Ride Report: Ride for the RaptorsI've done the metric century version of this ride twice, but this year I decided after the 60 mile ride every weekend I did to prepare for the half-ironman, I was in as good shape as I am ever likely to be to do the 100 mile version. I've only done flat 100 mile rides, and this one is very hilly. The organizers say 5500 feet of climbing, my calculations vary from 9115 according to Motionbased to 4619 according to Bikely (I'm actually convinced Bikely is wrong because it gave me a climb of 4769 for a 57 mile ride on many of the same roads).
It was a cold morning, around 50 F when I left the house. I didn't think a lot about how to dress but I got it right--shorts and shortsleeved jersey with warm armwarmers and a vest and wool socks was just barely warm enough when I started. I ate a big breakfast at Waffle House and got an early start, about 40 minutes before the mass start, because I knew it the 100 miles would take me a long time.
The first 30 miles is flatter than the rest, and I kept up a decent pace, particularly for a good part of the first 10 miles when I drafted off two men who had also started early. Not far after the rest stop at 30 miles is the worst hill of the ride, on Maw bridge road. The picture I took from my cell phone doesn't really give you a sense--it shows a little line of grey that is the road continuing up.
Some people I know passed me after the hill and invited me to draft with them, but I couldn't keep up. Still, I felt ok about making the decision at the 41 mile rest stop to take the 100 mile option.
That part of the ride goes north to Highway 11 almost to the mountains. There are no mountain climbs--probably only one or two uphills longer than a mile and none terribly steep. But it seemed like for the next 40 miles I was either grinding uphill in my easiest gear or coasting downhill. My one complaint about the organization of this ride is that only three of the rest stops have bathroom facilities--I stopped a a convenience store and also bought a pimento cheese sandwich, as the rest stops that far hadn't had peanut butter sandwiches (the next one did, but that was 25 miles of hills later. Some of the roads are pretty but there are stretches that are annoyingly long on busy roads. Thankfully it stayed fairly cool--the long hill on highway 11 must be horrible on a hot day. I had ridden the outer loop by itself some years ago and the route hadn't changed, which mostly meant I knew there were lots more hills coming. I took the uphills slowly, at about 75% of maximum heart rate and often less than 5 mph, and I felt I could keep going that way.
When I got back to the 40/80 mile rest stop the organizers were waiting for me. I said I didn't have much strength left but I wanted to crawl my way to the end. The last stretch isn't as continuously hilly but I knew I had four fairly bad hills to go. But I just kept at it at my slow pace, though it hurt some. I thought about quitting a good bit this ride but I wanted to be able to say I had done it. And after 8 hours and 38 minutes of riding time I had. Sporttracks says I burned 6,874 calories.