A Recap Of My First Century Ride
After 6 – 8 weeks of preparing for The Pumpkin Pie Century Ride the day finally arrived. I woke up yesterday morning at 4:30 am (thanks to my 6 month old) 15 minutes before my alarm. First thing first I had to eat something and get it into my system.
I chose something a little different today, not the best thing to do the day of a long ride but I figured it would be worth it and very much in theme with the ride itself. I picked up 5 cans of Libby’s pumpkin last night for some overnight oats fun. Specifically I mixed and refrigerated:
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1 cup kefir
- 1/2 cup pumpkin
In the morning I added granola and agave to taste. For some reason I thought the pumpkin was going to make it sweeter but not so much, I had to add agave to sweeten it up some. Next time I’m going to try some cinnamon and brown sugar instead of agave … I’m also going to do less kefir this time as well, it was a bit too soupy with the pumpkin in there.
Anyhow, after eating I threw on my gear including my new body glide to my feet to prevent hot spots and enzos chamois cream to help my bottom. Both of these were first time uses for me and ended up helping quite a bit as I never really had problems with either body part during the entire ride.
After getting fueled and double checking my packing I rode my bike over to a club members house to carpool to the ride. It was pretty dark in route and I wasn’t really able to read the street signs very well, it being dark and all … add to that our town having poor to no street lights and you get a scary early morning ride.
As a result of these nice conditions I kinda cruised past her house, slammed on the brakes to say hi (I saw her in the driveway), and promptly fell on my ass. I had clipped out my right foot but the extra weight of the bag I was carrying caused me to lean left and down I went. Yep, I started the morning with a nice crash and semi sore wrist. A great start for 6+ hours in the saddle.
After a short little hour long drive and a sign-in we were on the trail for the century ride. This was a ride, not a race, so there was no “starting line” or anything like that. It was more of a leave at whatever time and pace you want, just be off the road by 3:30 pm.
Rewind to Saturday night and I was still trying to figure out what I was gonna wear for the race. I had my bibs and cycling shirt along with some new sleeves to keep my arms warm. What I didn’t have was any wet weather gear nor any real cold gear. Since the morning was looking to be pretty cold I certainly needed something.
Digging through our jackets at home I found a nice rain coat like jacket that my wife took to Alaska a few years ago. It fit me pretty darn well and actually had nice sleeve vents if I got hot. I decided to give it a shot in hopes that it’d aid in not only the cold but any possible wet weather conditions we might encounter.
This is a picture of me decked out at the end of the century. As you can see I’m still wearing the jacket, it was one of those days.
Fast forward to Sunday morning the temperature was middle to high 30′s and pretty windy starting the race. By the afternoon it had warmed up but the wind was relentless out of the north all day. I ended up wearing the jacket, shirt, sleeves, and a simple cotton t-shirt under that most of the day. At about 60 miles I removed the sleeves but the rest remained.
As I said before, the wind was quite a factor most of the day. If you check out this map of the route you can see how much of the race was effected by wind.
Given how flat the area was, every path north (head wind), west (side wind), or east (side wind again) had wind to fight. All routes south and at an angle had some sort of tail wind which was nice but needless to say there weren’t many tail wind opportunities.
One of the things that helped with the wind during this ride was doing it with some other people. All throughout the ride we (the 1-2 other people I was riding with) practiced a paceline. In case your not familiar with it, a pace line is typically an ordered arrangement of cyclist using each other to reduce wind drag and conserve energy. If you’ve ever watched The Tour de France you’ve likely seen a wedge (echelon) or line of cyclist snaking it’s way down the road. They do that because the rider in the front is taking a beating from the wind and those behind are reducing their energy expenditure by upwards of 20% which adds up over a long event.
We followed this paceline drafting approach for about 70% of the ride and man did it make a difference. I often found myself able to coast or not push as hard when I wasn’t in the front whereas when I was on the front I was really working hard to cut through the wind. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been had I done the whole windy ride solo without any drafting.
If you ever get the opportunity to do a paceline on a long ride I highly suggest it. Once you get the handle on the logistics on how long to pull (2 – 3 minutes), keeping a steady pace, holding a line (no swerving folks), and how to rotate off (hand signals) it flows pretty well.
Overall I felt great for most of the race, especially the first 80~ miles. I was paying particular attention to how I felt around mile 56 since that’s the Ironman 70.3 distance. I felt great at that point and honestly could have run for a while had I not had another 48 miles to ride. I think this bodes well for my goals next season.
As you can see from the bike computer information above (posting on that in the future) we finished 104 miles in just under 7 hours with an average pace of 15.3 mph and I burned just over 9000 calories. They’re is also some cool graphs of the elevation, speed, and temperature as well as a look at our 5 mile lap speeds. All fun geeky information to reference in the future for planning my training.
A few interesting things to note about the ride & experience itself.
- The food and overall support for the ride was great. Every 20 – 25 miles we circled back to the rest area for a refueling with some great eats all covered by the entry fee. I’d definitely recommend this ride for others looking for a century to try out.
- At about the 65 mile mark we had a nice run-in with a farm dog. He seemed to have a hankering for bikers so we had to punch it to get away. Needless to say we did but not without some seriously fast riding and our hearts beating out of our chest.
- The Enzos Chamois Cream worked out great. Other than standard soreness from sitting for 104 miles I don’t have any saddle sores to speak of. I’ll definitely be adding it to my regular long ride arsenal.
- I used Clif Shots, Bloks, and Roks to fuel while riding. It was my first hardcore ride using their products to keep me going and I can honestly say I had no energy issues the whole day. I’d recommend checking these out for your future ride or race fueling needs.
All in all it was a very fun ride and I’ll definitely do it again some day. Next stop Mackinac!