Century 2, the Decision to Keep on moving, or not.
After 2 weeks “rest” (training really) I set out on Saturday for Century #2. After last years version with its unseasonably early hot dry temperatures, and uncharacteristic 15 mph headwinds that had Many not finishing the last 45 miles. This year had to be better.
The Forecast all week was for possibility of Rain. ( I cycle on Portland, do CX in Portland and I HATE rain) well the revised morning forecast was for a cool but mostly dry day.
Friday Morning before work I did a 90 min trainer ride with 2 decent 90 second openers. I am still not 110% convinced Al Painter is right, but since it hasn’t failed me yet I will continue the practice.
I had met a riding partner on a church web forum and we decided to meet up and team up for easier riding. The meet up was confirmed at 9 pm the night before. After putting the kids to bed and getting everything all set, I got to watch parts of Race across the Sky, but not enough, maybe.
Up Saturday at 5:30 for 7:30 meet up. Weigh in at 180.4 lbs. Ate a waffle with Strawberries, syrup and 2 cups of strong coffee. Had a half hour to kill read som emails, sent a text to my meet up partner, then went up for a shower. Then suit up. As it was 60 degrees heading to 65, I embrocated with some DZ nuts Medium. (apparently a thick layer I would find out later) Decided to wear a thin Jersey with a Long Sleeve Jersey over, and took a rain jacket just in case, but the roads are dry at this early hour.
Bike on the rack and off I go, 5 minutes drive to the start. Meet up my partner after texting him my photo. Sign in make final adjustments and we are off.
The ride is 2 loops, first 55 then 45 in the afternoon. Rolling out everything is great, starting about 18-19 mph feeling pretty good. Leave town and no real action for the first mostly false flat 14 miles for the first break Water only, Passing all the groups we come to. Feeling pretty good, chatting and Steve (the partner) states that he had Quad Bypass surgery, and that this would be a test of sorts to see where his fitness is at. Ah OK. Make a couple awkward I don’t do CPR and there is no Cell service where we are going jokes and all is good. Surgery was 7 years ago and he has been riding in this time. Im feeling ok about it, not too worried, he is a thinish guy, says he climbs well and just tries to keep his HR below 170.
We leave the water stop for the big climb about 3 miles of 3% then 4 miles of 6-9 percent. Steve and I are passing the riders one by one, the ride starts to climb so I go from the big to the small ring, and fast spin wait, chain is off on the inside. The clever rider I had just passed yells out “SCHLECK”… I laugh, as he passes and follows Steve. I fix the chain and am on my way in quick order. He was NOT Contador as I quickly passed him again and caught up to Steve. I am no SCHLECK as I put the chain on myself, and did not wait for the team car.
As the road steepens to some 8% grades, last year I was daunted, and begging for mercy, this year I felt pretty good as we push up the pitches. About a mile left Steve cant keep up and I keep pace knowing the rest stop is ahead. Felt pretty good all the way up, steady all the way up. Pull into the rest stop. And Steve pulls in about 2 minutes later. He seems a bit impressed. I told him no one passed us up the hill, and he agreed. We relax for 10 to 15 minutes, eat, drink and use the Rest room.
We climbed 900 feet in that 6 miles, and there is 350 more till the descent. I tell Steve we have 350 more feet of climbing and he thought horizontal, and was confused by the next 2 miles continuing to 1580 feet. I waited 20 seconds at the peak and off we go on a 15 minute descent, with a few STEEP bumps to break it up. Once at the bottom about 15 miles to the next stop. Good news No Wind. As a group of 2 and with me knowing the route and Steve feeling out his fitness, I did the lions share of the work. But that’s how I usually ride solo. Hit the rest stop for a quick snack water and back out for the last 15 miles of flats and rollers back to lunch.
Lunch was put on by Master Chef Chris King. YES that Chris King. He and his team put together an Excellent Fajita lunch. He is a good enough foodie that he has his own “Gourmet Century”. We hung out 45 minutes or so and then decided to head out. This century is tough because Lunch at the “mid point” is also the start/finish point, so many just end it there, but we head out. I was feeling pretty tired but felt ok. Its 22.5 miles to the next rest stop. One curious thing is the route is changed from last year, some for the good some for the not so good.
We got in a group moving pretty fast, and interestingly this group of guys as we get to a hill just blows apart, kind of interesting, as the all seemed equal on the flat. I was actually moving up pretty good, and then decided to go to the small ring to finish the climb, and then, SCHLECK, nope no-one said it, it was in my head this time. I pulled off and as I am resetting the chain I watch the fast train escape up the hill. I get moving again and am in pursuit mode. It was kind of fun like watching it on the tele. Steve get stuck behind another small group that I mistook for the faster guys, and as I caught Steve realized that We would not likely catch that group. So we settled back to our pace. A West wind had developed due to some sun breaks, and it was increasing, and we were headed into it, at mile 12 is a store I frequent so I stop for a restroom break, Steve does as well. Then a steep hill I frequent, and some rollers, then the course changes some more. The wind is becoming strong like a beast, 10+ mph. I am starting to develop a pain in my left knee. In the back on the interior behind the upper leg. (not sure the name of this ligament or tendon, it’s the one that lifts the lower leg) we continue on and the pain increases, Steve takes some pulls to block the wind, but this only provides very little relief.
Se come to a cross roads, literally, and the route goes right, but the return route turns left. Which would cut about 6 miles off the total. The sign says 2 miles to the rest stop. I decide to go toward the rest stop. I speak to the SAG man, and take some time to think, snack, and stretch the knee. The only thing in favor of continuing is we can ride the wind back for most of the 22 miles back. I realize that I have only been drinking water, out of convenience, not the NUNN as I did so well with 2 weeks Prior, I drink a full bottle of Gatorade and actually feel a bit better. The stretching is helped a bit. I decide to send the sag wagon on his rounds without me as a client, although I know they will be around again if needed. I decide we can go, take it easy and stop at the halfway point for a “rest”.
The last 22.5 miles is not too bad. The wind at the back was a big relief of tension on the knee and the pain worked out quite a bit, although a couple of turns into the wind put it right back where it was. At one point the pain went away completely, and a cramp developed in the opposite upper calf muscle. Then a half mile later back to the original issue. Nursing it up the final rollers, and a easier wind driven pace, got us to the end.
The goal for this ride was to beat 6 hours. Last year was 6:13. This year we rolled into the parking lot at 5:45, 28 minutes better than last year and 15 minutes better than I had hoped to do. This was in essence done with a tough wind, and an injury thru 30 miles. Also not a lot of drafting. I feel pretty good about the results, and I am glad that I finished with out the SAG.
My knee was ok on Sunday, went to church, vacuumed the house, mopped the floors, mowed the lawns, then took the boy to the batting cage and hit 50 balls. So I cant say I was crippled by continuing the ride. I have mild pain lifting that leg, but it is less today. I passed on a recover ride this AM, but plan to do a short easy one tomorrow.
My thought was to take a break from the training for a week or two, then ramp up again for 3-4 weeks before my next event in mid July. This “injury” confirms that this is likely a good Idea.
I really think that not using the NUNN at each rest stop may have caused a bit of a cramp to develop into the strain that I encountered. Im not a physiologist but that just a hunch.
Good Century, and I am glad I did not give up, But I was willing to at any time after mile 70 if the pain had become a bigger issue.