Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Century Space Race: Ride Report

So on Dailymile one of my friends, Gina B, asked for a race report and since I have a blog that I hardly use I figured this would be a great place for it.
This ride was kinda of a last minute decision my oldest brother John asked William and myself if we were interested in doing the Space Race in Houston. I initially thought it was a running 10 mile race as I remember him doing something at NASA like that last year but it ended up being a ride. The options ranged from 20, 40, 62, 80, and 100. I had just participated in a small local group ride where I did a 77 miler last month so I figured 100 miles was the natural next step. So I signed up for my first Century ride WOO HOO!

We got to the event around 6:45 am and picked up our bibs and goodies then went back to our cars to prepare the bikes for the ride. After checking our tires slathering some sunblock on and taking a few pictures we were off to the ride. It was a rolling start which meant we could start anywhere from 7am to 9am so not much hoopla at the beginning except for a guy with a microphone yelling for us to GO GO GO!!!

Miles 1 - 12
Right away as soon as we turned off the parking lot the strong headwinds hit us. I was thinking to myself "Man its gonna be a long day" but my legs were still fresh and I wanted to keep a strong pace so I pushed through. This was my first big group ride where there were actually other bikers around and I had to use "On your left" quite a bit at the beginning. After the initial crowds I was off at a good pace going 20+ mph and actually leading a pack of about 5 which was a great feeling. The wind did get tougher and then another biker tapped me on my shoulder and told me "Get on my wheel" I thought to myself that could get dangerous if I hit his wheel but I stayed as close as possible and boy was that guy flying going into the 25mph+ at some points and I thought to myself "This is pretty badass". We reached rest stop #1 the guy kept on going but I knew my brother Willie didn't follow the pack I was in so I stopped and waited for him. He was probably a minute or two behind at that point so after he arrived we hit up the tables to fill up our bottles and eat up. There was so much food chips, cookies, Slim Jims, popcorn I could have stayed there all day really but we went off again.

Miles 12-24
We ended up leaving the same time another group was off and decided to just draft behind them going probably 15-17mph. I asked my bro if he wanted to pass them up but he told me that we should just take it easy so we did just that up till the point where they split off to do the 60 mile route and then there was just 4 of us at that point. Kept in that pack of 4 for awhile then it turned to a big group of maybe 12 riders fighting really strong headwinds up until the next rest stop at mile 24. When I write rest stop I put the emphasis on REST cause we probably averaged 10 minutes at each of them. This time I really ate it up. I had the cheeto fingers to prove it.

Miles 24-50ish
After that rest stop I had a bit of a tummy ache from enjoying all the goodies and again we had more headwind. I think everybody was struggling at this point there was this one guy that was drafting me through it all, we were going maybe 15mph at this point, until I got tired and he took the lead and told me "I don't know if I can go as fast as you but I'll try". He ended up going about 11-12mph which I had no problem with as I was pretty spent at that time. We hit the next rest stop after a giant bridge and were told "only 5 more miles and then we you have the wind at your back."

Miles 50-65
Those 5 miles went by and then the tailwind came and how glorious it was. The tailwind made it feel like I was flying. I was probably going 22-23 mph at that point until two Cervelos passed me up and I figured I'll just keep pace with them and boy were we flying going 25-27 mph I was so proud that my raggedy bike could keep up with them until the next rest stop where they kept going and again I decided to stop and wait for my bro. This was probably the best rest stop the volunteers were offering us ice for our water bottles, giving great advice on riding and gear, and just very friendly. Of course I ate my average of 2-3 bags of chips, a pickle, chocochip cookie, and drink as I waited.

Miles 65-77
Pretty much right after the rest stop the end of my handlebar covering fell off my bike and I stopped to try to look for it with no avail so I went on. Except my brother was way ahead of me at this point and there was a rider in between the two of us. As I was trying to catch the guy ahead of me, there was a bridge and an exit where the guy turned but my bro went straight and over the bridge. I was thinking "OK which one is going the wrong way????" I went over the bridge and sped up to catch and yell at my bro to tell him I think we are going the wrong way. We were on our way back until we saw another biker going the other direction and asked him if this was the 100 mile route and he said "As far as I know" So we turned around again went the way he was going. Maybe 3 or 4 miles more it was feeling more and more improbably that this was the correct way as the headwind was again coming on us and no other bikers were passing us. I told my brother that we should go back and that the turn earlier was probably the correct way. By then our spirts were low because of the misdirection and the headwind going back was again horrible. We got back on course and had the tailwind again but were exhausted by the wrong turn. As we hit the next rest stop they were pretty much packing up everything which really got our spirits down so we quickly refueled and went on our way.

Miles 77-85
I was really hurting these miles my seat area , shoulder, and feet all hurt. I really thought I may do permanent damage to my feet as with each turn of the pedal it was screaming with
pain but I ignored it and went on. Hardly moving now just going an average of 12-13mph I was praying for the next rest stop to be right around the corner. If I got off my seat to relieve my seat area my feet would hurt and if changed position my shoulder would hurt. I was pretty miserable at this point. I was seriously contemplating the SAG vehicles that kept passing me but fought those thoughts and struggled on. I reached the next rest stop and surprisingly my brother was right behind me. Took off my shoes to make sure my feet were still able to move, which they were, and went to refuel. We spoke to the volunteers and they were asking us if we were going to still do the 100 miles I told them we went this far why not. They did tell us that we could skip out on a 3 mile loop so the route would be shorter. Since Willie and I missed that turn we decided to go ahead and skip it as we would reach the century mark without it.

Miles 85-103.4
More of the same painful riding came with these miles. We saw the 3 mile loop and gladly skipped it and made the last turn to the greyhound park to the finish. It was nice to see a few volunteers cheering us on as we returned and even nicer to know I would be getting off the bike.

My first century ride was tough and grueling. Very similar to a marathon experience with regards to the mental toughness and the endurance aspect. I'll definitely need to get fitted so I'll have a more comfortable experience on my next century. Finished in 6 hours and 28 minutes 103.4 miles with a pace of 16mph, this of course is not including all the rest stops and the time spent there.

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