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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Feel free to shake your head in pity, or contempt...

Well, spring is here enough to have some organized events, and the Sprint into Spring event was last Sunday here in Raleigh. There were 43 mile, 62 mile, and 100 mile routes. I started riding last August, and I've tried to work up my distance, and have done a metric century solo, and you hear so much about how much less effort a group ride is...I decide I'll do the century! I've only ridden on lines twice, once with a couple of guys over the winter for about 10 miles, and once with a guy for about 15 miles. This was my first organized ride, and first opportunity to try riding a real line, so I was pretty stoked.

I got there about 8:30 for a 9:00 start, everybody was warming up, getting prepped. I carried my paperwork over, talked politely with the lady taking the checks, said how it's my first ride and all...I overhear someone say "They're lining up", but I figure it's the racer types, there's plenty of time. I'm still making small talk, and someone says "He's explaining the rules"...I figure it's safety and common sense stuff...after all, it's not a race. Then, a whistle blows, and a herd of bicyclists are off!!! I'm so excited to be at my first organized ride, I totally lose track of time and miss the start! LESSON 1: be ready at the start, for the start.

I throw the cue sheet in my back pocket and head out of the park. I pass about five people by the time we're at the first stop sign, heading from the park onto the road. We ride about a mile, and there's a tee intersection. I'm still in sight of about a dozen riders, so I'll be able to get back with a group, no problem. Some of the riders go left, some go right...oh, bleep! Which way do I need to go? I stop, take out my cue sheet, figure it out, I'm looking at the street sign, figure out what I need to do...a-ha! Take a right! I look up from the sheet, and there's not a bicyclist in sight! LESSON 2: have at least a clue about your cue sheet.

That's ok, I'll catch up with the stragglers. I get to a road turning left...hmm, straight or left? LESSON 3: read more than one line down on your cue sheet.

I turn left, then I notice this strange white circle with an arrow on the pavement...wait a minute, I've heard of this. LESSON 4: listen to the rules at the beginning of the race, you will probably be told what the route markings are.

I get about five miles up the road, and see the one bad event of the day. I have proof I'm on the right route, as the EMS people are helping a bicyclist laying in the road. There are about four, five other cyclists around him, so I stop to help. I find out a couple got tangled due to a pothole, and that caused a few more to pile on. I stayed to direct traffic until the ambulance came. Although there was fear of broken or cracked ribs, he's alright...just road rash. A couple of bikes got scuffed, a rim got hosed, and another guy had a bloody hand. Not good, but not as bad as it could've been. The rest of the group ride back or catch the sag wagon.

I'm now about 45-50 minutes off the group, but, hey, I'll still enjoy the ride. I head on, having an idea of how to work a cue sheet, recognizing the route markings, and I'm good. I make the first rest stop, and there's one rider there. He's bailing as he's had his third flat in 26 miles. Sometime between 1 and 2 o'clock, cloud cover develops, it gets down into the 40s, and a stinkin' cold wind starts blowing. I'm pedalling like a dog, but, still riding.

Finally, at about mile 60, Adrian in the sag wagon brings me bananas and water. I have a banana and a top off, thank him, we talk a few minutes, and I'm off! I had thought about folding, but he's so cool about bringing me sustenance, I decide I'll tough it out.

I get to the next rest stop, in mile 78, and I'm dying. I'm in the lowest gear (with a triple), and that's on flat road...I'm pathetically not able to do this. I realize I might could crawl on in, but it'll be after dark by the time I roll in...there's tough, then there's stupid.

The rest crew cheer as I roll in, WAY after everyone else has. I thank them for their support and give them a stoic "Gasp...wheeze...I'm about dead, I'm out!" LESSON 5: know your limits.

I caught a ride in, enjoyed a tofu burger with just the volunteers, since everyone else was long gone, helped clean up, and headed home.

First century? Not yet. As I told Adrian, "I'll get there. It just won't be today."

Here are a few pictures...
http://usera.imagecave.com/38Chevy/bike01/

Steve
 

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Lot's of people don't make the finish line on the first century attempt. Don't get discouraged, just enjoy your cycling and set realistic goals.

If you had made the group start you might have made the entire route, but you still would have been wasted.
 

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Bacon!
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No biggy. My suggestions such as they are. Get at least one friend to ride with you who is at the same level and won't leave you behind or drag you down. I usually ride with just my wife and just having another human being around helps the moral tremendously. Plus, if something happens there's someone else there to talk to while you fix it or whatever. It sounds like you didn't eat enough at the rest stops. Eat lots but not to the point you get sick. Learn your food limits by eating on normal rides and make sure to drink plenty of fluids. I think 75% of a century is mental, but a good percentage of the remaining is food for energy and fluids to keep the body running. You might want to bring some GU gel or something.

Other than that, 80 miles is no small feat. You did well overall. I dropped out of the first couple I tried mainly due to soreness and not knowing exactly how to pace it out.
 

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Yes, you did very well and learned a great deal of lessons it appears. In most areas of the country, it's very early to be thinking about centuries. It's barely April! Get some miles in and try again in June or July.
 

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Downhill Juggernaut
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Amen! Heat over wind any day of the week! Well, only if I'm early enough to finish before it gets too bad.

Did a half century last weekend with a budding young first-timer (who can climb hills so well I wanted to throw a pump in his spokes just to slow him down) and the wind was terrible.
 
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