A tale of two centuries
Saturday, September 05, 2009
One of my goals for this summer was to bike a century, a hundred miles. The most I had biked before was 66 miles. I had looked at the schedule of rides in the area and did not see any organized centuries that fit my own calendar, so I knew I had to do it on my own.
A week ago Friday, I put a bunch of energy bars in a back pack, along with rain gear and put some water in bottles, put the bike on the car and drove to the Lake Wobegon trail. And off I went. The first 50 was against the wind. I had to keep talking myself into keeping going, but it wasn't bad. I've done 50 many times before and figured the remaining 50 wouldn't be bad because the wind would be at my back.
So, when I reached 50. I turned around and off I went. I figured, I'd stop at mile 75 to rehydrate, and eat an energy bar. But the wind had shifted. It wasn't strong, but it was against me. I persevered and headed on. Mile 75 was on the trail, not a natural stop, but my legs were dead, and I knew I had to stop. Once I stopped, it hit me. I felt awful. I sat down on the edge of the path and just drank water, and more water. I think I had not paid close enough attention to keeping hydrated. It took about 15 minutes, but I stood up. No sag wagon because I was doing this on my own. So I headed out. I faithfully stopped every 30 minutes and drank water. It was soooo hard. But I did it in 6 hours 54 minutes. My first century.
So today, 7 days later, I set out to do it again. This time, I started out drinking water yesterday, and earlier this morning. It was a glorious day for a ride, so I didn't need a pack for rain gear. I just put the nutrition bars in my biking jersey, headed for the Wobegon Trail, and set out again. This time the wind was at my back, or was at least a cross wind, and was not strong in any case. I maintained 16 miles an hour for the first 30 miles. I stopped regularly and drank water and ate a bit of nutrition. I took a slightly different route, headed on to the Soo Line Trail which has a few more places to use a bath room and get water. I went as far as I could on that trail before I hit unpaved trail. So then I was off on the road to make sure I would get the 100 miles. Always being sure to either drink while I was riding, or make a brief stop along the way. As a result, during the first half of the ride, I was making regular pit stops at the bathrooms, that are fortunately on the trail.
Heading back, my legs were getting shaky again at about mile 70. There is a trail side café there, that I had always wanted to stop at. So I did. They gave me a glass of ice water, with a lemon, and were so nice about having this sweaty, hair messed up biker, sitting at their counter. I ordered a grilled cheese, and they made this wonderful grilled cheese, with rosemary and other herbs melted in. YUMMMM! They also gave me a log they keep and asked me to write down suggestions for the trail and their café. My only suggestion was more pavement.
So then I was off again. I just kept going. At about mile 80, my arm started to hurt so bad, but I just pressed on. At mile 92, another rider asked if I was just starting out or at the end of my ride. I decided to take that as a complement, last week they would have known I was at the end of my ride, if not my life! Those same people said they had wanted to go 100. (They also told me it was their 2nd ride of the season, and they started having leg cramps at mile 18. I asked if they had ever done 100, they had not. I told them how much I'd been biking and that "it's harder than I thought." )
At mile 96, for the first time another rider passed me. I wanted to yell out, I'm usually faster! But instead I kept pedaling. I did it! I cut 20 minutes off my time, improving from 14 something per hour to 15 something per hour.
I don't know if I could do 100 in an organized ride. I'd expect more hills, and this was hard enough with mostly flat rail beds. But I can do 100--in fact I've done it twice.