On Saturday I rode in my first Century, a 100 mile bike ride through the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The idea to do a Century started early this past summer as two of my friends and I were looking to put our road bikes to use while getting in shape. During the summer, my training consisted mainly of riding my bike to and from my work at the Visitors Center, while on weekends we went for our long rides, eventually culminating with a 70 mile ride this past Labor Day.
All of this training was not without incident though. Tropical Storm Irene wrecked havoc on the White Mountains, collapsing bridges and destroying roads. Two of the roads we were supposed to ride on, the Kancamancus Highway and Route 302, have been closed indefinitely while repairs are made. Additionally, the day after the storm, I crashed my bike on a slick corner during a training ride. Luckily I escaped with only a flat tire, some road rash, a sore shoulder, and a bruised ego. With only two weeks to go until the Century, both the organizers and myself had some recovering to do to make the ride happen.
The route was reworked, my wounds healed, and the ride was on! After a 5:30am breakfast at the only diner open that early, we were on our bikes before 7:15 am. The next seven hours were spent on the ride, five and a half of which actually on the bike (this was a supported race which means it included four rest stations to refill water and refuel with food, thus accounting for the extra time). The ride consisted of three big climbs, Bear Notch, Pinkham Notch, and Evan’s Notch, all of which on paper seemed very daunting. While my training paid off and played a huge part in my ride, what was most striking to me about cycling, and what was exemplified during my ride, is how much of a team sport cycling actually is.
I never would have been able to ride at the pace which I did had I not had the support of other riders. Those riders were not only my friends but also others we met while riding, like an administrator from the University of New Hampshire or an ego-driven business man trying to kick it with the kids. The support, both the physical rest when drafting as well as the encouraging words, is really what got me through the 100 miles that I trained for for so long. Now have my sights on the Hartford Half Marathon coming up in just over a month and will pencil in my next Century!