I finally did it! I finished my first bike century! This last Sunday I participated in Trailnet's Ride the Rivers Century along with 608 other crazy bike folks. The weather was beautiful even if a little cold at the start and windy all day.
I rolled out with a few of the guys from Team TOG, but was dropped in the first few miles. No worries as I thought I'd see them at a rest stop. They passed me once when they had to relieve the coffee I didn't drink but otherwise I was once again alone a lot. While I understood their desire to ride faster, I wished for company. I think finding someone to ride my speed will be key to ever choosing to do this again (if I do it again).
I felt pretty good as I rolled into the first rest stop at the history museum. I grabbed a little food and headed back out pretty quickly. I had to walk one hill when I got caught at a mid hill stoplight. I also stopped and caught my breath on one hill but pedaled up the rest of it.
I was getting warm from having over dressed. I enjoyed looking at the old buildings as we rolled through downtown St. Louis. I wished that I had had more time to stop for pics. Those prayers backfired and I caught nearly every red light. Fellow riders even started to joke about it. Once we got over on the river trail there were a few places where folks seemed to be flatting a lot. I walked over some gravel to avoid it. I knew that a flat tire might be the end of my ride - killing my spirit and taking time I knew would be in short supply now that it gets darker much earlier and quicker.
But soon I was at the rest stop at the Old Chain of Rocks bridge over the Mississippi River. Grabbed some more water and hit the portopotty. Knowing the next stop was lunch made it slightly easier to get going again. The view from the bridge was of downtown St. Louis in the distance, but having just gotten going, I didn't want to stop for a pic. Too bad as there were a lot of neat Route 66 signs and memorabilia.
|42 miles in - ready to cross the Mississippi River|
The wind was soon at my back, but the pedaling didn't feel that much better. In fact, I was getting pretty warm in the sun now that the wind wasn't in my face. Then there were these stupid road crossings that had gates that made you ride down a steep grade, dismount, walk across and then go straight up again (where I mostly hiked). There was also some construction I didn't feel comfortable riding around in the grass so I walked around.
The canopy at the amphitheater at Alton seemed visible for a long time that it didn't seem to be getting closer. I really wanted off my bike. I finally got there. I pulled off my jacket and helmet and laid in the grass. I wolfed down my turkey sandwich, chips and cookie. Then I tried to psych myself up to get going again. I set a deadline and only missed it by a few minutes checking my jacket and refilling my bottles.
I had hopes that the long stretch of relatively flat River Road would provide some relief and maybe a tailwind. While I did feel a bit better having eaten and cooled off, I was in a pretty dark mental place. I started daydreaming about chucking my bike into the river and calling the Sag. I caught a woman and sucked myself to her wheel. It was bad manners, but I just couldn't find the strength to pass her. I hung on until the Grafton rest stop.
My stomach didn't feel like eating, but I snacked a little and refilled my bottles again. It was nice to hit a real toilet at the visitor center. I was really hurting, but I had to go on. Saw a guy sitting on a wheel stop trying to get the nerve to get back on his bike. I felt the same, but chose to swing my leg over and headed out.
Shortly after I left, I hooked up with a guy from O'Fallon that was riding about my speed. Sharing those miles to the next stop (the first ferry) completely changed my mental outlook. I could more fully appreciate the beautiful day. I didn't even hate the hills as much. There weren't that many, but sharing the pain made them so much easier. I even started humming a tune that was stuck in my head.
We made it to the first ferry. We got a break from the bike seat as we watched some poor lady blow her transmission trying to offload. Then we rode across and fought the wind and hills to get to the Golden Eagle ferry. Another crossing and we were welcomed at the last rest stop by super sweet cheering volunteers. Still not really hungry, I did have half a sprite. We took a couple pics and headed out for the final miles.
|92 miles in - last rest stop|
It was mostly flat and only a little into the wind. I was wanting to push the pace a little but eased up whenever needed to stay with my bike angel. I just wanted to be done and the sun was starting to drop pretty low in the sky. Then there was my car and I was so thankful. We snapped a couple more shots and thanked each other for sticking it out.
|Just finished 102 miles! Yay!!|
David from Team TOG called and said they were cleaning up the finish party. I remembered that I needed to go get my jacket. I visited with David for just a bit and then loaded up and headed out. I stopped in Kingdom City for a late dinner and much deserved coke.
Muscles were pretty sore but my butt was very sore. Hard chairs were not my friend the early part of this week. I took it super easy on Monday, walked around a job site a little on Tuesday plus took a family walk as part of my daughter's Girl Scout Staying Fit badge, and took it easy again on Wednesday (busy with work).
Thursday dawned very cool again and I met Susan for a shake out run on the greenway. I wasn't really feeling it, but was kind of grumpy and stiff at the start. I felt so much better after our 4.1 miles and Starbucks together. Tonight I took a walk with my husband.
Now I have completed one of my big hairy ass goals for this year. I'll need to go back and do some adding up of some of my recent mileage, review my goals list and see what my goals for November and December are going to be. But for now, I am ecstatic with completing 100 miles in one day!