My training plan was 11 weeks long and started August 2. In the last 11 weeks I have:
- Ridden over 1600 miles
- Spent roughly 110 hours in the saddle
- Climbed over 29,000 feet in elevation
- Burned roughly 68, 500 calories
As with any training cycle I missed a few rides and wished I could have climbed a few more hills but all in all the night before Foxy's I felt more than prepared and confident we were going to rock this ride. Having never done one before I wasn't 100% sure what to expect but I trained hard, saw my training pay off the week before and was just excited to experience something new.
The race started and ended in Davis so the night before we headed up to our hotel which was literally 1.5 miles from the start. I always set two or three alarms the night before a race, however, usually I don't even need them because I am so excited/anxious I wake up on my own. It was a good thing I did for this ride though because I was in a dead sleep when the alarm went off. That is when I knew we were in for a good day - I wasn't even nervous!
Packet pick-up was only available the morning of and the course opened at 7:30 AM. I met up with Samantha, and the rest of our group right at 7:30. The five of us were going to stay together the whole day. Only one of them has ridden a century before (actually she has ridden many double centuries) so we all experiencing this together for the first time.
It was roughly 24 miles to the first aide station. The course was still very flat at this point and the first 14 miles were great. The last 10 miles we encountered quite the head wind though. All I could think was that we better lose this wind or this was going to be a very long day.
Luckily the wind subsided until we got into Fairfield. Once we hit Fairfield we encountered some great little (medium?large?) rolling hills. It was a welcome break from the flat road.
Not far after we hit the course split for the metric century and the century since up until this point the courses had been the same. This was our last chance. As we turned to corner to the century I think it really hit me I was going to ride 100 miles today. We were at about mile 40 at this point.
Once we made it through Fairfield we hit a beautiful section of road with lots of rolling hills and big, gorgeous homes and vineyards. This was probably one of my favorite sections of the ride. When our group hit the hills we tended to spread out a little since everyone was slightly different in terms of ability but would then just re-group at the end. I did the majority of this section along - I barely even saw any other cyclists. I welcomed the shade and enjoyed the cool wind in my face on the downhills - did I mention I *heart* rolling hills!
Once we re-grouped we still had some more hills to climb to get to lunch. These hills, while not so bad, just seemed to go on forever. I swear my Garmin was barely ticking and I was getting really hungry. The lunch stop closed at 2:00 PM and we were pushing 1:00. I was hungry and really hoping it wouldn't be all picked over. Once we arrived it left a lot to be desired (it was no Levi's spread) and I could definitely could see remnants of things that they had run out of (the Fritos were gone for example, something that has become one of my favorite long ride snacks) but I was still able to get a sandwich and a very large handful of mini nutter butter and oreo cookies.
Immediately after leaving lunch the course sent us up a very steep climb. Fine, I will climb, but really right after lunch?!? I saw a lot of green faces going up that hill.
There are a few well known climbs out in this area and one of them is called "Cardiac Hill" - a two mile climb at about a 6% grade. Definitely the hardest climb of the day and we hit this hill at mile 70. What was nice about this climb was that the road had little turnouts along the way so you could break it down into sections by stopping and catching your breath at the turn outs.
|Taking a break at the first turn out - sadly, that isn't the top.|
|Looking down from the top|
Shannon and Samantha were right behind us!
A climb that like came with an awesome downhill on the back side. I hit speeds in the 30 mph range! I remember Samantha flying by saying, "we got this in the bag."
Last stop before the final stretch was around mile 87 at Lake Solanofritos (yay!) and a chocolate chip cookie and we headed off. Oh, and it didn't help that it was during that exact moment they decided they needed to clean the porta potties. : /
We were chatting, joking and laughing for the next 8 miles or so. We were winding through some orchards and it was starting to cool down. Then at mile 94 or so I just wanted to be done. My butt hurt, my knees hurt, and it was flat all the way back to Davis so my legs got no relief. I would cycle as fast as I could and the coast and stand a little to give by behind a little break. Samantha and I had separated from the the other three by this point and while we knew we should wait for them we just had to keep going or we both would have stopped. We were keeping a good clip - 16 - 17 mph - which after 90 some odd miles is not bad. Clearly, we were way more mentally tired than physically tired. We both kept saying, "so this was your idea right?"
We did a little cheer when Garmin said 100 miles. This was also right when we started to come back to civilization after miles and miles of cow fields. We broke every traffic law and 5 miles later we made our last turn onto the road that was going to take us to the finish. As soon as we saw the end we sprinted and heard cheers from our spectators - her husband, my parents and Shannon's parents who had been very patiently waiting for us. We sat up, hands in the air - we just rode 105.7 miles!! Samantha and I came up with the idea and she has been by my side throughout this whole training - through all the highs and all the lows. I was so glad we could cross the finish line together.
The other three were right behind us and we celebrated with cheers and high fives.
|The final stats|
I have been training for running events now for three years but it was uncharted territory for me to train for a bike ride. Sure, I have done a handful but never properly "trained" for one and kind of just came up with my training plan on my own and hoped it would be enough. I peaked with roughly 121 miles in one week on the bike. I incorporated hill work and speed work. I was never going for a time - just to finish - so I was more worried about stamina than speed. I think my plan worked well for this century since it was relatively flat but I know next year to tackle a more difficult century will involve much more hill work.
With everything happening this year as it has I am glad I have been able to accomplish one of my goals of getting out on the bike more. I definitely plan to add even more in next year. I have also noticed that it has been great cross training for running and my running has become a lot stronger because of it. In turn, I think my running has helped me become a better cyclist.
After we all finished I grabbed my t-shirt and said good bye to my teammates. I think Samantha and I even asked each other, "so, when is the next century?"
So why was I in hurry? Well, I had to get into San Francisco because, well, a few months ago I thought it would be a good idea to ride 100 miles one day and then run 13.1 the next. That's right, one of my favorite races of the year, the Nike Women's Marathon, was the next day. Stay tuned!