Sunday, December 05, 2004


We left home late, as usual, and got to the campground around 9:30 pm Friday night. Our hut was supposed to have our name on it, but we didn't see any names on any of them so we just took an empty one. We did find that there was a bathroom building with electricity (labeled adults only) as well as the facilities provided for boy scouts: showers and porta-pot style toilets with partial walls around them. We climbed into our sleeping bags feeling pretty cold but warmed up quickly. I thought one of my kids was snoring softly but when I got up during the night I realized it was a man in a tent near our hut.

I woke up early and needed that time to shower and get organized and get breakfast (oatmeal and a hard boiled egg and sausage). I rode out of the campground about 7 and met my riding partner at the nearby school where the century rides started. We were early and it was hard to figure out where we were supposed to check in, but we did succeed in getting an early start, about 7:45. The mass start must have been late, as we were 10 miles or so down the road before the pack passed us.

The day started out cloudy and chilly, but not too cold and only a little wind. We took turns leading and in such flat conditions kept up a faster pace than I ride at home: we averaged something like 14.5 mph for the first 25 miles and then 14.2 for the first 50 miles. For the first 30 or so miles we were close enough to the front pack that there were policemen directing traffic at major intersections. Pleasant steady riding. I felt riding behind someone made a significant difference in the effort required, so a couple of times when I was leading I speeded up a little to fall in behind someone who passed us.

I didn't feel any pain until about 60 miles. After that I was intermittently aware my legs were sore. After we rode the only hill, over and back on a big bridge, my riding partner had problems with leg cramps, but we kept going. That part of the route was particularly pretty farm country.

I started out with orange juice in my water bottle but then switched to water. I tested my blood glucose at about 68 miles and was surprised it was 85, as it usually goes up with the stress of extended exercise. I had been eating something at each rest stop but my thought was to take in less carbs as the ride went on. When I saw that 85 I ate a half a banana and a rice krispies treat and drank some gatorade--I figured I must be pretty close to out of fuel.

When we got to the rest stop at 84 miles they had just closed it down, and we realized we weren't going to get to the last one, which served shrimp and grits, before it was scheduled to close at 3:30. At 90 miles I decided I was going to peel off when we passed the camp, not ride out and back the last 5 miles to a closed rest stop. But then a sag car told us they were saving shrimp and grits for us, and when we got to the camp I decided to keep going. I was hurting pretty much by that point, but it was mostly sore muscles, I wasn't feeling completely out of energy. The shrimp and grits were really good.

I rode away from the rest stop before my riding partner as I realized I was cutting the time very close and he needed to try to make a phone call. I actually had recovered a little and felt pretty good riding the last 3 miles back to the camp entrance, for about 101 miles total. But then I felt desperate trying to hurry down the sand driveway of the camp. I tried to ride when the sand wasn't too soft and eventually I did fall over and burst into tears. I got to our campsite about 4:30 and had time only to change my clothes, not even to take a shower, before we walked the one mile sand driveway back out to the camp entrance to catch our bus to dinner. The dinner was well organized and good and the emotional collapse I was feeling from the physical exertion faded. I didn't see much of the boat parade but did see the fireworks.

It isn't my first century; when I was in college I rode a few 100 mile days when touring and rode in one organized century that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first 100 mile bicycle race in the United States. But it is the first time I have ridden over 100 miles in almost 30 years. I bought my new bike in July (I rode my husband's bike for a week or two before that), so I have been back riding about 6 months.

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