A Century

Back in October of last year I rode in Foxy’s Fall Century.  I had built it up into a major stress-filled event in my head.  Could I do it?  How could anyone ride 100 miles?  Was I gonna crash and burn?  Well, as you may remember, that did not happen.  I had a decent time with my posse and made it out safe and secure.  This year a century wasn’t a training goal.  It was just another training ride.  I tried not to even think about it.  “Oh, yeah, just another century.”  No big whoop.  And…that’s pretty much how it happened.  No big whoop.

The day started out in the dark and we (Tom and I) arrived at the start point on time – even a bit early.  Tom was driving SAG today, but he was 1 of 2 SAG drivers.  The other driver – a very experienced ALCer – gave him some tips.  The usual pre-ride festivities and we were off!
The route started by going out and through Arastradero Preserve.  I’ve had enough of that place, really.  Yes, it’s pretty.  And yes, it’s a good ride.  But between the pre-Xmas rides and the early part of the year I’ve had enough.  Really.  The good news was that instead of turning left at Alpine and continuing the climb to Robert’s Market we got to go down Alpine, which was much more fun.  A quick jog over to 84 and down towards the bridge and our first rest stop of the day. I realized there that I had lost my route sheet, but Andrew gave me one (which I hope was an extra). It turns out that I needed it later.
Thankfully the bridge was much less messed up than last time.  They had fixed the bike path, so getting on and off the bridge was painless.  The road after the bridge was as it always is – just the roughest, buzziest road you can think of.  Given what the pro riders were going to be doing the next day (Paris-Roubaix) it seemed appropriate.  And again I had that odd experience where my feed and hands were buzzing but my butt was not due to my magic seatpost.  After that it was Mission Blvd. I remembered it from last time – mostly because a lot of it was a “false flat”.  By the time I got to the second rest stop I was ready for a break.
The third leg was where things went a bit sideways.   There were a couple of turns that were just not on the electronic cue sheet, and I missed them twice.  I ended up doing about an extra mile.  And given that once I realized it I had to go back uphill to get back on course I was not happy.  I texted Tom to let him know, and he let the sweep TRL know that I was back on course.  Also, once I got up with him Tom had let me know there was a bathroom about “a mile up the road”.  Which was good, because I had to pee in the worst way.  Unfortunately the mileage estimate was a bit off, and it was about 4 miles up.  I was cranky about getting lost, getting me more behind, Garmin being lame, and a full bladder.  This was not Happy John.  Eventually the bathroom was found and there was much rejoicing.  There was only about a mile and a half from there to lunch and it was with a nice downhill.  I was in such a bad mood when I got to lunch that I gave in and had Panda Express.  
The fourth leg had the only real climb of the day (although there had been plenty of climbing for me before this point).  The hill was your basic sonofabitch, pretty much.  I had to stop a few times on the way up when my HRM said I was north of 170 and I started to get shaky.  I heard that last year the temperatures were north of 100.  I have no idea how I could have even done it then.  I was in pretty rough shape at this point.  But we got up and over it and then the next challenge was the Santa Theresa Slog.  5 miles long, straight, headwinds, and just lameness.  Again, it was survived.
At the last rest stop I was both feeling pretty good and a bit apprehensive.  I knew we were gonna have the climb up that bit of Highway 9 and I never like that.  It’s not a “real” climb, but it’s enough to be annoying.  Andrew, the sweep for the last leg, gave me a nice head start.  Once I was past that climb I knew we only had a mostly downhill 15 miles left.  There was a quick climb up McClellan and then back down Foothill.  The last part was really fun because the gentle downhill slope let me go 15mph + and feel strong.  That is until the guy in the recumbent dusted us like we were standing still.  Going up Shoreline we hit EVERY SINGLE LIGHT WRONG.  So much for finishing in stellar fashion.  I pulled into the lot with almost 102 miles on the odometer.  Quite the day.  I was glad enough to have finished that I wasn’t too annoyed with being last.
Today was a day for beverages. In my search for the best electrolyte solution for me I tried quite a few things.  A few days before this ride I tried the Blackberry flavor from Osmo Nutrition but I didn’t like it.  On this ride I tried their Orange flavor and that wasn’t great either.  I also tried the Endurolytes Fizz from Hammer.  They have many flavors, but the one I tried made me gag.  I had to force myself to drink it.  The one that was the hands-down winner was the Skratch Labs “Lemons and Limes” flavor.  Super easy to drink.  Not too heavy.  I may very well go through the effort to bring enough of this on the ride for me to use all the time.  They have a new fan!  I have to admit, I had been hoping I’d like Osmo better – their beverage is closer in composition to what the Endurolytes capsules contain.  But I figure that if the Skratch lets me stay mostly ahead of the electrolyte game then I can supplement with the caps when needed.    
There were some other nutrition experiments today. Instead of bringing individual gel packs I used a flask from Hammer and filled it with my favorite flavor of Hammer Gel.  I feel this works very well – the ease of use of the flask is worth being stuck with only one flavor of gel.  I don’t know if this will work well for me on the ride or not – individual packs might work better then having to bring a big bottle.  I’ll debate that internally.  I also had their Recoverite beverage before getting in the car to go home – the chocolate was FOUL.  That’s not gonna work well.  I also ate one of their whey recovery bars.  The bar was not quite as foul, but it’s not really good either.  They have a lot of science to back up their claims, but I wouldn’t mind a better tasting replacement for either of them.

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