Saturday saw me attempt my first century ride. While I wasn’t able to complete the full 101 mile route I did manage a decent 80 miles. Having had a day to think back on the event, I wanted to tell you about the ride.

My wife and I showed up at the starting point around 6 AM and it was already starting to get hot. I got ready to ride while my wife went to check-in at the volunteers table. She worked the first aid station at the start/finish line from 7 AM until 4 PM.

The ride started promptly at 7 AM for those riding the 101 and 71 mile routes. I’m guessing there were a couple hundred riders doing the two routes. I was a little worried about the mass start but it ended up being fine with nobody doing stupid stuff that would cause problems. The route was marked pretty good with signage along the road and we had police support at all the major intersections along the entire route which was great.

The first rest stop was only about 10 miles into the ride so I decided to bypass it. It turns out they had rest stops about every 15 miles which was awesome. I would really rely on those later in the day. I can’t say enough about the volunteers at the rest stops. They were all very helpful and accommodating. Each of the stops was well stocked with food and liquids.

I rode the first 50 miles at about a 16 mph pace into a head wind coming out of the South. I was really looking forward to being able to hit the halfway point and head back with a tail wind. That wouldn’t work out in my favor but more on that later. Those first 50 miles I got passed a lot. I was OK with it because I was riding my pace even though I was solo. A few groups invited me to join them but there was no way I could maintain their pace for the entire route.

After the 71 and 101 mile routes split it got a little tougher. I was basically solo at this point and didn’t see another rider for a long time. The heat was really starting to build and with the sun getting higher the shade we had from the roadside trees was disappearing. Eventually the trees would dissapear as we moved into flat farmland. That allowed the wind to really do its damage. This is when I rolled into a rest area just over halfway complete at about 52 miles. This is where the ride started to unravel on me.

Mentally I was ready to start the turn back to the North, get the tailwind, and get to the finish. I left that rest stop and was shocked to see the route turn South again. It turned onto a pretty busy four-lane road directly into the wind. My speed dropped from 16 mph to barely being able to maintain 14. I struggled like this to the next rest stop at 65 miles.

At this rest stop I was really starting to feel it physically and rested for a little while, at some, and drank water. I even followed the lead of a few other riders and used some ice filled ziploc bags to try and cool down. Eventually I had to depart and started my way towards the next rest stop which was at mile 80.

At this point the ride was turning back to the North so I was really expecting the tailwind. You can imagine my surprise when I get on, start pedaling, and notice the wind in my face. You guessed it. The wind had shifted from out of the South to out of the North-Northwest. Another headwind. More farmland and rising temps made the next 15 miles very difficult. While the world didn’t end on Saturday there was a point along this part of the route that I wished it would have.

When I did arrive at the 80 mile rest stop there was a SAG vehicle already there so my decision to abandon was quickly made. In restrospect, I wonder if I made that decision too quickly. I probably should have taken a rest, hydrated, and ate some before making that decision.

All that said, I think I did turn out a decent 80 mile ride. It took me 5h:13m at a 15.2 mph pace to do it. Considering how slow I was going over the last 20 miles I was really surprised to see my pace that high. Am I upset that I didn’t do the full 100? Sure. A little at least. That won’t be my last attempt though and I know I’ll get it done this year. Just not this time.

While I certainly don’t want these to be taken as excuses, I do want to point out a couple of things that I think contributed to me not being able to finish. They are:

  • Riding solo. I rode all 80 of those miles by myself which was probably a mistake. I mentioned that I was invited to join a couple of groups along the route but there was no way I could stay with them. When I do this again I’m going to join one of the teams instead of doing it solo. That way I’ll be able to train with a team and ride as a team.
  • My weight. You wouldn’t think I would need to remind myself of this but I am 100 pounds overweight. If I wasn’t pulling those extra 100 pounds around I might have stood a better chance at completing the full century under the conditions on Saturday.

That’s my report. I am dissapointed in not completing the full 100 but know that I turned in a good ride otherwise. What’s more important is that I helped raise $450 for a get charity and that’s what matters. I’ll continue riding to get the weight down and will get the century done at some point. Thanks to all of you for your help and support. Especially to Darryl and Kelli who helped me with my training and diet.