Wow. Five hours is a long time on a bike. Five hours on a bike going around a .85 mile course is a very long time on a bike. Five hours on a bike trying to average 20 mph around a .85 mile course is a very, very long time on a bike.
That is what I attempted on Saturday. I’d like to say I pulled it off, but unfortunately I can’t. However, I did manage to finish with 93 miles for my fund raising goal.
As I rolled out from my home to head over to campus for the ride, the rain was faintly spitting. The morning was cool, but comfortable. Running late, I made it just before the start and lined up with the seven or so other guys who were going to participate.
We stayed pretty much together for the first lap, but I knew I couldn’t keep that pace if I planned to get my target of 100 miles. I would have to get it going and thankfully Dave McQuaid was there to help me out. By the second lap the two of us started to ramp it up. A couple of other riders joined up for a short time to form a pace line.
It wasn’t long before it was just the two of us. Lap after lap passed and we were able to watch the average speed climb. After one hour in, we were averaging 20.1 mph. Best of all, I was feeling pretty good.
At two hours in we were holding our 20 mph average. Behind me I heard Dave say, “Two hours. 20 mph. I’m toast.” We nursed each other along for a bit, but I started growing concerned that we couldn’t maintain the average this way. So, I struck out on my own.
At three hours in, I was still at 20 mph. However, now it was starting to fluctuate. On certain portions of the course where it was flat or downhill, the average would tick over 20 mph. Then on a portion where there was a nice little hill, the average would drop to 19.9 mph.
Then I finished a lap that never saw 20 mph. I knew I couldn’t push it or I would end up worse off. So, I tried to just hold 19.9 and hope that I would have something left near the end to raise it.
At 3:30 in, I knew it was a lost cause. The computer ticked down to 19.8 mph average and I knew I would raise it from there. It was simple math. Unless I got a second wind, there was no way I would reach 100 miles.
Not only that, but I was starting to feel it. My legs weren’t cramping, but the lactate was building up to make my quads feel like bricks. My legs were sore. My recurring hip pain started to come back. From my hip, the pain was starting to work its way up my back. The old neck injury was also unhappy with me.
With one hour to go, I was dropping down to a 19 mph average. It was now just a matter of having the will to go to the end. I altered my goal and figured I would be happy just to hit 90 miles.
I’ve done it before. Actually, my very first century on the bicycle was a 5 hour century. Of course, that was on the flat roads of eastern North Carolina. Those little spikes each lap where I had to come close to 400 watts to get up that hill really took a toll.
At the same time, this is the third time I’ve participated in this ride. Saturday was the most miles I’ve managed. Perhaps I didn’t meet the goal, but by trying for the goal I exceeded any of my previous attempts.
By the way, remember Dave McQuaid? Well, he slowed a bit after the second hour. I managed to lap him once. However, I never passed him again. Once I did catch him, but I was so beat I couldn’t stay with him. He ended up finishing with 92 miles! Hey, not bad for a couple of 44 year old guys.
When I first started the Time-Crunched Cyclist training plan, the book mentioned that while the plan would help in the short criterium style races it would not be much of a help training you for longer endurance rides. Well, you can say that again! It is amazing how good I felt for those first two hours. It was amazing how bad I felt the last two!
Special thanks to all the guys who showed up — especially those who came expressly to help take the wind for us (like Matt Jaeggli). You don’t know how helpful it was to have you pacing us in those early laps. Also, thanks to Eric Ritchardson and his family who organized and supported everyone throughout the day. Through all the pain, it was a blast!