Warning: the post contains swearing my lovely feminist friends 🙂
On Sunday July 5 I participated in the MEC 100 km bike ride. Sam, Jeff, Eaton and David were there too. Days earlier I floated the idea that Sam and David did not need to go slow with me as I typically putter along at 20 km/hr. You can read about Sam’s experience here.
I didn’t train for this ride. Lately I’ve been taking it easy on short, social rides with friends along the bike paths, nothing too strenuous and not very regularly. I figured the nicer weather and light winds would make for a much better experience than my first 100 km ride, which took 7 hours including stops. I was thinking I could do this ride in 6 hours but, honestly, my heart was set on 5:30, even 5 hours seemed plausible.
I’d raced in triathlons but being a slower swimmer most folks are out of transition when I get there so it is very different to roll up to 150 or so folks queuing up to ride. It was a lot of people but the weather was SPECTACULAR, sunny and calm, a cyclists dream!
Michel agreed to ride with me and I’m very thankful for his company and his knowledge gained from a few brevets he’s done with Randonneurs Ontario.
The event had promised a staggered start, by that they meant the 100 km event started at 9 am and the 60 km at 9:30. I had thought it would be like a triathlon where we’d start in waves like cyclists over 30 km/hr then 25-30 km hr, that kind of thing.
Like Sam mentioned in her post the course went onto the local bike paths, a busy time at 9 am on Sundays: runners and walkers and children OH MY!
Michel whipped past a turn off but we got on course. We passed a few skilled cyclists with flats early in the course and there were two women (names forgotten now….they were lovely) that we would see off and on throughout the trip.
The course was filled with lovely rolling hills and we got to the first check point at the Delaware speedway in 90 minutes. I was feeling good but the gravel from the road to the track meant walking a bit and riding in the grass. Roadies hate loose gravel and I didn’t want a flat as I knew the event 6 hr end time might be a challenge.
Back on the road, around kilometer 35, the sag wagon caught up with us. CRAP. I found out later his name was Adam, a super lovely human. He asked if Michel and I were the last riders, he was picking up the signs. Fuck. “YES. I’m the last rider.” The damn sag wagon. So I didn’t stop at the next check point. “Screw that, let those nice ladies be hounded by the sag wagon.” I thought as we rolled by.
We rolled along and I was feeing super pumped as we hit 50km and the Garmin said 2:30. Oh my goodness! Maybe I COULD do 5 hrs!! It wasn’t until kilometer 60 that Michel told me the time on the Garmin was moving time and my heart sank. I wasn’t keeping a 19.5 km/hr pace including stops, that was WITHOUT stops. fuck.fuck.fuck.
Just a kilometer short of the third check point a huge cramp shot down my leg from my groin to my toes. I pulled over and another sag wagon was right there, the fellow doing the 60 km route. “The next station is just 1 km away, do you need anything?”
I got some water and popped in some Nuun tabs I had with me. Michel knew this meant I needed to stop with water altogether, eat what food I had left and just keep to electrolytes and food, no more straight water. It was pretty hot, 27 C and high humidity.
The sag wagon driver for the 60km was SUPER nice, I think his daughter was driving with him and really, he was so kind, it suddenly became really ok that he was there. He only let me take his pic after the event as I begged him and told him he saved my ego from a total shit kicking.
When we rolled into the third checkpoint I called out “Is this where all the cool kids with the electrolytes hang out?” The volunteers and staff all laughed. There was a young boy and his dad riding the 60 km and I made a deal with him that if he rode really fast I’d try to catch him. Adam rolled up in our sag wagon so I knew it was time to go. I was feeling much better after eating a banana and a cliff bar in addition to the bar and bananas I had earlier.
Michel kept the conversation light but I knew I was slowing down, I had the Garmin and I kept seeing well below 20 km/hr so I would push harder. My perception was off and I had a headache. It was mild heat exhaustion, the rural roads didn’t offer much shade and the lack of headwind meant no free cooling that way either.
As we pulled into the last checkpoint the folks were chipper and Michel told me Sam and company and finished already. I knew I was an hour out at least and my heart sank a little further. I’d be lucky to make it under 6 hours and I was feeling drained. We rolled into London and I looked down 92.2 km. Oh I was so doing this! What happened next I swear is true. I biked for what seemed an hour and I looked down 93 km. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
The stop and go of traffic lights at the end was nothing short of soul crushing. I openly wept for no reason off and onto blind rage to sobbing, I was a wreck.
I rolled in with Michel, the last riders of the 100 km around 5 hours and 50 minutes to cheers and nice people.
Moving time 5:21, which was much faster than my first 100km ride in April that was 6 hours moving and 7 hours in total. I chalk it all up to the weather and certainly not to any training regime.
I was tired and grumpy after the ride but I felt the need to be a good fattie and smile for everyone. The nice ladies were still eating when we got upstairs and a couple of randonneurs Michel knew were there too.
I was embarrassed about being last but, like many friends pointed out, riders in my speed range stuck to the 60 km ride and I chose to challenge myself. I’m very grateful to my partner Michel for riding with me, I would have peeled off and headed home at a few points if it wasn’t for his playful companionship. I’m pretty lucky to live with a fellow cyclist. Our oldest son is peddling an ice cream bike for the summer and our youngest is ripping around town on his orange fixe. The family that cycles together stays together?
I was tired after the ride but not injured. The next day I was tired and had little patience but I didn’t even have a saddle sore. I can definitely do a 100 km ride at the drop of a hat and that feels pretty cool.