Monday, September 23, 2013

Sam's First Century

I mentioned in a recent post that my second century is now under my belt, but what I didn't share is that the reason for the second so quickly after the first was that Sam was really wanting to attempt his own first 100-mile ride. Rather than spending another post detailing out my thoughts on doing it a second time, I thought it might be more fun to see it through the eyes of another person's first round. I was also supposed to be going after my third this upcoming weekend with Venus de Miles, however, mother nature had other plans. Since much of our area is recovering (and will be for some time) from the damage to roads and bridges, all organized rides have been canceled for at least 30 days... which means, I won't get to do my first organized century this year. Although I am bummed that I won't get to compare the differences right now, I have no doubt there will be opportunities in the future.

I asked Sam if he'd be willing to write something up to share with others because he comes from a different place as far as cycling and other athletic events are concerned. He is really the antithesis of what I am in many respects (especially in regard to athleticism), and I think it's nice to see another perspective. So without further delay, here it is, in Sam's words (with a few interjections by me - because I can't help myself)...

My first century.

Wow, I thought, what a great idea?  Let's do Sam's first century on G.E.'s birthday, since she's already a century vet!

Some background:
I bike quite a bit - fast, far, climbing, mountain, road, casual, etc.  To that point my longest road ride had been 67 miles a couple of months ago, and it wasn't bad.

For the past couple of years, I would lament at the end of summer how I wanted to do my first century, but winter always crept up, there was not time, and many, many other lame excuses.

Enter this year:
G.E. had already randomly done her first century, nonchalantly, on a hot Friday.  A few weeks later, I was clamoring to do it myself, and we conveniently had a long weekend for her birthday, and our anniversary.  We had not planned anything big to celebrate, and it was a bit late to do so.  My thought was, why not ride a century for that "big thing."  Two birds with one stone, right?

She planned and had a route in mind, so it was set.

Ride day:
Riding is the best!
It was a Sunday, a bit cloudy, and not too hot.  We had feared it would rain.  I was sore from some other ride, workout, run... or something, as usual. {G.E.'s note: Since most do not know Sam personally, I should share here that he is a "crazy" person who completes many ridiculous athletic endeavors on a daily basis, including running half marathons "for fun" during the week at 4a before work (and he does this pretty much every week), or taking on long mountain bike rides on a whim (even if he hasn't been on a mountain bike in weeks or months). This past weekend he climbed a 14,000 foot mountain on his bike because someone gave him the grand idea that he should try it. In short, some of us have nicknamed him "Superman," and in quick summary, I suppose I assumed that riding 100 miles would be a relatively easy task for him to undertake by comparison, and he'd be dragging me along with him to the finish.}

We rolled out pretty early, just to make sure we would have time to finish if it took longer than anticipated.

G.E. was injured and I was sore, but I think we started with a good attitude.

I noticed when we planned and actually rode at an easier pace, I was aware of so much more about our surroundings, and in that sense it has changed my attitude since.  Houses, farms, animals, and landmarks were suddenly noticeable on a familiar route, when I wasn't trying to average 20+ mph.
These donkey's (and horse) were so freakin' adorable!
So, things were looking good, we were cruising, I was riding with the old pro {G.E.'s note: If I'm not mistaken, Sam is calling me "old" now. [sigh]}, and the world had suddenly become more focused.

Miles 25-40 pass.  We get closer to 50, and it's starting to grind on me.  Is it because most of my "long" rides, are around 50-60 miles?  I'm not sure, but right about then I think my body had decided to be done. Thankfully, we had a small break for lunch somewhere near 60 miles {G.E.'s note: It was mile 57, to be precise :O)}.  It was needed, and I had thought it would make all the difference.

I was so wrong!  We rolled back out after lunch, and it was okay, but around 70-75 miles, my brain hit an absolute wall, which made my body hurt and nearly give up {G.E.'s note: I had warned Sam that this time would come, but I think he doubted it - likely based on all the feats he undertakes and succeeds at on a regular basis}.  I would say in the 75-85 mile range, G.E. was in tears (she would show later that this is just her time for that) {G.E.'s note: I wasn't just in tears, I was literally sobbing like a ridiculous fool for 10-15 miles, whining that no one should have to be tortured on her birthday like this}, and I had mentally shut down - my legs were merely moving. There was a mental wall I had hit, and hit hard. Superman had not only been exposed to Kryptonite, but it had been rammed down his throat.

At 85ish miles, G.E. wakes up. She's no longer crying, and it's suddenly "easy" again {G.E.'s note: I had about 10-15 miles of feeling sorry for myself and then suddenly realized that Sam was counting on me to get him through. I knew I had to toughen up and help him see it to the end... which somehow snapped me out of my stupor}.  Me, I'm face-planted against the wall, and still moving a carbon bicycle through space with a set of legs holding up a tiny, tiny man.  At this point, I'm getting the encouragement from my better half.  "We are almost there," and "Only 'X' more miles," and so on she'd yell back to me.
This is about the point when mental fatigue was setting in
I'm hard, no question. I can do anything faster, better, longer than someone else can.  You suck, I'm better than you, and it's impossible for you to fight this. With the exception of a 100 mile ride (I'm going to have to find a way to fix this). {G.E.'s note: I think this was a good lesson for Sam... there is always someone better than oneself, or a task that seems insurmountable, even if one has Superman-like qualities.} Five miles seems like twenty, ten seem like fifty. Now we are at 90 miles, only 10 more and we are home.
Ten more miles is easy!  Man, it's not easy, and I really don't care anymore.  Superstar is dragging me along what seems to be the hardest 10 miles of my life, with zig-zagging through our neighborhood to finish, and complete the 100. {G.E.'s note: I seemed to be off just a bit in my planning, so we had about a half mile at the end to make up, which probably felt like more at the time... sorry, Sam.}

Just as my last paragraph was anti-climactic, so was the finish of the 100 miles.  No party, no finish line. {G.E.'s note: Hey, we had cake afterward, so that's sort of a party.} My deepest thought at that point was that I have no reason or desire to do this again. Why would I?
However, as predicted, after I was removed from it for only 2 days and felt better, I started thinking. I could do it again, and maybe better this time : ).

Will I do it again?  Probably.  Would I go more than 100 miles in one shot?  Doubtful.

Do I feel accomplished?  Yes, absolutely, 100%. {G.E.'s note: And, you should! It was tough and you had to listen to me have a tantrum for like an hour.}

What does the future hold?  Maybe an organized century, or something like that.  Support, rest stops.

I don't think my first one could have been better though.  Spending it with my significant other, on her birthday, and our anniversary weekend.  Not many people do things like this, or anywhere close to the things we do. {G.E.'s note: I don't know about all of that, but it was fun... if your idea of fun is torturing yourself and completing something outside socially acceptable celebratory day behavior. :O)}

100 miles, please...  The real question is, how fast can I do 100 miles?  Can I do it on a single speed?  Off road?

It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and in less than 8 hours.

A thank you to Sam for taking the time to share his thoughts on riding his first century. 

When we were training to run a marathon several years ago, I recall other runners telling me that I would be addicted to running marathons after my first. I had no such feelings at the end, or even days and weeks after. I can, however, liken that sentiment to riding my first (and second) century because after the event is over, I can't help but think... "Yeah, totally. I can do it again." It's amusing how those thoughts of "Why am I doing this?" turn into "I want to do it again, only better!" after just a few hours or days. Perhaps it's just proof that while I am definitely not a runner, maybe there's hope of turning me into a cyclist yet. :O)

Sam did amazing on his first attempt and held it together a lot better than I did. I'm glad he was able to get this completed after so many years of wanting to see what it was all about! Congratulations!!

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