My First Century

 As I posted on Facebook: 2 years ago I weighed 460 pounds.  5 months ago I didn’t own a bike.  On the 20th of October I did this:

When deciding to do something like this, I decided I wanted to do it with some friends.  My friends Eric and Greg had suggested we might do this – they had done it in the past.  Greg had said that if I elected to do the full century (as opposed to the metric century) he would stick with me – and that he did, as did Eric.  Also along for the ride was my college roommate Ricardo and the 4 of us made a pretty fun group.
The Our Lady of Guadalupe Cycling Club
Eric and Greg headed to Davis directly from the Bay Area – I decided to come to Sacramento on Thursday night to cut down on the driving on Saturday morning.  But Friday night I was too amped up to sleep right away, so when the alarm went off at 4am I had only been asleep for 3 hours.  Not as rested as I wanted to be, but it would have to do.
I picked up Ricardo at around 6am and put his bike on the back of the Man Truck and headed off to Davis.  We got there right around 7, found parking, and picked up our packets.  Then we prepared our bikes and ourselves and headed out.  My Garmin says I hit “start” right at 7:24am.  The light was JUST coming out.
The 20 miles to the first rest stop were pretty easy and flat.  The morning was beautiful, and there were several hot air balloons to be seen.  I was feeling a bit of pressure – I had been worried from the start about being fast enough to finish.  The first rest stop was swamped and it took a while to hit the port-o-potties.  I did grab some of the tasty snacks (banana mini-muffins!), slammed a gel, refilled the water bottles, and then headed on.
The next section included our first little hill of the day.  As I said to Ricardo it was an amuse bouche of suffering.  A taste of things to come.  Seeing the heart rate get right up there to 160 was fun as always. After that little bit of fun there was a nice downhill and some easy riding to a water stop at mile 37.5  Greg and Eric had rushed ahead because they needed the port-o-pottie really bad.  There was a REALLY long at the water stop, but we got back on the road as quickly as we could.
After the water stop it was a short 13-ish miles to lunch.  I even spent some time leading a paceline which I hadn’t done before.  I was just grinding out the miles as usual.  After doing that I had my first mechanical challenge of the day – a dropped chain.  No problem, except that I was by myself at this point and I suck at doing it on my own.  (It helps to have someone to hold the bike.)  Another cyclist stopped by and asked if I needed help and he held the bike for me while I got the chain back on.  And yes, I used my plastic gloves.  No need to get dirty.
Lunch was at this little school.  Sandwiches and munchies and whatnot.  I didn’t want to eat too much because I was well aware – perhaps too aware – of what was coming up.  The vast majority of the climbing on this ride was doing to be in the 20 miles after lunch.  So I took my time resting, enjoying the music and the shade and getting fueled and hydrated to do some climbing.
The first hill up was the Circle Oaks Summit on Highway 128.  It was certainly the steepest hill of the day.  Three quarters of the way up I started hearing a strange sound from my rear wheel and notice that it had developed a couple of cracks.  As I was checking it out a SAG car stopped and asked if I needed help.  I told him I didn’t think so, but if I did I would call him on the radio.  (I had brought my mini-handheld ham radio with me.)  Once at the top I showed the cracks to Ricardo and he said yeah, I was gonna need a new wheel.  But at this point I decided to push on and see if I could make it – although fear of the wheel failing did color the rest of the trip.  Given this uncertainty about my rear wheel I was unable to enjoy the all-to-brief descent.  I tried to keep my speed pretty low just in case something went wrong.  
Heading on there were a couple of minor hills and a bigger descent before the other big climb of the day – Cardiac Hill.  Given the name I was worried it was going to be insane.  The reality was that while it was definitely much longer, with at least one false summit.  All there was to do was to gear down and spin it out.  I would stop when necessary (and did, several times).  But no hill goes up forever, so eventually I got to the top.  Once I did then I knew I’d be able to finish the ride – as long as the bike held out.  
After Cardiac Hill there was one minor bump at Monticello Dam, and then the last rest stop.  It was in a nice shady little park.  No waiting at the port-o-potties, nice cool water, and a good sense of accomplishment.  I had conquered the hills and now just had to get back to Davis.  The ride back in to town was nice and flat, and it went along Putah Creek.  It turns out that the little stream that runs through the UCD campus is not really Putah Creek – and it’s almost a river!  
Following the creek we ended back on roads we had been on earlier in the day.  This time, however, I was much more tired than I had been going out.  My knee started to bother me quite a bit and my quads were burning.  I knew what they meant about “the wall” at mile 80 for sure.  We stopped at one point at mile 90 just so I could stretch my back and it was a bad idea – my knee hurt a lot more than before we stopped.  One thing I knew for sure – no more stopping until I was back at my truck!
The last 10 miles were hard.  Covell Boulevard had felt nice and quiet in the morning, but was busy with trucks and cars now.  And I really just wanted to get back to my truck so that I could get off the bike (and out of my bike shoes).  Soon enough we returned to where we started.  I looped the bike around a bit to get the mileage over 100 since the official distance for Foxy’s was 98.5.  I wanted my first century to be an actual century, and sure enough it was.  I was pretty happy about being done.

So there it is.  After 5 months of riding I went from doing 2 miles on my bike in jeans to being a spandex-wearing, bike-cleat using road warrior.  As I start shopping for a “proper” road bike I don’t think I need to worry about using it – clearly I’ve found my sport.

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