Summer, 2012. Preparation for my first two-wheeled century began when I wasn’t yet fully comfortable on two wheels, but I was anxious to do the ride. Call me crazy if you like, but that's how hard the century bug had bitten me! Basically, it was the same routine that I followed when working up to the tricycle century: longer and longer Sunday rides, experimenting with on-bike snacks, and so on. The big new thing was learning how to control the bike one-handed while I grabbed something to eat or drink.
I remember one practice ride in August very well. About eight or ten miles out, it looked as though I were heading into a thunderstorm. I decided to turn tail and go home, despite the cut to my mileage. As it turned out, that was probably the worst course of action. I don't have a compass on the hybrid, and the path I was using twists and turns so that it’s hard to judge direction. I ran right into some truly ugly weather: torrential rain, strong wind that seemed determined to blow me away, and fierce lightning.
I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of lightning. In fact, I enjoy a good lightning show, but not when I’m caught out in it the way I was that morning. I’d see two or three simultaneous bolts of lightning in various parts of the sky — followed in two seconds or less by very loud thunder! I was riding on an elevated bike path besides, which made me feel all the more like a rolling lightning rod. Nervous query: how good a conductor is an aluminum bike? It was a relief to finally reach a point where I could get down from there.
On October 6, 2012, I did my first two-wheeled century. As with the tricycle century, I set off before daybreak. It was a frustrating ride because of tacks on the bike path (copycat case from that year's Tour de France?), and TWO flat tires! First, one in the front, and later, one in the back. But I managed to get help both times, thank goodness. I wasn't skillful at changing tubes. In fact, I'm still all thumbs at it. I had to make a detour to the nearest bike shop to buy more CO2 cartridges and tubes, just in case. Later, I visited my usual bike shop to get things checked. For one thing, I had been hearing odd sounds that made me think my front brakes might be scraping. Fortunately, they weren’t.
At about 58 miles I stopped at a supermarket where I bought food and water, and holed up in the restroom to change clothes. It sure feels good to put on fresh shorts halfway through an all-day ride, especially in warm weather. At not quite 68 miles, I had to stop to buy an extra snack. I was at the stage when continuing a very long ride feels like a matter of sheer willpower; the muscles are tired and I have to coax one leg at a time to push and push again. It felt like I was on the verge of bonking besides. Bonking is not fun.
Just before 6:30 pm, at 85.65 miles, I had to stop to put the lights back on the bike. By October it gets dark pretty early. Not ten miles later, I had to halt and get out the back-up light. I soon started having trouble with the handlebar bag knocking the light off of the handlebars. I had to halt yet again to attach the bag to the bike trunk’s carry handle. All that starting and stopping was aggravating. When the legs are so tired, it's a lot harder to start again. Incidentally, that bike trunk is a mixed blessing. It makes it possible to carry more on a ride, but the weight of course adds drag.
At 8:12 pm, I finally hit 100 miles. Pedal time was 9:45:16, a vast improvement over the 13+ hours of pedaling that it took to ride 100 miles on the trike. The total time of 14 hours, 20 minutes would have been less if not for all the trouble with tires. I'm sure I remember having tire liners then, but those long tacks defeated them.
On December 15, 2012, I rode my second century with the hybrid, and something clicked. It went much better than the October ride. I had switched to clipless pedals (see blog page, 04/11/16) since the first hybrid century, making for more efficient riding. Where I live it can still be warm, even hot, in the twelfth month of the year. A long-sleeved blouse was comfortable all day, but it wasn’t too cool for shorts. It was cloudy, and sometimes completely overcast, for much of the day; but it didn’t rain. No tire trouble this time! The wind didn’t get bothersome until at least mile 70. And I didn’t get “fed up” with eating until about mile 80. That’s much later than in previous centuries. I’m not sure what made the difference, but I'm not going to gripe about it. I just wish I knew, so I can use that tidbit of knowledge for future rides.
This ride began at 4:40 am. By 9:45 am I was halfway through, and at 3:22 pm I was done!! Total time, 10 hours, 22 minutes. How wonderful it was to finish when there was still daylight! And in less than 12 hours! I was thrilled with my improved pedal time: I chopped an hour plus more than a minute off of the October time for 8:43:33. Now, I thought, what next?
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