On Sunday I got to scratch another thing off of my life to-do list as I completed my first century ride. I pedaled on my bike all day; one hundred miles from Evanston, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin and back.
I was in the saddle by around 9:30am on a chilly morning and on my way north. The first 20 miles flew by and I was at the first rest stop before I knew it. I refilled on Gatorade, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana that was provided for the riders while I chatted with a few fellow riders.
I kept up a good pace and found a riding buddy who was riding about the same speed to take us to the half way point and another rest stop. By this point in the day it had warmed up nicely into the 70s and was perfectly sunny. I took my time at the rest stops and at this one in particular I chatted for a few minutes on my phone before turning around and heading back towards Chicago.
The North Shore Century route took riders right by an outdoor velodrome and I couldn't pass it up, so I wished my riding buddy a good rest of the ride, rolled in and gave it a spin. Those banks seem a lot steeper when you are riding around in there.
The next stretch of the ride was by far the highlight of the whole day. We passed through the little, quiet lakeside town of Kenosha, Wisconsin and stuck within sight of Lake Michigan for approximately the next 25 miles. I pulled over every now and then to snap several photos, all of which look a lot like this one:
At the next rest stop
about 73 miles into the rideI learned that my riding buddy from earlier had SAG-ed in and didn't complete the century. I hope he wasn't injured, but if I had to guess why he called it quits I think it was because his original intention was to do the metric century (100 km or 62 miles) and he made a decision at the last minute when the metric century and the full century courses split to go for the 100 miles. He probably figured if it got tough after 62 miles he could quit and still feel like he completed his ride. Not me. I did the exact opposite four years ago--intentioned to complete the full 100 miles and ended up deciding mid-ride that it would be best to go for the 62-mile route. This time around I was going to finish it all.
The last 25 miles were pretty tough. My toes had started to go numb and my lower back was aching. I started looking at my watch and the map more often, continuously calculating my estimated time of finishing. I encountered a freight train that was moving extremely slow and blocking my way. When I was able to continue riding, it was difficult to get my body moving again. A veggie omelet with cheese from the Deluxe Diner dominated my thoughts as I slowly but steadily knocked off the miles of the last leg of the century ride.
I signed up for a long day on the bike and that is definitely what I got!
(the red points are where the rest stops were located)