How do you Title a Post that Spans 100 Miles?

The short answer is, you don’t. When a post spans over seven hours of saddle time, more like nine hours total time, over a hundred miles traveled, everything that happens in between simply cannot be covered in one witty title post. Unfortunately. I know how much you all look forward to my alliteration. Anyway, let’s get to the task at hand (trying to sum up this monster ride), and hope that I don’t end up splitting the post into multiples, thereby negating all the crafty intro/prep text I just typed up.

Team Wolverine, as we C’s were dubbed (no, I was not present at the naming and take no responsibility for our “winter animal” name choice. And don’t get me started on what on earth a winter animal is in the first place. Do they die out during the other seasons like flowers? Moving on…), were scheduled to roll out of the Marriott at 6:30am Saturday morning. I hopped out of bed around 5:30 and, after fighting with the evil hotel alarm clock for a full five minutes (I told you they couldn’t be trusted!), was ready to leave by 5:45. Well crap. I walked out into the hallway, thinking I’d go buy a bagel, realized I didn’t have shoes on nor did I know where the bagel place was, and quickly returned to the room. I did get a glimpse of my team motivational floormat though, so not a total wasted trip. Gotta love anything that can make you smile on no sleep at 5-something in the morning! After a quick room search revealed no mini-fridge or snacks, I settled for hastily made hotel coffee as my “breakfast of champions”.

I slurped down the vaguely horrid hotel brew and managed to sit still all the way to 6:10, at which point I had to go to the meeting spot. Yes, even though it was approximately 25 feet from my door. Better to fidget in the cold than in the room…I guess. Perhaps not surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one who was early. I joined ranks with Angie, Rich and Ron and waved hello to our team manager and head coach. After forcing down a granola bar at Ron’s insistence (you cannot start this ride on an empty stomach. So many rules!), I lined up with the rest of the crew for a few team pictures. Or, as I like to call them, the “before” shots. Seems more ominous that way somehow. Two emergency trips to the room for ear-warmers and long gloves (it was cold!) later, I was ready to roll.

The morning fog seemed to thicken around us as we hit the road. By the time we’d made the turn onto the first long stretch of road, my glasses were completely and utterly covered in water drops. As we started our first descent, I had condenstation rolling down my helmet, down my glasses, onto my face. So crazy! Pair that with what can only be characterized as a “really rough” stretch of pavement – 10ish miles of it – and the first section of the ride should have been torture. But it was my first century, and even roads causing awful jarring sensations up my bad elbow couldn’t get my spirits down. As we climbed the next “little” hill, the sun started to break through the mist. Right as I started to get annoyed with the cold and wet weather, I was treated to a view from the side of a hill, over the fogline, just as the light came out. It was awesome. Of course, it was also a descent, and the best I could do for a picture was to grab one back at the general area from the next stop sign. Le sigh.

The route cruised along Highway 1 for a bit before sending us to our first stop at mile 23. Actually it was only mile 20 for us…TNT starts at the hotel rather than in Solvang and then does the entire route up to the finish line. Technically, that’s a full 100 miles, as the entire route is 103.4, but the TNT veterans claim that you haven’t really ridden the Solvang Century until you’ve hit the finish line, eaten dinner, had a couple beers, and then ridden the last 3.5 miles back to the hotel. Well, the beer part is probably unofficial. Gluttons for punishment is the only phrase that comes to mind on the whole “false finish” arrangement! Regardless, the stop almost seemed to come to early. Yeah, it was over a quarter of the way through the ride, but I wasn’t ready to break.

Lucky for me, the route planners and team coaches know more about century riding that I do. More rest stops is better than less. Or so I would learn. Coach Devan not only stopped the group at the stop, but made sure that we were all eating and drinking properly. I managed to choke down a couple banana segments (seriously, it was too early for eating!) and laid heavily into the Cytomax in my bottle cage. I was wearing the Camelback full of regular water for the ride, but gimp-arm still wasn’t strong enough to consistently, safely pull the bottle from the frame while moving. Gotta consciously load up on those electrolytes at the stops! I earned a few glares taking pictures of teammates (too early? Bah! They’ll thank me later!) before we headed back out on the road.

The miles between stop one and stop two all sort of blend together for me. My energy level was still pretty high, and I attacked the climbs on Highway 1 with a vengeance. The uphill struggle was rewarded with a phenomenal descent; super smooth pavement and a wide shoulder. Even throttling the brakes like I have been since the accident, I cracked my season speed record by far (up to 36.5, I think). I can see why the organizers put a “Watch Downhill Speed” note on the route sheet! I’m betting some of those experienced riders (or possibly a well ridden tandem) could blow by that 55mph posted limit without trying.

We turned off Hwy 1 towards the second rest stop, at which point I discovered…the squeak. Now, my bike, for all its problems, had never had a squeak before. Loud popping noises when tires blew? Yes. Grating noises on concrete when I’ve fallen? Sure. But horrid, high-pitched creaking like a demented cricket? That was new. All I can claim to remember of miles 32-37 is how desperately I wanted to reach the next stop and have my bike looked at by the mechanic. All I could remember for the rest of the day was how little worth waiting in line for that mechanic actually was. Twenty minutes and a lot of cyclist muscling later, the bike had been oiled up and declared “fit to ride”. Thirty seconds on the road after the stop and I swear the squeak was worse. So goes life. Notice there are no pictures from this leg of the journey…

I should have expected this. (Well, technically I did expect this…see first paragraph note.) The post is already almost too long to be bearable, so I’m making the first split here. More to come after the break!


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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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