On Saturday, Alina and I did our very first century. For those of you not hip to cycling slang, a century is any ride that entails 100 miles or more in one day. Our century ended up being around 103. Positive Pedalers, a cycling group for people living with HIV / AIDS, sponsors a century ride every year from Santa Clarita to Ventura and back in the memory of cyclist and activist Paul Hulse. Almost everyone who participates is part of the AIDS/LifeCycle in one form or another: they are planning to ride, they work for the organization, or they plan to be roadies. It was a beautiful and relatively easy ride (meaning that when there were hills, they were rolling hills as opposed to steep climbs). Our scenery included orange groves, mountains, and beaches, which was awesome. It all would have gone without a hitch were it not for a few factors:
1) Alina and I had never ridden more than 65 miles in a single day and we didn't ride the previous weekend due to that wedding of ours.
2) Alina suffered from 3 flat tires during the ride. It turns out that her back wheel had a sharp object lodged in the tire-wall and her rim-tape was cheap. Curses!
3) The vegetarian lunch was incredibly low in protein.
Oh well. Due to the protein issue, my energy level crashed beyond repair around mile 80 (well before my fellow riders). I suffered from much more fatigue than anyone else in my immediate riding circle and it wasn't until I realized that my lunch was lacking that I stopped feeling shame about it.
Strange things happen on centuries. All of the minor quirks of riding have the potential become major discomforts. Many people complained of numb wrists and... uh... nether regions. I was lucky enough to have my discomfort limited to fatigue and some slight tension in my neck. Everything else, like muscle soreness, rapidly disappears with rest. My right knee did not give me any real problems which bodes well, I think, for riding 545 miles in 7 days. Now, all I can say is that I'm really thirsty.
I've learned something important in my training process: every time I break through some new threshold, say riding a lot of nasty climbs in a short period of time, or riding more days for longer distances, it always feels more difficult than it actually is. One of the training ride leaders explained to me that it's that anxiety of newness that contributes to one's perception of difficulty more than the energy required to complete the task. And from what I can tell, centuries will probably be the same for me. When I got home last night (yeah... centuries are all-day events), I wanted to fall asleep... at 7PM and I was really thirsty. So yeah... Newness.
Now to return to that gallon of water...