That's right, you read correctly. I'm no longer a virgin. That is, today I completed my first Century, and have become a de-virginized road cyclist.
Ordinarily, this would have been a moderately challenging Century. You encounter the Calaveras "Wall" at mile 20-ish. It's a stout hill, over 800+ feet of hill climbing in under a half mile. But it's short. It's early, and even though it's hard, it's practically over before you start the mental chatter about how much it sucks. We climbed over Altamont Pass. Again, not too bad. The last serious hill climb came at mile 88. Palomares road was a five mile hill climb. I do pretty okay on the hill climbs, so it wasn't too bad. It's a long freakin' hill regardless, but after 88 miles it took the wind out of a lot of sails.
Speaking of wind....it was the wind that made this ride HARD. At the top of Altamont Pass (about 1000 feet elevation) the winds kicked in. Headwinds. Headwinds from every direction. Head winds for about 45 miles. No matter which way we went, we were assaulted by headwinds. We'd make a 90 degree turn onto a new road, and whaddya know, more headwinds. There's nothing better than headwinds when you're climbing a hill. Except headwinds shoving up against you on the flats. Post ride, in the cafeteria when everyone is chowin', that's what the talk was of, these headwinds.
The winds took a lot out of me, they made me tired pushing against them mile after mile. We did some pacelining, but even then, the winds would kick my ass from the sides. By the time we rolled into lunch at mile 67, I was tired. And almost cramping up.
Speaking of cramping, Gatorade is shit. For real. I forgot my usual Cytomax, an electrolyte replacement drink. I drank Gatorade at the SAG stops. I have a feeling that's what contributed to my fatigue and muscle tightness. Gatorade is useless! At mile 88's SAG stop, Kevin gave me an electrolyte tablet to suck on. That and two packets of Hammer Gel and I got a burst of energy. That energy came in use on the Palomares climb, for sure! The descent down the back side was fun! Very wind-y (as opposed to windy!!) and I enjoyed flying down and taking corners with some speed; I'm finally developing some confidence on the descents!
Bummer Stuff: My chain dropped at mile 90, and I couldn't clip out and crashed on asphalt. On the same knee that I crashed on last weekend when my chain dropped. Time to get the derailleur re-checked. It got bent on the Cinderella ride when my bike got knocked over. And on the backside of Palomares hill, my foot cramped. I had to get off the bike, take my shoe off, and hop up and down to get the cramping to relax. It worked, though.
I wound up riding with Kevin and William, two of my TNT mentors. They were super supportive. When I was cramping, Kevin told me to slow down, take it easy, and that he'd ride at whatever pace I needed. I'm grateful for their encouragement and tips throughout the ride. They were surprised that I was doing a Century before the TNT Tahoe Century, but I think they're learning I'm a little OCD that way.
The ride was fantastically supported, SAG everywhere, and tons of food! Cyclists eat...a LOT! You kinda wonder how so many are still so thin.
So I did it! 104.5 miles today. At the end, when William and Kevin were going to coast in easy, I had my Hammer Gel sugar spike and took off on the last five miles, just wanting to get off the bike! They looked at each other, one asked what the hell I was doing, and I did the last five miles of pulling into the headwinds with them in tow. I was glad to have done some of the pulling, since I spent a lot of time drafting off William.
I'm in bed on my laptop typing this, haven't even stretched yet or showered. Just worn out and chillin' with Milo (that's a whole nother Boo-sad story for later). Voila! You've just read the account of my first Century.
Confidential to the person who PROMISED to make me cookies after I not only completed the ride, but also posted about it: I've done my part, so I'll be expecting those cookies later this week. How about Oatmeal Chocolate Chip? You know I need to restore those carbs SOON, so don't delay!