Strawberry Century 2011

So what do you say after riding your bike for 101 miles and beating your goal by 12 minutes. I so wanted to go under 6 hrs but that blasted wind!
My strategy going into this event was to take it in 4.25 mile increments. I know that may sound crazy but let me explain. It all starts with my goal finishing time of 6:15 (which I exceeded) and also found out is a fairly fast first time Century time, yay me! So to hit 6:15 I would have to ride at least a 16 mph pace, but secretly I wanted a 6:00 hr pace and probably could of hit it if it wasn’t for that blasted wind! I my pace an broke in down into small chunks so that I could make adjustments during the ride, either slow down or speed up. I didn’t want to do mile chunks because that just makes the information coming from the Garmin useless – 101 laps (who wants to look through that mess). I also wanted to keep something that I was able to equate to an hour. I learned this trick during Marathon and Ultra races. Pick a lap that you can adjust and still know what your speed per hour is. So I picked 4.25 mile laps, basically if I could keep 4.25 miles on or around 15 minutes then I would be a winner. I specifically choose 4.25 because it actually equals 17 mph over an hour period which would give me the 6 hour century. I was 3 minutes off – and all because that blasted wind!
The ride itself was a slow starter which I kind of expected. I didn’t get out to the course until 8:30 and didn’t get started until 9
AM. I wanted to let some people get in the course in hopes to find a pace line or group to ride with. Well that didn’t happen, again the cycling commuting is totally different than the running community. I don’t understand the snobbery in cycling it is actually really frustrating. Also this is a much smaller ride than the last one. I was either going to slow or to fast, there was no one out there that wanted to ride at the pace I was. I did ride with a tandem for a while and that was fun, there were a jolly couple and I learned a lot about tandems.
  • The first 50 miles where rolling hills with a couple of good climbs. I felt good during this section and got through the 50 in 2:54 which is a PR for me for 50 miles. My legs did cramp up a bit at about 32 miles but I took a couple of salt tablets and it cleared up. I think I may switch back to EFS since it contains more salt and electrolytes than accelerate.
  • Miles 50 – 75 were the rodes that I am most familiar with and I hit them at about the same speeds that I normally do.  I knew that the race for me, as long as I hit my time goals of 15 minutes give or take a few seconds, would begin about mile 75. A little odd to think that a race will begin at mile 75.
  • Mile 75 is basically right before the town just south of Sweet Home called Brownseville and is the last section of rollers before the flats. I knew I had to conserve through here but also pick up the pace a bit. I had noticed the wind starting to pick up which also meant I needed to make up some time in this last section of rollers.
  • Miles 80 – 90 was the last rest stop and the point at which I was entering ‘No Idea Land’ as far as training goes. I had not logged a ride longer than 80 miles, ever, so I had no idea what was going to happen. The good new it was also the start to the flat section, but usually with flat sections come open and no protection from that blasted wind! Sure enough I got through the last climb after the rest area which is only about 100 feet and hit the flats and the blasted wind hit me. Now I don’t mind running in the wind, I don’t mind running or cycling in the rain but I hate cycling in the wind. It seems that even the slightest breeze has a huge impact. I would guess this was about a 10 – 15 mph from the north west and what do you know the next 10 miles we are heading nw. I tried to break through it for about 1.5 miles and just couldn’t hold up. So I changed my strategy. I knew that we were going NW for about 10 miles then turning due east for the remaining 10, which meant that I would have a partial tail wind for the last 10. I just hunkered down and pushed through the wall and it was a wall. I was frustrated and mad, escpeially when a guy on a tricked out Bianchi Tri bike passed me. I was only frustrated because he had aero bars and I didn’t.
  • Miles 90 – 101 I made it through the wind and got my legs back for the remaining 11. It was a glorious finish. My legs were a bit revived and when I turned the corner I saw a few riders staggered out in the distance ahead of me. I set a new goal. I am going to try and pick them off one by one, I think I counted about 6 and the closest was about 1/2 mile ahead and the last being more than a mile. Well needless to say I picked them all off and what do you know Mister Fancy Bianchi was one of those. That actually really felt good to be able to leave him in my dust especially after 98 miles of riding. I did hit 100 miles in just under 6 hours, maybe a few seconds but was not able to get the full 101 in under 6.
My finish was very strong actually the last 10 miles I averaged 18.5 mph, makes me think that maybe I could of pushed a little in the wind and possibly got under 6. Who knows 3 minutes is a long time. The overall ride was 6:03 hours at 16.7 mph. I am very satisfied with that time and pace especially for a first Century. Total elevation was 2400 ft and I have to say that Strawberry Shortcake with Ice Cream is a perfect post exercise recovery food.
In the end who ever said that riding a Century is equivalent to running a Marathon is crazy. Now I haven’t run a Marathon in over 10 years but my legs feel good after 101 miles where after a Marathon I was always pretty beat up. Actually have 10 miles of running scheduled for tomorrow. Will see how I feel after that.
Now it is time to stretch, drink a beer, eat some pizza and Cheetos.

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