Monday, April 16, 2007

A Clean Century

Clean centuries don't allow for much picture taking but I snapped this shot of the distant long lake dam as I stopped to stash my sweater and leg warmers.

Last week I felt great and had some good rides that were not long but were high efforts with some good climbing. I still haven't fixed the broken tooth on my mtn bike so a long road ride was in order. I had to be back in the afternoon to pick up my daughter at choir practice. I had thought about taking on the 150 mile route I recently mapped out, but even if I left early enough to get the mileage in there would be no way to shortcut the route if things started going wrong. And to make matters worse most of that route is outside of cell coverage.
What I settled on was doing a clean century ride. By clean I mean that I wanted to do 100 mile of somewhat hilly terrain at a good pace with very little stopping. I packed two large water bottles and a 100 oz. platypus with powerade, four Bumble Bars, an almond butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, some gummi bears and a valrhona Manjari chocolate bar.
The ride was off to a fast start with a good tailwind. Actually the tailwind was somewhat of a curse because I am still riding with 39x17 because the 17t freewheel I have on my Paul hub is not threaded on but mashed on the now mangled threads. If I want to move up to a gear more suitable for this time of year I will have to get a new wheel. Since I am trying to divert all of my bike money into the new bike I was forced to spin some high cadence for 3 hours. The fast spinning really starts to cook the legs after awhile despite the apparent ease at which the pedals were clicking over.
For some reason I thought that a bumble bar every hour was going to be enough calories for the first half of the ride. At Springdale I ate my banana and sandwich. I layer the almond butter on thick so that the sandwich weighs in at around 500 calories. Once I started heading back into the wind I found that I was able to keep a solid pace and forged ahead. At around 4 hours I started experiencing the subtle symptoms of bonking. This wasn't a full on system crash. I was still chugging along at a high pace, the legs were doing there thing unchanged but mentally I began to wonder about whether the muscles were going to hold up. I began worrying that the discomfort in my knee was going to turn into a chronic disorder that would derail all of my future plans. I began to notice that distant road signs took a long time to reach me, my mind wondered around in a negative world of self pity.
It is only because I have been through this many times that I realized that I needed calories. My body never said "I'm hungry" the bonk manifested itself in a decidedly mental train wreck. I stopped off at a grocery store in Deer Park and ate a slice of pizza, drank a cup of coffee and finished off the gummi bears and chocolate.
By the time I got back on the road I was singing out loud and bunny hopping over shredded tires on the highway shoulder.
As for doing a clean century, my 16.7 mpg average is as good as it gets for the hills, the three hours of headwind at the end and my choice of gearing. After a shower and a pound of beef jerky I feel fully recovered. Clean enough. The true test will come tomorrow morning when I try and do some fast, hill climbing.
Here is my route: Springdale Century

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