Yesterday was my last century ride for 2016--the Cream City Century out of Waterford, Wisconsin. This ride was recommended to me by Tim of my bike club. In case I haven't said it a million times already, I am SO glad I joined the Downers Grove Bike Club. So many good riders belong and of course, are all wonderful people to know! I love biking and I love people who love biking! It's like I'm in a big love fest every time I ride with them!
The weather for yesterday was predicted to be awesome--low 80's with light winds 5-10mph, and the weather delivered! You can't really get better than that, although mid- to upper 70's is wonderful, too. But this late in August, low 80's don't really feel that bad.
Initially, the plan was to ride with Tim, and have him pace me to my fastest century of the year. However, Tim came down with a cold, and also his primary bike was in the shop. I told him he needs more bikes if he can't ride because ONE is in the shop!
I posted to the bike club Google group in case anyone else was planning on going, but had no takers as of Friday. I didn't mind, because I always find people to ride with when I show up to these things.
I woke up at 3AM yesterday (alarm was set for 3:30) so I'd have plenty of time to eat, down the Ultra Violence (Twinlab Ultra Fuel) and drive the 88 miles to Waterford.
I've been using Ultra Fuel for 16 years, thanks to my first coach, Mike Arenberg (he's in the book Becoming an Ironman, and his first triathlon ever was an Ironman!). It's basically 100% carbohydrates that you mix with water and drink to load up before long events. It was formulated for bodybuilders, but I use it whenever I'm working out 4 or more hours. One of my friends used to sip hers over the course of an hour, but I just down the entire thing (I mix it with about 16 oz. of water), and then proceed to go into an insulin coma.
I ate my usual breakfast, coffee plus a hard boiled egg on a toasted whole wheat English muffin (how English can it be if it's whole wheat?) with a little jam, had one more soft boiled egg, drank 300 calories of Ultra Fuel, and then I drank a Coke on the drive up. I cook 8 eggs at once so I have 7 for a week, and the 8th one is on top of the others and comes out soft-boiled and I eat it immediately! I love eggs, and they are good for me, and my cholesterol is just fine, thank you very much! I also drank about 16 oz. of water after breakfast.
So, I had a bit over 800 calories in the tank before I started riding. I know from all the years I've been doing this endurance stuff (and great coaches) that you want to be loaded up before anything long. One of the effects is that you really don't feel like going fast right away, because you are still working off a significant calorie load. But the main reason to do this is that you will never replace the calories you are burning, and you probably won't be eating lunch during your session, so you can still bonk without sufficient calories in the tank beforehand, even if you are ingesting enough while you are exercising. I've ridden with so many people who fail to fuel up properly beforehand, and then they wonder why I am still so strong at the end of century rides. Sigh...they should listen to me.
In my cooler were (2) 3-hour bottles of Infinit (my super electrolyte/caffeine loaded custom mix called Money Shot delivering 244 calories/hour), 2 bottles of water, a bike bottle of Gatorade for the drive home in case I wanted it, a bike bottle of just water (Skull Kingdom's frame is so small I can only put a 20-oz. bottle into the cage on the down tube, and when I use concentrated Infinit that bottle holds pure water), 1 Bass Ale for post-ride, 2 pieces of string cheese for post-ride, 1 frozen water-filled bottle of Coke (that's my trusty cooler ice!) and a frozen bottle of Endurox R4 for my recovery drink. Freezing the Endurox R4 lets it act as ice for the other cooler contents, and then it comes down to still being cold after a century ride!
I left my house about 5:00. I had thought I'd leave earlier, but it's funny how things to do expand when I'm getting ready for these things, and besides I wasn't planning on doing anything else for the day!
I pulled out of my driveway and figured I'd start in on the Coke at 5:30. I listened to Diamonds and Pearls by Prince on the way up. Such a good album! I didn't speed too much, and didn't drive in the left lane much except to pass. I decided to stop at the Lake Forest Oasis (that's what we call the over-the-highway things in Illinois) to pee. All that coffee, water, Ultra Fuel and Coke necessitated the stop. I walk in to the building, and who do I see? Dennis, a guy from my bike club, that I'd ridden with 3 weeks ago, only I didn't remember his name. But we hugged (and I got French kisses on both cheeks!), and he introduced Scott, whom I'd met at bike club meetings but didn't remember his name, either. I assumed they were going to the same ride and they were, and I asked if I could ride with them, and they said sure. Scott hadn't ridden a century this year, and thus started the sandbagging. It's a tradition with these things, although I didn't trot out any of my own yesterday. Sure, I'm probably training a whole lot more than either of them, but I have no excuse not to ride a decent pace.
I left the Oasis a couple of minutes before the guys, only because I only had to pee and they were eating breakfast. I pulled out back onto I94, and not too long after, here comes a white SUV hauling ass. I decide to keep pace with it and it turns out it's Dennis with Scott driving! Well they keep going ahead of me, and before you know it we are going 100mph. I've never gone that fast in this car (it's only 2 years old), and I don't make a habit of going much over 85 on the interstates. I catch up to them and make some hand signals while smiling like WTF how fast are we going to drive? Scott dialed it back down to 90-95, and I (wrongly) assumed he had a radar detector and so would pick up any threats along the way. From the Oasis, it was about 34 miles to our exit, 333 (US 20).
Well holy fuck, that was some fun driving! Turns out I like driving my car fast! I didn't realize that we were supposed to race on the way to a century. Everyone knows that any century ride is a race even if you don't say it out loud. We get to Waterford High School, where the ride begins, and we park side by side. We get out and I immediately note that I have a bladder the size of a teacup and so I need to hustle in to pick up my T-shirt and cue sheet (which they spelled QUE at the table with the sheets on it which I thought was funny). I was pre-registered, so it was a snap to get my crap, but Dennis and Scott needed to register. Back at the Oasis, I'd asked why they didn't post to the Google group that they were doing the ride, and Scott said it was because they only decided at 4PM on Saturday!
At the registration table, I was standing next to Dennis, and I looked at his well-muscled legs, and commented, "My legs are bigger than yours!" Judge for yourself:
|I'm shorter than Dennis but my legs are bigger. Does that mean I'm fat?|
We took off, and initially, it was misting. There was a good deal of fog on the drive up, and after we'd turned off I94 it was pretty thick. It reminded me of when I was driving from the Albany airport to Lake Placid in 2007 and I was freaking out because the fog was pea soup and I could barely see the road. Great memories!
The mist felt fine on me, It was so light it didn't make a difference. I was a teeny bit chilly, as the temperature wasn't yet 70 as we started. Still, right off the bat, the 3 of us are passing people with aplomb. As we started to hit some hills, I lagged behind, because my hill skills suck right now--I haven't really ridden much hills since 2012, so it's natural I suck at it currently. But we'll fix that next year. Anyway, about 10 miles in, I'm not far behind the boys and I think my front brake is rubbing, and I stop and I was right. I fix that, and hope I might catch back up, but then I hit what felt like a pothole and shortly after that, I'm on a downhill and things don't feel right and I am thinking, "Please don't be a flat, please don't be a flat!" But I knew it was a flat. Fuck. My first flat this year.
I pull over and begin the process, only it's hard for me to get the tire off the rim because I sliced the tip of my right index finger (I'm right-handed) off Saturday night while slicing celery on the mandoline, and while I had it well-bandaged up, it still hurt to put pressure on it. So a guy stopped and asked if I needed help, and I explained my finger issue, and he started to help.He seemed nervous, though, I think because he'd never worked on a deep-dish wheel. Still, he got the tire off the rim, I inspected the tire and it looked fine, and I figure the pothole did it. Something got in there and jacked the tube. Oh well.
So we have the tube in there and the tire back on the rim and we use the CO2 and presto we're good. Only we're not. Either Craig didn't fully get the tire back on the rim or the CO2 blew it partly off. Now I'm fucked because the valve stem is (at least I thought) too far down the extender to get to to deflate the tube so I can put the tire back on the rim. Nobody, not Craig, not any passing cyclist, not me, has a long enough, thin enough tool to get at it. I'm fucked. I call for SAG and get voicemail. I try not to panic, and I didn't panic, but I really wanted to get in 100 miles! SAG never called me back and finally I unscrew the valve extender and fuck me there's the valve tip! So I deflate the thing and along come Tom and Suzanne, and Tom put the tire back on the rim and he had a regular pump and we got enough air into it to get me to the first rest stop at 25 miles in. What a clusterfuck! Well, lesson learned.
That was the first time I had a flat on the HED wheels.I know that I will continue to pay the extra $ for the tubes with the ultra long stems so that I know I can get to the damn thing without the valve extender!
Crisis averted, I thought it was the nice thing to do to ride with Tom and Suzanne for a bit. Tom was on a road bike and Suzanne on a cruiser, but boy they weren't slow! Turns out they'd ridden a century the day before and were obviously avid cyclists! What nice people! See this is what I love about biking! Suzanne asked where I was from, and she'd known someone who lived quite near to me! She asked what "I do" there, and I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "Job." And I told her I was done. I asked them both the same. Tom still works in IT for a small bank, and Suzanne said she is, "finding herself." She had done economic development work overseas, and said it was hard to get those jobs in safe (i.e., non-war zones) areas now, so she was testing out other options.
I rode with them for maybe 5-6 miles, and then I just needed to go faster, so I just rode off. I knew they wouldn't mind. Friends and other cyclists let friends and other cyclists go fast!
I got to the first rest stop at 25 miles and was relieved to get there, and asked for a pump and we loaded my front tire up. Of course, I got all sorts of comments on Skull Kingdom, and one of the bike club volunteers wanted a picture of me with her, so I obliged, and he took one for me:
His name was Ken, and I told him I wouldn't hate him just because he has the same name as my ex-husband. He even told me how to pose when taking the picture. I'm sporting my brand new POC aero helmet. Another first for this ride. Frankly, I don't think it's faster than my traditional aero helmets, but maybe that's because of how small I am. Still, it's a plenty comfortable helmet, and one of the things I really like about it is that it really keeps the sun out of my eyes.
Shortly before I arrived at 25 miles, I heard something fall off my bike. It was a little baggie of valve extenders and tools. Turns out I'd failed to zip my seat bag back up and it had fallen out. In the process, I lost an EpiPen that was in there, so I hoped I didn't get stung. Oh well, life goes on.
I left the rest stop and now I had to ride the 25-mile loop that was only for the century, and since I'd lost time with the flat, I was out there all by myself. It was boring and lonely, and the roads sucked. But the scenery was beautiful and the weather was awesome, so I really couldn't complain. About 6 miles before the next aid station at 50 miles (we returned to the first one for a second visit), I see a guy riding up ahead and figure I can catch him. He was wearing a hot pink jersey. I ride up to him and ask if he's on the century ride, and he says no, is there a century today? Yes. Well, obviously I'm faster than him, but as I pass, he speeds up and rides alongside me. So I say, "So you don't like it when a woman passes you?" He lied a little and said, "No, I just like the company." Well I'm thinking obviously you've been slacking if you can ride this pace but you weren't. Turns out he was doing his last long ride before Ironman Wisconsin. I asked him how many Ironmans he's done and this was going to be #3. He never did ask me the same question, but that's fine, I'm not out there to impress anyone but myself. He said he was just finishing an 80-mile ride and then running 6, and I said that's perfect and then you taper! I apologized that I wouldn't be up there this year to cheer, and wished him good luck, and then he turned off and I continued on to the rest stop.
This time at the rest stop, I had a half turkey/cheese sandwich. It was SO FUCKING GOOD! Even though I carry enough calories for normal circumstances, when I ride centuries during heavy training, extra calories are always welcome, and I do enjoy a hit of protein. I adjusted my Infinit bottles and headed out onto the next section.
Somewhere in this stretch, I either launched one of my Infinit bottles or else I left it at the rest stop. Another first. Fuck. Oh well, I still have 3 and can buy another one. I like them because they have lines drawn on them already. I'm not going to do that to any of my precious Ironman bottles!
There were 2 guys that I passed on this stretch, but then I thought maybe I'd like to pee and so I turned off on a little side road just before a big climb. Turns out I didn't need to pee, so 1 mile later, I'm climbing this big hill and there are other riders and I didn't do too badly on the climb, but some dumbasses (including my 2 NOT friends that I'd passed earlier) were riding side by side! Stupid fucking people! Then the road got really curvy and still the dumb shits are riding side by side while cars are trying to get around in a NO PASSING ZONE. Idiots.
Anyway, I caught back up to my 2 NOT friends, as I am faster than them, and I almost cussed them out for riding side by side, but I chose not to because who needs the anger?
We get to the next rest stop and it was just a thing off the side of the road across the street from what appeared to be a combination bike shop/bar. Only in Wisconsin! They had a rack to put our bikes on, and immediately one of the volunteers commented on how fast my bike looks, and said I must ride fast. I said, well I try, and that I won't even ride this bike if I don't feel like I'm fast enough for it. He said that was odd, and then I told him about a friend of mine, Dino, who has a really cool Trek with a flame paint job and that he puts tape around the frame and only starts taking it off as he gets closer to his target fitness/speed!
At this rest stop, I had another first--I ate a dill pickle! It was tasty, and I hoped it wouldn't upset my stomach. I was now out of Infinit, and figured I'd need the salt. I filled a bottle with the Gatorade they had, which was way, way too weak for my liking, but I had no choice. I took off and immediately began having trouble clipping in my left shoe. It had been truculent all day, but now I just couldn't get it in. Tough to ride fast like that. A guy named Dave stopped and clamped the shoe on there for me, and I thanked him and asked if I could ride with him. He said yeah, and we weren't going extremely fast, but a few miles later, we saw a pair of riders up ahead, and I said, "Let's go catch them." And Sandbagger Dave flies ahead like he has another entire gear! I work hard to catch up and I do, and we fly by these youngsters. Dave was hilarious and kept making stupid jokes like he hoped he'd finish the century before sundown! I enjoyed riding with him, and he said his quads were getting twitchy and it worried him because the last leg of the ride had a lot of FUCKING HILLS! Finally someone else throwing F-bombs! I commented that I throw them probably way too much, and then I said, "So they're not just hills--they're FUCKING HILLS?" We both had a good laugh, and then he remarked that the hills were going to wear him out, to which I said, "That's what hills are for!" And then I said, "Don't hate the hill--hate the rider!"
Dave and I made it to the 85 or so mile rest stop, and as soon as I parked Skull Kingdom, one of the volunteers shouted, "YOUR WHEELS ARE ON FIRE!" Of course, I smiled broadly at this, and everyone had a good laugh and a few riders went over to Skull Kingdom to take a look at her. Here's Dave and me:
And here's just me and Skull Kingdom, because as usual, the volunteers wanted a picture of her and I asked them to take one of me:
Guess who was reclining in lawn chairs here? DENNIS AND SCOTT! I was like WTF are you doing here, and it was partly due to Scott not having ridden a century this year. I was glad to see them, told them I'd had a flat, but all in all, I couldn't have been riding too shabby, right? I ate a small handful of Cheetos they had there (YUM!), and said let's go. Dave took off by himself, so now it was me, Dennis and Scott.
Dave had warned of the hills and he wasn't kidding. Now they came one after the next, and my legs were well fried by now, but I had to press on. I went up front, and I always worry that I'm not riding fast enough when I'm with guys, but then I think I'm usually wrong. Anyway, with about 5 miles to go, who should be stopped by the side of the road but Dave? He really was hurting. I waved as I went by and now thought I JUST WANT TO BE FUCKING DONE. And when I hit 100 miles, I was like HOW MANY FUCKING MILES IS THIS RIDE??? Those are typical thoughts during a century, because while they are advertised as 100 miles, YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. Plus I know I added at least a mile on my little detour.
One again, my 2 NOT friends were still riding side by side, the assholes, and once again, I passed them soundly. I bit my tongue and this time asked the guy on the Bianchi which race he'd done. Earlier I was sort of an asshole when I saw the number on his helmet and asked, "What race are you doing RIGHT NOW because there's a number on your helmet?" I dislike it when people leave numbers on their helmets or bikes after a race. I know for newbies, it's a badge of honor, and I excuse them (if they are on let's say a hybrid or MTB), but decent cyclists I wonder what's wrong with them. Anyway, Bianchi dude tells me he did a 1/2 Ironman in Door County. Beautiful place. He said the race was really nice. I congratulated him and went on.
I got to my car just a few minutes before Dennis and Scott pulled in. I immediately grabbed a piece of the string cheese to wolf down because I felt an impending bonk coming on. I had already put on my Reef flip flops with the bottle openers in the soles, and I took out my cooler and said, "Watch this!" I took out the bottle of Bass Ale and opened it with my shoe! It foamed over a bit, and Dennis asked if it was warm, and I said, "No. I'm a professional. I know how to keep things cool in the cooler for a century!" I sucked that thing down so fast--it was just what the doctor ordered! I asked if anyone needed dirty clothes bags (the high school had the showers open for us!), and both guys said yes, I loaded bike into car, grabbed my bag of clothes, towel and toiletries, and went in.
I immediately took out my contact lenses, which felt SO GOOD! Then I took the BEST SHOWER EVER! Someone had left a bar of soap in there, but I brought my own shampoo and conditioner. I toweled off and got dressed and was ready for FOOD!
They had lunch (or whatever it was--due to delay of game it was already 3:30) set up in the school cafeteria. A small salad, spaghetti and meatballs, bread slathered with butter and a bottle of water, and I think I shoveled it all in in record time! Dennis and Scott were just a bit behind me, yakking with other people including Tom and Suzanne! Dennis has a business where he makes custom jerseys and shorts and stuff, so if you need that sort of thing, let me know and I'll hook you up.
I sat across from the boys and was probably yammering at high speed which is what happens when you are all endorphined up and had a shit ton of caffeine to boot. Turns out Scott is the chief radiologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, which is where I have had many radiology things run on me. As I described my physician as "she," Scott knew who she was, and then he made a dry joke (I guess radiologists have a dry sense of humor) that he'd seen me before. Well now I finally understood what his vanity plate meant--BCUN U SOON. Earlier I'd thought it was just a "see you soon" thing, but I was wrong. I really enjoyed talking to Scott. He wasn't aware of just how much I train, and he understood the physiological challenges I encounter being hypothyroid and all. I described a little of my "journey" with that and how I was eminently aware of its impact on carbohydrate metabolism and sodium processing, and that sometimes I've been told I'm crazy, but he knows I'm not. He asked if I told my doctor just how much training I do, and I have, but really, it's hard for some people to understand. He told me to try telling them how many calories I am pumping through my body, and that that would help them understand why it's critical I be regulated on Synthroid properly.
We finished up and I told Scott I wouldn't be driving 100mph on the way home, and that I'd need to stop for gas about 10 miles out. We said our goodbyes, but here's me with Scott, and that's Tom and Suzanne in the background:
and here are Dennis and Scott:
I told them both I planned on winning the dessert competition at the annual bike club picnic in 3 weeks. I'm making individual Margarita Pies and chocolate chip bacon cookies.
I gassed up (cheap gas in Wisconsin!) and proceeded to drive home, mostly in the left lane, but no more than 85mph. Everyone was going fast, so I wasn't standing out. I drank the Endurox R4 (still cold!) on the drive back. When I got home, I drank another beer, wolfed down a small deli container of seafood salad, and then later I had a huge bowl of the sausage/tomato pasta I'd made on Saturday. I was well and truly shelled! That was a 21-hour training week last week, including one brick workout, one duathlon workout, one century ride, 33.5 miles of running, 175 miles of biking, 11,000 yards of swimming, 1.5 hours of strength training and lots of food! I lamented the fact that I am still without candy! My friend Brad will come through, though, soon enough, and all will be well.
I had such a wonderful day yesterday, despite things going wrong and riding slower than I'd wanted to. All in all, it was 104.6 miles in 6:18, which is slow for me, but it reminded me of all the hill riding I will need to do next year, especially since Ironman Wisconsin will be on the table, and that is where I will earn my Kona slot!
Hope you enjoyed this little novella--I enjoy writing it down!