View Full Version : My First Century - Long Report!

07-22-2007, 08:55 PM
This might be long so bare with me!

It was the Tour de Fest in Kimberly, Wisconsin. This is known as a very flat ride but the century loop was new. My sister lives nearby so I came up the night before.

First thing in the morning as I'm checking my gear I noticed my front tire is flat. I tried to put air in and the valve stem busted off. We get to the ride at 6:30 to register and the sponsoring bike shop is not present to help with the tire. I change it myself (ok, partially - a guy had to help me so I let him). That was my spare tube and now I'm without a tube. I take off at 7:30, a half hour later than I had hoped.

The ride was very poorly marked. The arrows were only 3 inches long and right at each intersection. Ten miles into the ride a FedEx truck rides past me and kicks up a piece of metal which embedded in my back tire. Flat number 2. Since I am tubeless I call the SAG number on the cue sheet. The course is so well marked they can't find me:p They call me 3 times asking where I am. Ironically, I'm still in the same spot and getting a bit ticked off:mad: . Finally 3 guys stop and give me one of their tubes and change it for me. Then the SAG vehicle shows up to see if I need help!:confused: So now I've lost another 20 minutes and I'm thinking maybe 70 miles is good enough. See, I've been reading the cue sheet and there's a stretch called 7 hills road on the 100 mile loop with a comment: SAVE YOUR ENERGY FOR THIS APPRORIATELY NAMED ROAD!. I'm thinking that can't be good.

I had some food with me and was thankful since I figured I'd skip the first rest stop. Good thing - I never saw it. Word had it it was a half mile off the course and a lot of people didn't see it. So my first rest stop is 28 miles into it. The weather was gorgeous but there were not many riders out. Come to find out only 190 people were riding that day and only about 53 were doing the century because of the hills. And the first 50 were from a local cycling club and they started at 6am - before the ride started! I didn't think that was very nice but hey, I'm still debating if I should ride 70 or 100. Now I know if I do the century I'll be doing it alone. Great.

At the cutoff for 70/100 my sister met me and was supposed to have a tube. No tube and I still haven't seen the SAG wagon since my flat (won't see them until 50 miles). I decided since I was out there alone already, what the heck. I'm still waiting for the people that SJCzar promised to send me to keep me company:p Little did I know they were right behind me.....

As I start on the loop leading to pain, 2 older guys catch up to me - one on a recumbent. We ride and chat and one is a gentleman I had met the week before on a ride. We determine we are the last 3 people on the century and we stay together for a bit. Then come the hills.....

The first few hills were big but doable. I tucked in behind recumbent guy Bruce with Bob behind me. They get me over the first couple then pull ahead. Here comes a hill that I had to do a double take on. You know when you see a hill coming and it looks tall and as you get closer it flattens out and you can break it down a bit? You couldn't on this hill. It was a 16% grade hill and we found out later it's called "The Wall". Well named. Now, I have never walked a hill (I've also never biked a mountain:p ), but I seriously thought about it halfway up. Then I remembered someone had posted CSC's black wrist bands that said "Toughen the F*** up!" That became my mantra!

I met the boys at the top to catch out breath and then they proceeded to stay well ahead of me but in eye sight. There were more than 7 miles of hills but that was the worst of it. Fifty miles into it is the next rest stop and my legs are toast! Only half way there and my mind starts putting the doubt in my head. I ate, prayed and hopped back on the bike.

The next 15 miles were the hardest. I was cursing the course directors at this point: for the poorly marked course, for the freakin' hills, for the bloody gravel roads they were making us ride, for my sore bum, legs and the blasted wind that had picked up. When I looked up on yet another gravel road and saw another hill I almost cried. Toughen the F*** up! The Lord answered my prayers and I turned before the hill. I started to sing to myself. I started with "100bottles of beer on the wall". I got down to 96 bottles of beer and said screw it:rolleyes: So I pretended I was riding in an ironman (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!), I tried humming, I thought of my little guy, I said hi to the cows and horses, etc. Whatever I could do to get the negative thoughts out of my head. My mph had dropped down to 10-13 in the headwind. At one point 2 farm dogs came charging down barking at me and I told them that if they wanted a piece of me they could have it - I couldn't pedal any faster! At 70 miles I hit a rest stop and rang my bell - 65 miles had been my previous PB. Every mile I rode was now a personal best, and the volunteers, Bob and Bruce cheered me in!

They knew I was a bit frustrated so the SAG guy hung around and kept asking me if I wanted to ride in. He wasn't helping:eek: I came out to ride a century and I wasn't leaving until I did it! I did have him give me a tube so I had one with me though. I ate enough to give me a second wind and got into a groove coming out of this stop. I finally picked up speed but still couldn't catch up to the guys. They were riding slower so I could see them but I would have preferred they rode with me in a group to help with wind and speed. Oh well, at least I wasn't alone. Bob finally took off because he had to get home but Bruce hung back but stayed ahead of me. My sister met me at the last rest stop to give me an atta girl and I had a quick bite and headed out - I wanted to be done. I ended up passing Bruce because he had to tinkle in the corn fields and then he took a wrong turn. I was now in that zone of "I could keep going till I fell off the bike". My legs had felt pretty good since about mile 75 and the hills now were more inclines. There was one last steep short one right after - you guessed it - a gravel patch, but it wasn't bad anymore. There was no way a hill was gonna stop me now!

Marguerite wasn't shifting so well anymore from all the gravel roads so she is in need of a cleaning and relube. I finished at 3:40pm - 40 minutes after I wanted to but the 2 flats caused that. Total time on the bike was 6 hours and 38 minutes and the course was only 97 miles. You can bet I rode around the block until my computer read 100! Total elevation was 3,888 feet with most of it in a 10 mile stretch. My average was 14.6 which I was pleasantly surprised with (I usually average around 15). It was 55 degrees when I started and 80 degrees when I finished. I found the mental challange more of an issue and an accomplishment for me - now I know what I'm capable of doing and I don't think I will second guess myself so much anymore. And I'm not very sore either - my bum is a bit sore but I expected my legs to hurt more. This is one month earlier than I had planned to do a century (Sue talked me into it because she thought it would be flat). Here's a before picture with my sister and an after picture - thanks for reading!

07-23-2007, 06:27 AM
Great report. Sounds like a tough first century both in the route and the organization.


07-23-2007, 06:58 AM

07-23-2007, 07:57 AM
i had hoped you'd write a report. what a story! what's with all the gravel roads? Don't they pave in your state?
congrats on all the hills too. Do you know the total altitude gain for the ride?

Thanks for talking about the demons in your head; that's a big problem of mine as well.

CONGRATS; a century is a big achievement, and your time was EXCELLENT!

07-23-2007, 08:04 AM
Great job on your 1st century and not getting lost with the poor markings. Your officially a tuffy now.

07-23-2007, 09:59 AM
Mimi, it was 3,888 with most of it in a 10 mile stretch. I knew the demons would come cuz I've heard other talks about it. That's why I wanted my first one to be an organized ride so I had someone to talk to. Oh well, I'm used to talking to myself:p

07-23-2007, 10:01 AM
that would have been disappointing for me too; to ride an empty course, expecting riding companions.

Having said that; it's really hard to find casual acquaintances that ride the same speed you do. Don't you have a bike club or something that you could ride with?

07-23-2007, 10:28 AM
Well done! Sounds like a great day on the bike.

short cut sally
07-23-2007, 10:37 AM
what a great story, and the time was super..congrats to you..and to do that with minimal support you deserve to be up on a podium. :D .

07-23-2007, 12:30 PM
Great job and good for you for persevering through less-than-ideal conditions. You did aweseom, but it's too bad the ride wasn't better organized. I hope they gave you an opportunity for some feedback. I'd tell them a thing or two!

07-23-2007, 12:40 PM
Yiiippppeeeeee Dar,

You overcame a ton of hurdles!! Well done and great report.:D :D

07-23-2007, 03:42 PM
Great job! There will come another century that is well marked, well supported, and takes place on all paved roads! After this as your first one, you will feel like an old pro with a piece of cake! Congrats...you overcame!

07-25-2007, 09:55 AM
I'm feeling a bit guilty about this whole thing ... since I was the one to say what a great, well-supported, and FLAT ride the PaperFest is. This was the first year they added in the extra mileage to make it a century. What were the chances that the add-on would be the most killer hills they could find in that area?

I guess the leadership of the ride was turned over to someone else for this year's event....really bad mistake.

At least you can always keep in mind that any century after that one will be a piece of cake.

I'll make it up to you with some margarita therapy after the next ride we do together.

07-25-2007, 10:11 AM
Don't feel bad Sue - other than the hilly stretch is was pretty flat:p

Besides, it didn't discourage me from riding another one. Kinda like having a baby - I've forgotten the pain already and just have fond memories:D

07-25-2007, 01:03 PM
Dar! I'm so danged excited for you! I remember when you were dreaming of "someday" being able to ride a century!!! and look at you now... you're an endurance athlete! WOOT!:D

your report was awesome... I had to laugh at the dogs... I have SO mentally been there... I also have to chuckle that they had a climb called The Wall... every good ride has a climb called The Wall... just so ya know...

except STP... they had a climb called "The Hill" :D THAT was my kind of climb :p

I'm way proud of you... hope you kept your number and get a pic framed! that's a huge accomplisment lady...:)

07-25-2007, 09:35 PM
BC - thanks for the kind words. I feel like there's nothing I can't do now, so watch out;) And yes, I will be framing a picture from the momentus day!

07-26-2007, 01:36 PM
Some day I will ride one and I will think of yours!

07-26-2007, 04:25 PM
That is beyond accomplishment,you definitely earned your bragging rights.
I know I would have walked a 16 percenter.

It might be helpful to some future rider if you made some suggestions to the organizers about the route markings and rest stop location.
Phil, the guy who organized and marked my yearly ride, is really good at marking the route. He also takes the opportunity to spray encouraging words and the occasional "chicks dig phil" :D

07-26-2007, 05:21 PM
That is beyond accomplishment,you definitely earned your bragging rights.
I know I would have walked a 16 percenter.

It might be helpful to some future rider if you made some suggestions to the organizers about the route markings and rest stop location.
Phil, the guy who organized and marked my yearly ride, is really good at marking the route. He also takes the opportunity to spray encouraging words and the occasional "chicks dig phil" :D

Zen, we did make suggestions to the organizers on the markings. Like Sue said, it was handed off to others this year and I'm hoping they make the necessary changes for next year.

There was one encouraging phrase on the hills "you can do it!". They needed a few more:p

Tri Girl
07-28-2007, 05:59 PM
Wow- I'm super impressed!!!! Wow!!!!
You definitely have serious bragging rights. Congratulations on an amazing (and amazingly difficult) century! Way to go!!! :D

Trekn Teresa
07-31-2007, 03:15 PM

Fantastic ride report, I enjoyed it.
It sure is a great feeling to complete a century isn't it?
Wonderful determination girl! Be proud of yourself.
~ Trekn Teresa ~

08-01-2007, 03:27 PM
B I G C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S to you, mtbdarby!!! You did a fantastic job hanging in there. I don't think I could have even made it under 7 hours with 2 flats.

I got tickled reading about the nature break in the corn field. Course if I tried that, something would bite me on my bum. :eek:

I can't wait to try a century. I'm hoping I'll be up to it in October. Thanks for posting your story. You serve as an inspiration for first timers and veterans alike. :) :)

08-02-2007, 07:19 AM
Great story. Congratulations on finishing your first century!

Hope I can do one this fall...

08-02-2007, 08:47 PM
Wow! I finally got around to reading this and am thoroughly impressed. I love you likening it to having a baby. Not that I have had a baby but I am have had the same feeling about a previous suffer fest of a ride. You have true grit, I would say you definitely lived up to the CSC mantra!!