Ya know, I just might be able to pull this thing off after all...
This weekend I rode in the Cow Creek County Classic bike rally. My coach put it on the schedule specifically because it offered a 100 mile course. The most I had continuously ridden before was 75 miles.
No doubt I was ready for the challenge and looked forward to testing my fitness. I also used the event to remind my generous Team in Training sponsors they are giving to a worthy cause and I am physically committed to the fight against blood cancers and completing my pledged two half-Ironman and full Ironman triathlon in 2006.
The weather forecast called for mostly cloudy skies and scattered showers. The chance of getting rain was a hit-or-miss thing. If it didn’t rain on the course, the temperatures would be in the mid-90’s, if it did rain in would be in the 80’s but feel like a sauna.
OK, I can deal with that. As long as I can see the road and there’s no flooding I’ll be alright.
I arrived at the start of the rally at 5:30 and had plenty of time to fill my water bottles, air up the tires, and take a spin around the parking lot. They were serving breakfast, OJ, Gatorade, and COFFEE!!! Resist, resist the java, TriBoomer. Errrrrrrr.
Dark clouds gathered in the east and the winds started to blow the smell of rain.
The plan was to ride at a moderate heart rate between 135 to 145 beats per minute and an average speed of 17.5 miles per hour. I would stop at the organized rest stops only to refill my water bottles. I would carry all of my own food. Bathroom breaks would be made on the side of road. The idea was to treat this as an Ironman race preview. Yeah, I was stoked and ready for a good day.
The rally started on time and a thousand riders were soon out of town and onto the country roads. The rough, chip-seal covered country roads.
If you’re not familiar with chip-seal it’s a road surface made from binding small pebbles together with tar and spreading it over concrete. Unlike a smooth black top road this stuff it like ridding over a million little cobblestones. It’s rough and vibrates a bike like hell.
Within 10 miles of riding on the teeth-rattling surface my left foot was numb. By mile 20 it felt like I needed dental work. This went on and off (mostly on) for over 90 miles.
Around mile 25 I met another biker, Tracy. We got to talking and it turns out we work less than a mile from each other and decided to tackle the road, the rain, and the winds together. He would lead for a few minutes while I caught a draft and then I would take over the lead for a while. It was a pretty good arrangement. The rain showered off and on for most of the morning and the winds blew some but, combine that with the rolling hills and rough road, it made for a challenge. Despite this we were making good time and conserving energy as we pushed our way through the countryside.
At around mile 92 we picked up Gwen. She was all decked out in her University of Texas cycling uniform and was training for an epic Colorado mountain ride in a few weeks. She joined in the drafting and as we made our three man pace line. At about that time the rain blew over and the sun began to bake the road.
At mile 94 came the first mishap. My front tire suddenly flatted. I never have changed a tubular tire (the kind without an inner tube) or used a C02 cartridge before; let alone try it on the side of the road. Neither had Tracy nor Gwen. Tracy helped me wrestle the tire on the wheel as Gwen watched on. She laughed at watching two guys fumbling around with a valve extender and C02 cartridge. Neither of us knew exactly how it all fit together. After a little more wrestling and fumbling, and laughing the tire was on, aired up, and we were rolling again. Thanks Tracy, thanks Gwen.
It didn’t take long until I returned to my car. I quickly changed shoes, put the bike up, and hit the road for a five mile run. I took it easy the first mile, 11 minutes, and then picked up the pace to around 9:45 per mile.
When it was done I was tired but very happy. My back didn’t hurt, my neck wasn’t killing me, and my knees felt fine. For the first time I believe I can get off a bike after 112 miles and run.
In the end:
Distance: 101.2 miles
Average MPH = 17.68
Average Heart Rate = 143
New Friends = 2
Cups of Coffee = 0
Ya know, I just might be able to pull this thing off.