Before I delve into the amazing energy of experiencing my first [organized] century, I would like to talk to you a moment about how much I hate physical exercise.
During our most tender years, we are brought up with forced manual labor in the guise of physical education.
During junior high my class would alternate between a 2 mile run and a 20 minute run every week. It was really apples and oranges to me since the 2 mile took approximately the same amount of time. I recall standing on the sideline coughing up blood and having the PE couch tell me that I wasn’t trying hard enough.
That was about the time my mother pulled me out of traditional classes and I home schooled PE. So, for my entire overweight childhood the idea of anything that reeked of exercise totally makes me feel like I am getting punished.
That’s what I love about bicycling. I can ride my bike all — day and I don’t feel like I am doing any actual exercise. I never pushed it hard for nine hours straight apparently.
Yesterday I exercised.
And it hurt good.
So, we will start Thursday. Went on the pre-ride on Wednesday.
I ate a ton of food Thursday night.
Friday I went and bought new shoes. (2011 Specialized Riata MTB)
Because you know, nothing’s smartah than wearing new shoes when you’re planning on riding a long bike ride THE NEXT — DAY. Actually the two pairs of clipless that I own are both touring shoes are so pretty soft soled. When I was riding on Wednesday my feet hurt pretty bad, so I figured it couldn’t be worse, right? Right!?
I also bought a new helmet. I have two helmets already. One is a more skateboard-style which I use more in the winter for cross. Absolutely no ventilation. Toasty warm. The other was a freebie. Heavy. Not much draft. . . I got a Giro Savant. . .
I went on this century ride with 11 other awesome people.
I got to the starting point just before 7:30am. I didn’t trust myself to actually get there on time and be able to make breakfast, get my gear and everything together in the morning, so I ended up sleeping over at a friend’s house and had them drive me to the start-up. They also made me breakfast so I could sleep until the very last second. Well. . . I still ended up waking up at 6:15 or so. Had to eat some oatmeal and braid my hair. Give myself time to digest. Drink some juice. Slather myself with embrocation cream. It’s freaking cold in the Pacific Northwest in September in the morning!
I get there and everyone is lingering around getting ready themselves grazing on the spread of fruits and snacks. All those last minute bits. We sign all our insurance forms. We get all our emergency phone numbers and everything set up. All that good stuff.
Then we go outside.
Did I mention it’s freaking cold?
Other than the blithingly frigid chill, we were all in grand spirits to get the ride started. It ended up being a gorgeous day and the weather warmed up forthwith! We started the morning by leaving Portland and heading for a loop around Sauvie Island. Then hit up Vancouver, WA by way of I-5.
We stopped for lunch at Frenchman’s Bar in Vancouver, WA. I am disappointed to report that there were neither French men nor bars there. . .
So, we left the lunch site and I was pretty much ready to go to bed. But oh yeah, we had like, you know – 50 more miles to ride.
So there was that.
Left Vancouver via 205 bridge. Headed up Marine Drive to Gresham, OR. Got on the Spring Water Corridor. Road all of it. Which was fantastic. There is a portion that hasn’t actually been completed yet, so we got to have a little “cyclocross” portion of our century and dismount, climb over some water pipes and rubble, etc.
I got a little turned around in Sellwood when the trail ended abruptly but a guy on the bike gave me directions through town and I got back on the trail. I figured it out on the cue sheet, but it was just easier for me to ask directions than it was to sort through the four pages I had on my handlebar bag to see what page I was actually on. Up until then I had been so close to the front group at various points that I hadn’t needed to look at it at all.
So back on the Spring Water, I knew where I was. You take that back into town. At this point, I even vaguely knew how many miles I had left. At one point I passed a team mate fixing a flat. (Just so you know, I asked every time I saw someone stopped if they needed assistance. That’s just common decency.)
By the Spring Water my feet hurt. My right hip hurt, which has never happened before, but I think I was favoring it because my left knee was aching and I was compensating. My feet were killing me and I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Old people on cruiser bikes with baskets and mirrors were passing me I was going so slow.
I wanted to shout out: “I’ve been pedaling for 8+ hours! I’ve gone 90 miles! I’m usually not this —- slow!“
It would have been ridiculous to bail out five miles to the end point. I also have a rule when it comes to races and events. I will not be last and I will not DNF. (‘Did Not Finish’) Even though this wasn’t a race, but a good-natured charity ride, there’s still a competitive streak in me. I knew which riders were ahead of me. I knew who was behind me.
So, when I arrived back to the end point a few minutes at 5pm alone, but mid-pack, I felt pretty good.
As I type this, we’ve raised $26,344!