Wednesday, August 19, 2009

100 Miles and 100 Degrees......

This picture is of the computer on my bicycle. In case you have a hard time reading it, it says 102.47 miles. In one day. On a bicycle.

In the bicycling world, that's called a century ride. Not sure why. Don't get me wrong ..... I'm not so dense that I don't get the whole 100 reference. But century refers to time. And 100 miles is distance. Never the twain shall meet. Unless it takes a century to ride a century, which I was always pretty sure it would.

I never considered myself in good enough shape to ride a century, and I silently envied and admired and hated those who did it every year. Many years on BRAG the century riders got a special pin. One year when I was working the merchandise truck, I stole one. Because I thought it was the only way I would ever get a century pin. [Sorry, BRAG, I guess I owe you $5.00.] I'm not sure why I stole it ..... it's not like I would ever wear a century pin if I hadn't actually ridden the century.

In 2003, however, I decided I would try it. We had started having layover days on BRAG on the same day as the century, so I didn't have to worry about getting into camp and setting up a tent.
I talked to a guy named Bob at the merchandise truck who was planning for a group to ride it together, and I figured with a support group I might be able to do it. We agreed to meet the next morning at 6:30.

I was torn. If I were going to ride alone, I would leave earlier than that, especially to ride 100 miles. But I might ride better and faster if I had the support of a group of other riders. I decided to meet them and hope we could make up the 30 minutes I considered lost at the beginning of the day.

I showed up at the appointed time and place the next morning, and so did Bob. And no one else. We were the group. Bob. And me. Wait, it gets worse.

Bob said, "I think we can do this in five hours."

Oh hell. Excuse me? Five hours? A 20-mile-per-hour average? Me? Including rest stops? My average was more like 12 mph on the bike; 10 mph if you factored in rest stops. I would be doing a good job to finish the ride on the same calendar day. Five hours my foot.

I told Bob he was way out of my league and that he could just go ahead. I wouldn't be out there alone, even on the century route, and I didn't want to have to kill myself trying to keep up. But he would have none of that. He insisted we ride together, and I was stuck.

We skipped the first rest stop, which was my pattern back then anyway. Rest stops were approximately 10-12 miles apart, and stopping at every one meant at least a 30-minute delay. If I could ride 20 miles without stopping, which is what I do at home anyway, I could save some of the time I would otherwise spend standing in line, eating and drinking, and socializing. Mostly socializing.

Then Bob wanted to stop at the home of one of his high school friends. The guy wasn't home, but his wife was. Talk about awkward. It was bad enough being in cycling clothes and being all sweaty, but I didn't even KNOW this person. I didn't even know BOB!!!!

I won't give you the play-by-play for all 100 miles, but I can tell you that we made it. In slightly over 5 hours. Like 9 hours. There were a couple of times that Bob rode beside me and put his hand on the small of my back to help me along. I was sort of humiliated. To make up for it, however, I did save his life. He was cruising through a stop sign that he only THOUGHT was a 4-way stop when I screamed, "CAR RIGHT!!!!!"

It started raining a couple of miles from the finish, and that was absolutely okay with me. I knew by then that I could make it. Bob was a kick-ass rider and a regular on BRAG. I've never seen him again. I'm guessing I traumatized him with my slowness.

The next year I rode the century again, this time just to see if I could do it without the help of a "coach." I don't remember anything really significant about that particular century ride, except for the fact that I lived to tell about it.

The picture above was taken after I did the century ride in 2005, and that one is indelibly imprinted in my mind. I had no intention of riding the century. I had done two of them, and I didn't feel like I had anything left to prove.

Except I couldn't convince my friend Rozmo of that. She had done a century before too, but she was intent on doing this one. And she's pretty insistent. Downright contrary. Mean if she has to be. [Not really, she doesn't have a mean bone in her body. And she reads this blog occasionally, so if she DID have a mean bone in her body, I would never allude to it here.]

That may have been the longest day of my life. We started out strong, but the heat became brutal. It was 100 degrees before we got finished. Literally. And some sagacious person scheduled the lunch stop for the century riders at approximately the 80-mile mark. Which turned out to be completely irrelevant, since they were all out of food by the time we got there. [It was the lunch stop for the shorter rides too, and they had breezed through HOURS earlier.] By the end of the ride, we were stopping at any establishment that looked like it had air conditioning. If I had seen a house for sale that included a pool, I would have bought it and moved in on the spot. When we finally made it back to camp and limped toward HQ for our coveted bandanas (they had stopped giving out pins and switched to bandanas, which are way more useful), we had to "excuse me, excuse me" through the DINNER line to get to the desk. After pretending not to have any more bandanas (not funny at all, by the way), the HQ folks sent us to the American Red Cross van. I'm not sure why, except we basically looked like hell. The Red Cross folks said thanks for dropping by, but we're closing up shop now. Good thing we didn't need a blood transfusion or something.

Rozmo thought it only appropriate that we take each other's pictures in front of the words "Disaster Services." Besides, that was as far as I could walk by then. Note, however, that I did manage to smile for the picture with my precious bandana. Or perhaps that's a grimace.

Now Rozmo wants Katydid and me to do a DOUBLE CENTURY over a weekend. That's a 100-mile bicycle ride, spend the night, turn around and ride 100 miles back.

I think I'm going to change my phone number. And my email. And my social security number. Rozmo can be downright insistent.


KatyDid53 said...

But it's flat!

frogger_blogger said...


I bow down and worship at your feet.