Well, yesterday was when I rode in The 2006 Missions Century. I thought that I should post some observations and lessons learned in order to help out others who are thinking about riding a century.
First off, we ended up and rode way more than a century. 120 miles to be exact! God was, like He always is, Awesome! We had excellent weather, nothing went wrong, and we finished!
We met at the IMB offices in Richmond, VA at 6:30am. We were planning to leave sometime between then and 7am. We actually left at about 6:45am. Shortly into the ride, I figured out my odometer was all messed up. Lesson 1 learned: when you change your tires, double check your cycle computer.
The temp in town was 39 degrees. After we got out of town, we began to notice frost. I don't know how cold it was, but it was at least 32 degrees. I wore the following clothes on my bottom half:
underwear (I know, your not supposed to with bike shorts, but I always do)
I wore the following items on my top half:
my missions century t-shirt
my fleece jacket
As we rode, I was a tad cold, but warm enough to be comfortable. My goal was to stay ok without being too hot (I didn't want to be soaked in sweat). We stopped after about 30 minutes of riding to take care of a nature break. We stopped at a 7-11…while we were all waiting around, I got chilled, but not too bad (in other words, I had enough clothes on to stay warm while riding but not enough to stand around!). At this break, I just drank some water.
We rode on and took our first real break around 20 miles. I had 32 oz. gatoraide and a banana. We were all feeling great. We rode on through the country (have I mentioned how great the weather was?!). The day was awesome. We rode, chatted, rode, chatted, etc… We all had high spirits.
We got on rt 60 and rode on. By this time, we were alternating a pace line. This is where my second lesson learned comes in: have a good speedometer and have practiced paceline riding before hand. The guy in front really sets the pace for everyone else. It is good for him to know how fast he is going, how fast everyone else wants to go, and maintain that speed.
After about 10 mi. or so on 60, this cop went flying by on the opposite side of the road. I don't mean he was just going fast…he was tearing up the road. This got us talking about being on 60, minimum speeds, and joking about getting a speeding ticket. The next thing we know, we looked back and a state trooper was next to Cyndi and our support vehicle. We pulled over after he passed to find out what was going on. We were worried about getting told we couldn't do what we were going. It turns out, he just told her to put her flashers on. Lesson #3: Call and check beforehand. I didn't think anything we were doing was illegal, but it would have been nice to have checked before. Lesson 4: Research the use of a slow movin vehicle sign. If legal, put one on the back of the chase vehicle.
We continued on about another 1.5 hours to where rt 60 met rt 30. We took another break here. I had a banana, 24 oz gatoraide, and a granola bar. Here I shed my long underwear bottoms, my coat, and gloves.
We continued from here to Williamsburg. We were going to go take our picture in front of the governor's mansion. Cyndi went on in front of us to park and walk over. It took her longer than we thought to find a spot so we ended up waiting longer than we originally though for her to get over to where we were. This was good because we had the opportunity to talk with several people while there. Most everyone we talked to were surprised we rode from Richmond to Williamsburg. They were even more surprised when we told them we were headin back that same day.
Afterwards, we rode back over to the jeep, ate, and refilled our water while we waited for Cyndi.
When we left Williamsburg, the wind had picked up. We had to double-check our route out (thanks to whoever was parked beside us!) before we left. As we were going out of town, we met three other cyclists riding. We chatted with them a bit…they had ridden a Williamsburg-Jamestown-Williamsburg loop. They encouraged us on our century and we left them. Cyndi stopped at McDonalds for her lunch and we rode on.
The wind made our ride back less fun, but it was good. We stopped three more times before we got back. We saw one other cyclist on the trip back to Richmond (he was solo and going towards Williamsburg). At about 90ish miles was where I hit the wall. I felt terrible. The 2nd stop on the way back, I felt terrible (like everything I had ate was sitting in my stomach). My legs were starting to cramp, etc…. Kevin and Wallace were a great encouragement and took more than their fair share of pulls up front (thanks guys!).
As we got closer to Richmond, drivers were getting more impatient. As they were going around, we were getting less room, they were revving their engines more, etc…. Just a note…if you are driving and see a cyclist, just be patient. So what if you have to wait an extra 2 minutes. Give them the lane they are entitled to and go by like a sane person.
As we were coming into town, we had a slight hill to go up. I had been having trouble with my calves cramping. Well, on this hill, my calf really cramped. I had to stop riding and masage it (it was so bad Cyndi said she saw my calf twinge, move, and contract from the vehicle). I wondered how I was going to continue. I rubbed it out (as best I could along the road) and rode on. Wallace and Kevin thought it was because I hadn't drank enough water. Looking back, this could be the cause (I hadn't drank much the past 2 hours), but I think I drank more than Wallace and more than Kevin for sure. Oh well….
Our last real challenge was in Richmond….we had to go up a hill. Regardless of how we went, we had to go up hill. This was rough. The only fall of the day happened on this hill. Kevin was looking back to check on me and fell. He didn't get hurt and we kept going.
We then made our only wrong turn of the day. At the end of West Main, Kevin went right instead of left. Luckily we caught him and got turned around before he went too far.
As we pulled into the IMB parking lot, there was a great sense of achievement. God gave us good weather, kept us safe and incident free, and gave us opportunities to talk to a few people. I don't know how much we raised, but I'll have that in the next few days. I'll also get pictures up shortly.
Thanks to all who prayed and supported us on our ride.