Monday, November 12, 2012

100 Miles...

... is a long time to ride on a bike!

or when asked this week, "How was the ride?" My line was, "Well...the first 90 miles were easy..."

In truth, it felt pretty self-indulgent to do a century on the beautiful SoCal coast when so many on the east coast were without power and were (and still are) trying to have patience while getting their lives back into something that more closely resembles order. As I am now a very, very, very part time blogger at best, I have sorta lost contact with some (many) of my east coast blogger friends. Some blog regularly, some less so, some maybe have stopped all together, but luckily due to the magic that is Facebook, I still keep in touch with more than a few of you

In any event, as I cruised up and down the SoCal coast last weekend, on a particularly brilliant and perfect day, I couldn't help but think how blessed I am to live in this part of the world, how lucky I am to be able to do the things I love to do, and even while I write this, I am struck by how enviable my life may be, if only for the fact that our home has electricity and I have the power, literally, to use my computer.

100 miles gives you a LOT of time to think about things...

Yeah... I know, a brutal day to be in SoCal...
The herd (well...three of us) completed our first Century, and Wilma completed a 50 miler. The course for the century was one that we have been on, in shorter segments, plenty of times. Up and down the coast, from the Oceanside Pier through Del Mar, then a short loop around Carmel Valley, then back up to Oceanside...Twice for the Century, once (obviously) for the 50 mile route.

There you have it... back and forth...four times
On the way south, there was a nice tailwind and so we flew, as we headed north, it was into the wind, so we formed our pace line and pulled each other along.
Seven...pulling the herd along...about 85 miles into the ride.
So, here's a photo recap.
It was still darkish when we pulled into a parking structure near the Oceanside Pier. We were pretty efficient in getting our stuff together and organized for the morning. The biggest question was how many layers of clothing to wear. The morning was a little cool
At the start. The Century riders started at 6:50...we started at 7:05. Don't we look snazzy with our alternating lime-green and black sleeves?
The first 25 miles of the ride was crowded, which led to some frustrations along the way, especially through Carlsbad and Encinitas where there is lots of stopping and starting due to traffic lights, but for the most part, everyone was polite. Before the ride, Mik said she was going to say hello to everyone who we passed, so I followed suit.
Mik and I at the 25 mile SAG stop. The morning wasn't cloudy, but it was so darn early when we started, and it was before the time change, so it was sorta dawn-y, so I wore the yellow lenses. They worked out really well.
I just love this photo because it illustrates my extraordinary photography skills and how I NEVER pay attention to anything in the background whenI decide to take a shot!
At the 25 mile SAG, we we caught up to Wilma (or she caught up to us). She'd left before we did, but had stopped at a 13 mile SAG. I was (and still am) so proud of her. We chatted for a little bit and decided to leave together, but we lost her at a stoplight.

The second 25 miles were back up the coast, and into the coast winds...and it was windy last Saturday. We headed back out onto the route which took a little loop up El Camino Real and then toward Villa De La Valle, the Del Mar Race Track, and the back to the coast. As we headed toward El Camino Real, we saw probably one of the scariest things of the day, a cyclist down on the road with paramedics around her. I could see the blood on the road and a VERY still body lying face up. It didn't look good. There's a post on Facebook from the ride that she's OK, but it definitely gave everyone something to think about. Being safe.

The ride up El Camino Real was probably the longest assent in the whole ride...maybe a 5 or 6% grade, but it's longish (maybe about 2 miles) But the good thing about going UPhill is getting to go down!

Wheeeeee. I got up to about 39mph on the first descent.

From there it was around the racetrack and then to the coast where we immediately felt the headwind. Despite the wind, we still maintained about a 15mph pace.

After the previous week's fall, I was a little concerned that I'd end up feeling an ache or two as the ride progressed. I was pleased that at 50 miles, I still felt pretty good.
Ah... 50 miles!
The 50 mile SAG offered us Subway Sandwiches (which I took), and both a view of the ocean AND the finish line. Note to self: don't sign up for another century that is a double loop. I felt fine, but I really wanted to stop and have a beer. I'm not gonna lie. But we had a century to do, so off we went!

Stopped at a light in We followed Arrogant Bastard Ale guy for awhile. Here's nice view of the backs of the Heffer jerseys on Seven and Betty. The day became sufficiently warm enough to take off the arm-warmer sleeves. 
Again... I have NO IDEA what i was taking a picture of...and I only add this photo now because I had noticed that Mik kept adjusting her "seat." She told us later that she'd gone "butterless" for the ride, something that we all found amazing and EXTREMELY AMUSING!!!
As we headed south, we saw Wilma again headed into Oceanside. She said she was done for the day. Big thumbs up to her!

Miles 50 - 75 miles were the same as the first, back down the coast, only warmer and THANKFULLY, less crowded. With the wind at our backs, we cruised down the coast. I turned off the 1 mile "lap" timer on my Garmin, so I have no idea what our pace was for Miles 50-75, but they certainly FELT faster. Before we knew it, we were back at SAG 1, which was now SAG 3.
At 75 miles, we took pix of our feet. And yes, we have matching cow socks.
Somehow Betty thought everyone needed to put their hands on my leg....

Also... no we don't know JM, nor do we know anything about JMs specialty parts (Clarence asked).
Just like we did in this shot (from the Nike Women's 1/2 LAST October) ... I have no idea how she remembers these things..
As you might guess, the last 25 miles were the toughest. Although to be honest, it was really the last 10 that were the worst. It was hot; I was tired (not so much physically, but mentally); AND because I was tired of PB&J or cookies or Powerbars or Sandwiches, I didn't eat anything at the 75 mile SAG, just some GU, I was HUNGRY! Betty pulled us up El Camino Real and out to the coast (2nd descent wasn't as fast as the first, but I think I got caught at a light...still I topped out at about 34mph); Seven did a masterful pull into the coastal headwinds (see below); then Mik pulled us along for awhile. I think she may have been frustrated (or hungry) because we kept asking her to slow down.
See how you can't see Seven in this shot...that's because Betty and Mik are in such a kick-ass pace line. 
I noticed along the way that Mik waved at all the trains. She's a kinder-teacher through and through. I love her!

With about 8 miles to go, it was my turn to pull. I do think this is where my "runners mentality" really helped because I just put my head down and pedaled as hard as I could. I felt how I usually feel in teh last mile of a half marathon, where I tell myself that it's only a mile, that I've run plenty of MILES, and that if I run really fast, I will be done SOONER, and then I can STOP.

Really. I was DONE! My legs at that point actually started burning (has NEVER happened to me on a ride before).

The BEST thing of all happened on the way back with about 2 miles to go, as we were headed back into Oceanside, there was an uphill left turn on PCH. I've made this left LOTS of times. Sometimes we get lucky and there's no oncoming traffic so that we don't have to stop on a hill; sometimes we don't. And it's tricky because we can't always see the oncoming traffic because it's a little rolling hill, so there's no way to really time it. 

We (and by we, I mean me, Mik, Seven, Betty, and a few other century riders who we'd been clumped with) crossed over to the left turn lane and as we neared the street where we needed to turn, a car appeared over the hill...which meant we HAD TO STOP...ON A HILL... AT 98.5 MILES... GAH!!!!!

But this guy is going to heaven because he actually STOPPED and let us go ahead! 

I screamed out I LOVE YOU!!! because at that moment, I did!

Within two miles, we were DONE!

Riders received one "free" photo. Here's my finishing photo. I almost missed the guy as I we neared the finish...also, do you think my seat should be higher? It looks like I'm squatting...hmmmmm. 
and DONE!
And we were done... 6:53 riding time. About 8:20 total time. One of the HUGE differences between a century and a marathon is the time. Riding takes just a heck of a lot longer!
Bike the coast had a lovely bike valet, and the race organizer, coordinator person met us at the finish line and literally almost walked us to the bike valet and made sure we knew where the food was, where the first aid was, where are medals were. I am hoping that they did this with ALL the riders and not just us because we looked as if we needed the extra help.

Truth is, we did. I think we walked around pretty aimlessly for about 20 minutes before we figured out where the food was (they gave us $5 in vouchers to use at a number of food truck/tent type places. I was thrilled to find a Tin Fish on the Oceanside Pier because they have THE BEST FISH TACO...or at least they do at their location that is next to PETCO (the ballpark where the Padres play in downtown San Diego, not the pet store...that's just wrong). 

Afterwards... We used an upsidedown trash can for a table and had some food and beverages  You'll have to take my word on the bevvies because Betty told me it was the new rule to not be photographed with bevvies any more.... we'll see....
Once we ate, we were fueled and ready for some laughs... This was Seven's first even with us, so she needed to experience a full Heffer Event.

It started with Betty, who convinced the race announcer that we had won the "Best Jersey Contest," which, until Betty decided we'd won, there wasn't one.
Here we are... winning our awards! 
We also had some fun, posing for photos in front of the Green Screen.
Since the green in our shirts matched the green screen, the photographer had some difficulty getting us to
"stand out."
Apparently, that wasn't silly enough...
Mik thought Betty would be doing the other side of a "heffer-bump" but Betty was having none of it.
A random "Heffer Fan" took this shot and sent it to Betty. People did seem to really like the Heffer jerseys. They definitely make a statement, about what I'm not sure, but a statement nonetheless.
Seven was feeling strong, and probably ready for another 100...right then and right there.
Fabulous... it sucks living here. I know. I know. 
All in all it was a great ride, and while I don't see myself doing a Century in the near future (sorry Seven...the weeks of training leading up to the Century just ate a bit too much into family time on weekends), I am glad I did it. Once again, we Heffers proved to ourselves that we can do anything we put our minds to, and (perhaps most importantly) have fun while we are at it!