!  Another cheer.  At 85 miles I stopped at a store and went inside.  There was absolutely nothing of value (to me) to be bought there. We don’t sell “convenience” in this store.  Still, it was the perfect opportunity to put a shirt on, sip some almost-water, and down a Gu gel.  Relieved to be nearly home, I crossed the busy intersection on foot, then rode on.

The sun has set, the only light I have is street lamps and cars.  I’m somewhat unfarmilliar with the road but I know the turnoff I’m looking for.  It’s distinctive: a right hand turn into a downhill and the turn off is left.  The benefit: ok I know where I am.  The downside: no more streetlights.

It’s Really Dark Now

Riding in the dark is probably the most frightening thing I’ve done this year.  I was worried about traffic not seeing me, I was worried about coyotes, and I could not see.  Turns came up unexpectedly, at speed.  I prayed for my life just to get me home safe.  Not being able to see the road clearly was the most frightening part, but every time I couldn’t tell which way to go, at the last moment I could.  Did I mention the road was wet?  No sharp turns on wet surfaces!  Every turn was recognized immediately before the turn happened.  That kept me alert in ways I cannot even express.  I climbed a hill under the majestic moonlight.

Learning to adjust my gears in the dark felt like a tremendous benefit to me.  I couldn’t look down to see what gear I was in, I had to learn to adjust by feel.  It was an ego-less sensitivity: I had to put my ego down and just feel.  No more “don’t use the lowest sprocket” garbage.  I feel more connected to the bike, now.  Hopefully I can use this skill during the day, too.

One downhill to a turn frightened the death out of me because even as I got close I couldn’t tell which way to go.  All I could see was that there was something in the way, like riding toward a wall, head on.  At the last moment I saw that I was actually back at the main road, and quickly veered to the right.  I felt amazing: I’m almost home!

I’ve Been Around the Block a Few Times

This road had streetlamps, and I managed to catch a glimpse of my cyclometer.  Doubletake!  Does that say 98 miles?!  No, it didn’t.  I got home at 92 miles  but never slowed down.  I circled the block, I rode to the bank twice, I rode to the bike shop, I circled the block more.  98.7, 99.5, 99.9!

And finally I did it.  One hundred miles.

I’m so happy.  This feels like such a breakthrough!  Today my legs feel like junk, my shoulders feel like junk (from holding my head up), but I still feel amazing.  What a ride!

2 Responses to “Beyond all expectations: One Hundred Miles”

  1. Anne said

    Yowza! Congrats on surviving your big adventure and getting home in one piece.

  2. Mom said

    Congratulations, sweetie! I’m proud of you!


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