My First Century

100 Kilometers, Sun Burn and Riding with a Pro

When I left the house and got on my bike yesterday morning, I had no idea what the day had in store.  I was heading downtown to join up with the Barrie Cycling Club’s weekly touring ride.  When we discussed our route for the morning at the meeting location, it sounded like we were planning for somewhere between 70 and 80kms.  And I thought to myself: “Perfect, that is exactly what I was looking for in order to build towards a century in the next couple weeks.”

The chosen route took us to the west of Barrie, out towards Angus and Borden.  Since moving to Barrie, I had never ridden west of the city.  Mostly because that involves biking across the whole city first.  As always, I was excited to ride some new roads.  Variety is the spice of life.

Compared to my regular roads, these roads were much flatter.  Apart from a couple dips and some nice climbs, there wasn’t the same up and down pattern as the roads to the north east of town have.  I was quite happy about the respite from the hills of Oro-Medonte.

The ride took us right through “Tornado Alley” and you could still see the damage where a twister had touched down last summer.  Its path through the forest was still visible as it was lined with damaged and fallen trees.

One of the biggest highlights of the ride was that local pro Davide Frattini joined us for the first half of the ride.  Frattini races for the American Pro Continental squad United Health Care and was kind enough to grace us mortals with his presence on a lovely Sunday morning ride as he prepares for his next bloke of racing in Europe.  When watching the pros race on television, we elevate them to gods but when you meet them you realize they are real people to.  But again that illusion is shattered when you ride with them as I don’t think Davide broke a sweat.

It was great to talk with Davide during our turn on the front while I trying to not seem like a complete novice next to him.  It was also great to learn that other people are actually reading the things I write on this website.  Good luck in your next races, Davide, and I look forward to hopefully riding with you again.

A while after Davide left us and by the time I finally knew where we were once again, the odometer on my Garmin 510 was reading around 70km.  That’s when I finally realized that this wasn’t going to be a 3 hour, 70-80km ride.  This was going to be a 4 hour, 90-100km ride and unfortunately I was out of food and my bottles, which were full of Honey Maxx (review coming soon), were running low.  Was I going to be able to make it home before bonking?

It was around Innisfil that things started getting hard.  We had already surpassed my longest ride of the year and we were quickly closing in on my longest ride ever.  My legs were feeling heavy, cramp was creeping up in my calves, and my mind was growing tired.  I was running on empty now.  All I had keeping me going was pride and not wanting to get dropped by the rest of the group.  So I hung on. By the time we reentered Barrie, this Sunday morning ride had become my longest ride ever.  And by the time we returned to our starting point the odometer was reading 92km.  I just needed 8 more kilometers.

Once we split up, I dragged myself home.  Veering from the most direct path to wind through subdivisions in order to find those last couple of kilometers.  I was so close now, I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity.  I needed to see that “100” come up on my screen. It was probably the slowest 8 kilometers I have ever done but, after stopping to say hi to stray or lost dog, I made it.  I turned into the driveway, exhausted but proud.  A little ahead of schedule and unplanned, I had completed my first century.

And how did I reward myself? By going to a movie and eating too much popcorn and drinking too much pop.  But the more calories you burn, the more you can eat, right?

Apart from ravenous hunger and sore legs, another side effect of 4 hours in the saddle on a spectacularly sunny May morning is sun burn.  My cyclist tan is really coming along now.

On my short list of cycling accomplishments, I think completing a century takes the top spot.  It was hard and by the end I was exhausted but finally finishing came with a great feeling of satisfaction made even better by the fact that it was a great ride, on great roads, in great weather with great people.