I rode my first two centuries of the year in the last few weeks. Both were fun, though they were very different.
On Friday July 28, I rode my first century of the year, Bike to the Beach, a fundraiser for autism. Among other things, the ride provides funding to Keen Sports, a program for disabled kids (not just autistic kids, but kids with ANY disability – none turned away) that Nolan participates in. The ride – from D.C. to Dewey Beach–was both great and, well, difficult. Not difficult in regard to the route—the 107-mile ride was very flat, and I didn’t go very fast – 6 hours 20 minutes for the 107 miles, or just under 17 mph average. It was difficult in that it leaves at 5 a.m., so I had to get up at 3:40.
And we’re off at 5 a.m.
Plus after the ride finished, I had to wait for a bus back to D.C., then wait in pouring rain for my bike to arrive by separate truck, and then drive home, getting in after 11 p.m. I was pretty tired. But felt great that I’d both completed a century and raised money for Keen $895 myself; over $5K for the Keen Team of which I was a part.). And we finished the ride before the rain hit.
Doing this ride was more gratifying than other centuries as I accomplished something for a worthy cause. You also get a different group of participants–some were accomplished cyclists no doubt, but there were many who had never or rarely done a century, or even any long ride (one of my teammates had never ridden more than 35 miles – she finished). There were people cheering us as we finished, and they never let up. I eventually joined them and cheered the stragglers. Some autistic kids joined the ride for the last several miles too.
The next Thursday a friend told me he was doing Mountain Mama in Monterey Virginia. So I decided to do that. Most difficult century I’ve done. 10,000 feet of climbing.
I rode a lot in the small ring, often matched to the largest cog (34X29), sometimes in the 34X27 or the 25, at speeds of as low as 7 mph. When I finished a climb, I had a fast and frankly often scary descent. The first descent was the worst due to hairpin turns and the fact I was still in a group of riders, some of whom were braver/riskier than me and descended faster through the hairpins passing me on both sides.
A bit of flat riding, but you can see the hills.
My top speed was 45 mph, and it would have been higher if I hadn’t kept my speed down by feathering the brakes and sitting up to catch air. The ride took 7 hours and 3 minutes (on bike time; 8:15 including stoppage time at the well-equipped and friendly rest stops), for an average speed of 14.2 mph, easily my slowest century ever. (Second slowest would be a 105-mile century I did on Skyline drive, time 7:05, average speed 15.1 mph.)
A welcome sign at top of the third to last climb.
It was an awesome ride, and I don’t know why I didn’t see lots of cyclists I know from DC there. I registered day of ride, and I was cyclist number 211, so it’s a small century in terms of riders.
Another great thing: nestled in the mountains, it is colder there. Temperature at ride start was only 55, and it was only 70 at ride end at 4:15 p.m.