To some cyclists, perhaps a century ride has become of little significance, and to those people I can understand not wanting to read some random individuals' report on her first century. I can also appreciate that there are those who are waiting for the blow by blow recounting of what took place. I am quite certain I will be unable to please either side of the aisle, so I have decided to just go with what feels right. If you are up for reading through it, please feel free to do so, but I am writing this post for no one other than myself... mostly as a future reminder to self that I (spoiler alert for those continuing) was able to accomplish something I never truly thought I would or could do...
It was a beautifully clear, blue morning. Not a single cloud in the sky. On any other day I would have been rejoicing to see such a gorgeous summer morning, but this was one day I was hoping for cloud cover. I was already starting out an hour and some change later than originally planned, and the heat was making itself known. Not quite the hottest of summer days, but still warmer than I'd prefer (especially being somewhat heat sensitive).
The night prior, I had told myself the morning would bring the start of my first century ride. I didn't tell a soul. It's easier not to feel so bad if I couldn't actually complete the goal if no one knew about the plan at all. I told Sam and a couple of others that I was planning a "long training ride" the following day, but I knew I was gunning for the "big" goal. Perhaps it was a bit early in the training process. After all, the longest ride I'd been on to that point was just over 60 miles. Was it asking too much to jump to 100 so quickly? I was simply ready to get it "over with" and wanted to make it happen. In truth, I needed it to happen because it was causing undo stress to have this seemingly huge goal looming over me. It's funny. When I say I'm going to do something, people seem to expect that I am going to complete it. It almost felt as though if I couldn't finish this I would be a complete failure in the eyes of all who were aware of the goal. In truth, I have no doubt everyone would be accepting of whatever reality came about, but I don't enjoy disappointing others (nor myself), so I began to feel manufactured stress from the situation. Finishing the 100-mile ride was no longer optional.
Early on, I passed by the kickboxing studio - just as class was about to start. I considered not riding at all and instead stopping for class. I longingly looked at the window of the building, mentally waved to everyone, but kept pedaling. There are plenty of days to do kickboxing... this day was about accomplishing another goal.
|Fairly flat for this portion (though that didn't last long)|
As I began to warm up, I felt a little better, but somewhere around mile 18, I began to second guess my decision to not stop at the kickboxing class. I was preparing to climb a small hill when all of a sudden my knee cap felt as though it might fall out (I realize this is highly unlikely - but it's the best way I can describe it). Unbelievable pain went shooting through my body. "Great," I actually spoke aloud. "Just what I need." I shifted to a super-spinning gear and made it up the brief climb. I was convinced I wouldn't make it to mile 25 at this point. The knee continued to ache for several miles, but I was going to keep going. I continued to repeat to myself on every climb, "Take it easy on the knee," meaning that I had to spin, whether I liked it or not.
Probably one of my worst decisions about this ride was that I had absolutely no idea where I was heading. I hadn't pre-mapped a route, so I figured I would just ride until I hit 100 miles. It seemed somewhat reasonable when I started, but as I continued, I realized how bad an idea this really was. I rarely know where I'm going when cycling alone, but I think on a ride of this length, it would've been a good idea to have an idea of some sort of direction. Ah, well... que sera sera.
Mentally dealing with the idea of the 100 miles seemed the biggest challenge. As I started out I was attempting to figure out how to break the ride down so I wouldn't be thinking the entire time, "I still have fill-in-the-blank miles left to go." I had decided I had two different break-downs: 10 mile increments and 25 mile increments. I also reminded myself that I could stop when I needed to and that there was no prize for finishing without stops. This would cause its own sort of battle toward the end of the ride, but it worked fairly well to keep me motivated.
Fatigue was definitely setting in at this point. I found myself needing to stop more and more frequently. They weren't long stops, but they were becoming closer together which concerned me. Thinking back on it now, I believe it was more of a head game than an actual, physical tiredness taking place. Yes, I was tired, but I knew I had more in me.
|Somehow, I kept climbing fairly low considering the terrain in this area - I ended at just under 2,000 ft climbed|