This weekend was awesome!  I finally did my first century ride!  This was my last long workout before my taper.  There was no more 20 mile run in the cards, due to my toe (feeling better, but still hurts).

On Sunday morning, I woke up early, packed up the car, and headed out for my ride.  Earlier in the week I stopped by my local bike shop to get some ideas for a route that wasn’t super hilly.  Since the B2B course is very flat, and now with a broken toe, I didn’t want to be wasting lots of energy trying to mash up lots of unnecessary hills.  I wanted it to be as close to race day conditions as possible.  I ended up finding a 52 mile loop that looked fairly flat – or as flat as I’ll get in this area:

Not bad at all.  I was looking forward to that nice little downhill.  Especially at the end of the second loop.

Compared to the B2B bike course, this was still a little bit hillier, but overall, a pretty good analog:

This ride is on top, B2B is on the bottom.

It was pretty overcast and crummy out right from the start.  There were showers and possible thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon, but I managed to stay dry for most of the ride.  But I wasn’t completely lucky.  For the last hour of the ride, it poured on me.  And it was fantastic.  I felt like the rain was just washing away the craptacular summer I had, and letting me start fresh.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I set out from my car a little before 9am.  My plan was to ride the 52 mile loop up and down the river twice, stopping at my car at the halfway point to refill my water bottles and get my “special needs” bag.  (I had thrown an apple and a peanut butter sandwich in there.)

Starting out on the ride, I was feeling really good.  My speed was hovering around 17 mph, and I felt strong.  Eventually, I hit my turnaround/cross the river point, and I started heading back north on the loop.  Over on this side of the river, I was on much quieter roads.  And of course, what goes along with quieter roads, is less maintenance.  So things were quite bumpy for a while.

The other thing I noticed was that this side of the river seemed to be mostly uphill.  So my pace slowed a bit.  But I was still averaging around 15 mph.  I was okay with that.  I didn’t want to get too hung up on my pace during this ride.  If I needed to slow down, I needed to slow down.  This was my first century, and I was riding with a broken toe.  I just wanted to roll with it.

The first loop was fairly uneventful.  I saw lots of wildlife while I was out.  Deer, sheep and goats (not really wildlife, but they’re cute), alpacas (also not wildlife, but still fun), and a HUGE turkey vulture.  How that thing gets airborne, I have no idea.  It was the size of one of my dogs.

After the first loop, I knew I was averaging just under 15 mph.  I pulled into “special needs” (AKA: my car) and replenished my water bottles.  I was feeling good, so I decided to skip the food.  While I was off my bike refilling water bottles, I decided to stretch out my hamstrings for just a minute.  That little bit of stretching felt so good.

Then it was time to hop back on my bike and set out for loop #2!

I was still feeling strong, so this was a good sign.  I really didn’t feel any fatigue.  My toe wasn’t painful either.  The only problem with the toe was that I couldn’t scrunch up my toes like I usually do while I ride.  If I don’t move my toes around, they tend to go numb after a while.  My left foot was okay (I broke my right big toe).  But I couldn’t curl up my toes on my right foot without pushing on the big one.  So that foot was pretty much numb for 75% of the ride.  Which, all in all, isn’t the worst problem in the world.  Later in the ride, I started trying to wiggle things around other ways, and I managed to get feeling back well before I stopped riding, so I think it’ll be fine come race day.

Around mile 70, I had my first chance to cut the ride short.  Earlier in the week, I had said all I wanted to do was at least 75 miles.  Near that point, there was a bridge where I could have turned back and cut off the last 30 or so.  The thought did cross my mind – my butt was sore, and my foot was numb.  But I talked myself through it and pushed ahead.

I had another opportunity near 80 miles.  And again, I managed to forge ahead.  At this point, I was feeling pretty good.  I was mostly just bored.  But I told myself that my legs were good and I was going to regret it if I turned back now.  So just suck it up.

Around the 6 hour mark, I was feeling great.  I knew I was getting close to finishing.  My endorphins were up, and I was getting into the early stages of a nice riders high (like a runners high, but on a bike).  When all of a sudden, out of nowhere a HUGE (unfriendly) dog came charging at me, growling and snarling.  I didn’t see him until he was about 8 inches away from my leg.  He scared me so much I audibly screamed, and started mashing on the pedals like a mofo.  His owner was in his driveway yelling at him, and I was so pissed.  The dog continued to chase me for a good 100 feet, and then he finally turned back.

Well that’s one way to get my speed up.

Not long after the dog incident, it started to rain.  The closer I got to the 100 mile mark, the heavier it came down, and the better I felt.  I found myself actually yelling out “bring it rain!” because I knew at this point I had it in the bag.

When my garmin beeped over to 100 miles, I let out a great big “woooooooooohoooooooooooooooo!”  out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farm fields, in the pouring rain.

I felt awesome.

I celebrated my 100 mile mark by coasting down the last big downhill.  Unfortunately, I had to squander away the downhill because it was raining so hard, I didn’t want to wipe out.  So I rode the brakes most of the way down.  But it was still a great way to finish.

Pulling into my car, I felt like a million bucks.  I couldn’t actually run run, but I did get off my bike and do a quick little jog just to see how my legs felt.  And they felt good!  My toe was still problematic, but nothing I can’t manage come race day.  At that point, I felt like I could have run to the moon.

So the final total was 104.1 miles in 7:12:41.  Which comes out to 14.45 mph.  Not quite as fast as I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.  I think come race day, I should be feeling good.

I packed my bike back into the car and headed home, but not without a quick pit stop!

Apple cider donuts – a local fall favorite, which I just recently discovered ARE vegan!

I earned those donuts, dammit.  And they were amazing.

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