Friday, November 13, 2009

Journey of the Century Dérailled


I didn't want to end 2009 without completing my first 100 mile bike ride. With the arrival of fall, rain, wind, and cold weather the window to tackle the endeavor was closing. This past Saturday, Nov. 7th, it was an all or nothing ride. A ride that took me over unfamiliar road, endless farmland, and daunting hills. The morning began early and I loaded up on a nutritious breakfast and an espresso (in hindsight I should have had a double). Overall I felt good, the bike was tuned, the road food stored, and an extra bag of supplies ready for pick-up. I was fortunate to have Cristina acting as Directeur Sportif, providing necessary nourishment and water after I hit the 50-60 mile mark.

The scenery surrounding the small country roads outside of Davis, CA are simply stunning. It's a view that keeps you going. The rolling landscape is dream-like and feels endless. It's something you don't see when you drive over freeways and major highways. It provides for a grand bike ride until you hit suburbia. I was able to handle rolling hills and natural grades; then I rolled through a small suburban community and met hills of the likes I had never tackled. They weren't major but after going 50-60 miles they took a toll on me. The toll it exacted made the return trip feel worse but invigorating. When going over some of those hills I felt pain in my legs such as I had never felt. Yet, it fueled me to continue and fight it out.

I was lucky that day for several reasons. The weather was perfect in that I never had to remove my top layer merino sweater over a short-sleeve merino jersey. The air proved crisp enough to cool me down but not enough to have me shivering or feeling cold and the wind was mild. A small seat adjustment fit me into the saddle better than ever and Cristina's support made the trip easier. Then I got unlucky. I reached Davis, the final destination that got me into striking 100 miles. And then it happened...my bike would not stay in gear. The chain was jumping up a gear then down and around. I hopped off only to notice a damaged cage.



This would have really sucked 25 miles prior or even 10. I finished the ride and have learned several valuable lessons (other than carry a spare derailleur ha.ha.):
  • know where your water refill and restroom stations will be
  • pack plenty of water packets (I used propel and it worked out well)
  • eat, eat, and eat
Biking this distance was tremendously enjoyable and didn't leave me hurt or exhausted the next day. However, it does leave me wanting a more reliable bike (my Peugeot is older than I). It has also left me wanting more: more bike rides, longer distances, faster speeds, improved pacing, etc. etc. My 2009 cycling goal is complete and the winter season will leave me with strength conditioning, indoor cycling fun, and chilly weekend rides.

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