The thought of riding a 100+ mile bike ride has been on my mind for a while, but I had some serious doubts if I could do it or not. Not because I was afraid my legs would blow out, but a lot of other factors such as overall body fatigue, if I could sit for that long, how I could stay properly nourished, etc. All of those things made me fairly nervous about the concept, but I got over it pretty fast when my training partner invited/challenged me to a century ride this past Sunday. Just him and I on a 100+ mile loop which I ended up mapping out and putting together (big mistake). So let me go ahead and describe the various stages.
Pre-Ride: I went out into the garage to check my bike over, lube my chain, and adjust my seat. Immediately, i saw that I had a flat which I took as a bad omen. This forced me to head to the bike shop where I got some excellent advice on nutrition for the big ride. They loaded me up with about 1500 calories of food and suplements along with a freshly fixed flat and sent me on my way.
Murrieta - Fallbrook: The ride did not start easy. We took a bike trail pretty casually down to the base of the De Luz area and began our mission through the hills on our way to San Diego. The first hill is a 2 mile 700ft elevation climb which I figured was going to be the hardest of the ride. Not really something I wanted to start with, but probably good to get it out of the way right off the bat than deal with something like that towards the end... so I thought.
Fallbrook - Leucadia: Once we got into Fallbrook, we started descending for like 20-30 minutes, diving down to sea level from some pretty good elevation. I am not sure what the elevation change was, but it was the longest decent I have ever done. Once we got down into the Oceanside area on our way to Leucadia, we started hitting some barn burning hills. None of them were unbearable, but it was just a nasty 15-20 mile stretch of rolling hills which were all unexpected. Here I was expecting a nice flat road that ran parallel to the ocean and it was not by any means. The last hill we hit coming into Leucadia was probably the second worst of the ride to this point as well which was painful. At this point, we were almost exactly 60 miles in.
Leucadia - Oceanside: Finally a break! At the turn around point, we had a leasurely 15 mile trek up Pacific Coast Highway which was awesome. A nice tail wind was pushing us along and we were using this time for recovery. Unfortunately, some old man on a Townie decided to show me the wheel at one point which inspired me to take off and beat myself up for this stretch that was supposed to be relaxing. My friend got a flat a couple hundred yards before the burger shop we planned to stop at, so he fixed that and then we rested for about 30 minutes while we refueled on some delicious french fries and hamburgers. Yum Yum.
Oceanside - S. Fallbrook: We took off from the burger joint, bellies full and relaxed, ready for a nice leasurely 15 mile stretch before heading back up the hills into Temecula. That lasted for about 3 miles until we hit an unexpected hill which got us right back to questioning how we were going to make it another 45 miles. Ahhh. Luckily, after that, we did get a 10 mile stretch that was pretty easy before we hit Gopher Canyon Rd. At Gopher Canyon, I think we still had another 35 miles to go and this is where it started to get brutal. At the end of Gopher Canyon, we hit a 9% downgrade which got me going 51 MPH. That was super fun! Though, this also meant that I was just going to have to climb that much more after I got to the bottom... the pain begins.
S. Fallbrook - Temecula: Oh my gosh... After I calmed down from that high speed descent I realized I was about 90 miles into my ride and had about 15 miles of serious climbing to do. This was the strongest test of my will that I had ever gone through. I've played through pain and injury before becuse adrenaline would just take the hurt away. That was different because I was playing in a game where I'd be able to rest and recuperate in between action. When I looked up and saw the road ahead of me I knew it would take more than a little excitement to get me all the way to the finish. I dug deep and started the climb.
Hill 1: This was the worst (it was possibly the hardest of the whole ride, but I was so beat by this point, its hard to give n honest opinion) of this climb. I believe it was about 3-4 miles in total length and half of it was up a 7-9% grade and that was at the top. This hill was the closest I came to actually clipping out and stopping, but I held it together and made all the way going 4-5mph at the top. The backside of this hill was a 7% downgrade that was another lengthy decent that I had a hard time enjoying due to the fact that it just made the next hill that much steeper and longer.
Hill 2: This will was the gift that just kept on giving. A 5-6 mile grinder that took you up and over the mountain range into Temecula through the small city of Rainbow. This was a diffcult hill to climb at this point, but i was thankful to be going up this thing compared to the last one I was just on. As a matter of fact, just about all I thought of for the rest of the ride is how much I never wanted to climb Hill 1 again.
Temecula - Murrieta: Payday! We hit one last nice decent through some windy rounds and a golf course into Temecula. Their were a couple very small hills that we hit on our way to a bike path which would eventually get us home. To my surprise, we still had some energy and ending up doing about 17-18 on the flats which I was pretty happy with.
Stats: The ride took us 9 hr 15 minutes total to complete with an actual 8 hr 15 minutes of seat time. We rode a total of 116 of the hilliest miles I have ever ridden. We averaged a little over 14mph and I burned over 6600 calories. I ate and drank about 1800 calories worth of food in order to survive the journey. We only had 1 malfunction which was a flat tire. 52MPH was the top speed of the ride. 4.2MPH was the low speed of the ride. 7 hours is how long I had to endure a stitch that was in the right side of my stomach before it went away. OUCH!
What I learned:
Be prepared. If I had not loaded up on carbs a few days in advance and talked to the guys at the bike shop on how to stay properly nourished, I would have probably given up or had to stop more. Take spare tubes and a mini tool kit with you. 8 hours on a bike can bring up a lot of unexpected problems that you will want to be able to fix.
Do not do this alone. For one, you will want a friend with you to help motivate you and keep you company. Also,a lot of the ride took me places where I had no cell phone service. It would have been a nightmare if I was alone and my bike had broke or I got injured.
Pre-Run the Course: I had never driven on about 40 miles of the course and I paid for it. Looking back, I would never have planned the hardest hill to be at mile 80. That was a mistake and I won't let that happen next time.
Never give up: The longest ride I had done prior to this one was a 50 miler. It was my heart and determination that kept me going on this one. I found out alot about what I was actually made of and am extremely proud to say I accomplished what I did.If you set your mind to something, it will be accomplished.
Here's a snapshot of my route. Those little blue things are mile markers.