Two things happened this weekend that I never thought would happen:
- My blog turned three years old ( T-Rex Runner was born October 26, 2011)
- I completed my first century bike ride – 102 miles!
Both of those things are ridiculous.
For a little trip down memory lane before I recap the century ride, I’d like to point out that this blog actually predates my relationship with AJ by about 3 weeks. In fact, when our friend Tom set us up, he directed AJ to my blog so he could learn more about me. And for reasons I cannot fathom, after reading those posts, AJ was like “Oh, this sounds like a good idea!” and then proceeded to go on a date with me. I tricked him! Anyway, you can find my first ever blog post here, along with the picture that started the whole “T-Rex Runner” thing. Happy blirthday (blog birthday…it’s a thing) to me!
Yes, so on to the century. I’ve definitely gotten more into cycling since my back crapped out on me, and a big part of my recovery has involved cycling. So far this season, I’ve done 50, 65, and 40 mile rides with Amanda, Chuck, or some combination thereof. I wasn’t really all that motivated to try out a century because I was about ready to launch myself off my bike and into traffic at the thought of riding even 1 more mile at the end of that 65 last month, but as is apt to happen, I couldn’t turn down the challenge. I commissioned my friend Chuck (who has paced me to two half marathon PRs and listened to more bad stories than any male except AJ) to attempt this feat with me. My back hasn’t really appreciated super hilly rides lately, so we looked for one that was relatively flat and ended up in Orangeburg, South Carolina this past week.
Where is Orangeburg, you may ask? It is literally nowhere. It is miles and miles of farmland in the south-central portion of the state. That said, they have a great event and flat-ish roads, so it was game on. I decided to approach this ride with the same mentality as the marathon: take it one section at a time, no negative thoughts. My coworker helpfully pointed out to me on Friday that 100 miles is basically the distance from my house to Charleston, SC (2 hours IN A CAR), which really did not help my confidence level.
When we checked in before the ride, only 10 people were signed up to do the full century – not a good sign! This immediately began triggering my concerns of being last, getting lost, and being marooned in Orangeburg and dying in a cotton field. I ignored the fact that this ride was being put on by and benefiting the Orangeburg Police Department when considering this as the ultimate scenario. We took off with a good group of people and the early miles passed easily as we made our way to the first aid station around mile 22 in the town of (don’t quote me on this) Bamberg, SC.
I have learned to bring my own food when cycling and running since I never know if there will be gluten-free options, but I was pleasantly surprised to find Slim Jims at the aid station, along with lots of other things I couldn’t eat. It got me thinking about the fact that I never ate beef jerky as a kid, and what an immense personal tragedy that is. Was I not allowed to eat beef jerky ( highly possible)? Did I just not like beef jerky? WHY WOULD I NOT LIKE BEEF JERKY? I had 78 more miles during which to consider these questions.
The metric century (62-ish miles) split off from us somewhere between miles 22-44 – yes, I know my level of detail is overwhelming. The next rest stop was at mile 44 in the town of Ehrhardt or some other spelling, which was basically what I would envision a western ghost town to look like if said ghost town was located in South Carolina. Lots of crumbling and abandoned buildings and the southern equivalent of tumbleweeds – it was actually extremely depressing. We were chatting with 3 other cyclists when a couple came up behind us looking like they were straight out of the movie Deliverance and the guy said “She want to know how far you ridin” while pointing at his girlfriend? sister? aunt? No idea. We all looked kind of stunned and said “100 miles,” which I realize now was like telling them we were riding to Mars. They just kind of looked at us, mouths agape, and said, “What?” and we helpfully tried to say that other people were riding 62 or 27 miles and only a few people were doing 100, but that didn’t seem to help. It got me wondering, what is a normal amount of miles for someone with no concept of cycling to hear that you rode? Like, if we said we were riding 10 miles, would that be deemed reasonable? 20? I honestly have no idea. These are the things that happen when you live in a fitness bubble surrounded by people who enable your addictions.
One item of note on this ride was how ridiculous nice the roads were. You don’t really appreciate a high-quality road until you’re forced to ride on really rundown, rough roads full of pot holes – aka all that is available in my county. Chuck and I probably spent a total of 20 miles how cruel it was that these roads in the middle of nowhere – literally, no houses to be seen for miles – were in completely flawless condition and we’re taking our lives into our hands every time we get on our bikes at home.
Despite the safety of the roads, there was a serious bird situation that occurred. As you know, this is my worst nightmare. We rode through a slightly wooded area with vultures everywhere. By the time we saw them, it was too late to stop, and we had no choice but to ride through. Some flew high up into the trees, and the rest stayed low. I literally flattened myself onto my bike and peddled as fast as I could, and of course the biggest hill on the course was through this wooded area! I could hear Chuck laughing hysterically behind me and trying not to fall off his bike with laughter while remarking at how much faster I was suddenly riding. Hey, birds are dangerous shit.
The going definitely got tougher in the last 30 or so miles. I had been feeling nauseous for much of the ride, as I hadn’t really brought the right food and there were not a ton of things I could eat. I really needed more salt, but just had to chug as much Gatorade as possible to try and keep my levels up. Our pace did drop off a little bit, but it wasn’t horrible, and the focus was finishing. We also learned around mile 66 that we were actually not in last place, which was a huge relief to the psyche, especially when we found out that the next group was an hour behind us. Huzzah!
We kept a pretty positive attitude the whole time, but it definitely helped when the aid stations switched from being every 22 miles to every 11. We were counting down and both of us had some serious back pain going. Turns out it hurts to be hunched over on a bike for 6 hours whether you have back problems or not! Who knew? We did make a pact to make sure that no matter what, we would not get off our bikes til my computer read 100 miles, so we just really really hoped the finish line would not be short. Fortunately, we hit the finish with a little over 102 miles!
The police officers and volunteers were still at the finish with lots of food and drinks, but I was too sick to eat anything. Chuck literally swallowed a Subway sandwich whole while we stood there talking to the police officers, who were very interested to hear our suggestions for the next year. We saw the same people over and over again on the aid stations throughout the course, and they were rooting for us, so it was nice to see them at the finish line as well!
All in all, it was a beautiful day and perfect for a ride! I’m thrilled that we were able to complete the century, and even though my stomach still isn’t quite back to normal, I’m pleased to report that my back is feeling just fine! Can’t ask for much more than that.
LEAVE A COMMENT: What did you do this weekend? Ever done anything fitness related that you thought you would never do?