Monday, July 19, 2010

Katy Flatlands Century Ride

Yesterday was my first ever century ride.  This became a goal of mine last year, where I rode the 55 mile distance at Flatlands.  This distance, at the time was my longest to date - I think I had one or two 40 mile rides before I did this one.  The ride was hot, but manageable, and I made it a goal to ride the 100 mile route in 2010.

This year I've ridden 50+ miles several times this year for HIM training.  My longest ride was in May, a 63 mile ride in Chappell Hill (4 hrs).  I've been taking a break after Boise, only riding my bike twice in the past 2 weeks.  The first ride was supposed to be a 60 mile in Chappell Hill, but ended early with 2 flat tires by mile 18.  The second ride was a 50 mile ride during a club training ride.  I was able to hold a good mph on that ride and wasn't sore, so I decided that doing the 100 route at KfC was possible and not a terrible idea.  Besides, I need to do several more century rides for IMTX, so better to start early.

I have to carry 100% of my nutrition with me, so this was a great time to practice for IMTX.  I have a 28 oz profile aero bottle, a 40 oz speedfill, and a cage for a regular bike bottle - enough for 4 hrs regular strength Infinit.  For this ride, I decided to mix the aero and speedfill at regular strength (3 hrs) and to concentrate 4 hrs worth on Infinit into a standard bike bottle.  The concentrated mix was fairly thick but it was still fluid enough to pour into the speedfill at water stations.  After I drank the aero bottle, I kept that as "water only" (sometimes I just want plain water after a few hours).   The aero bottle also served as a container to refill with water to dump into the speedfill, since it wasn't practical to haul my bike over to the water station to fill the bottle attached to my frame.  I labeled the concentrated bottle into quarters and dumped half the bottle into my speedfill (roughly a 2 hr mix) at the appropriately times rest stations.  I topped it off with fresh water and assumed it would mix.  I assumed wrong - the first hour was pretty concentrated.  I needed to do a better job mixing things as the concentrated mix just sank to the bottom.  The result was that it was VERY strong and I didn't want to drink it.  I forced myself though, because I knew I'd need the calories.  At the second fill-up I did a better job mixing by blowing bubbles through the straw to mix it from the bottom up.

I supplemented my Infinit with Hammer Gels.  I like Hammer for 2 reasons:  they're a Montana company and I love to support Montana and they have the smallest amt of straight sugar in their gels.  I'm sugar sensitive, so its nice knowing there are gels which won't send my blood sugar zooming.  I brought 5 gels and had 3.  One at hour 1, 2, and 4.  Towards the end of the ride I just wasn't feeling the gels.  I had good energy so I went by instincts and it worked out ok.

I was also a bit hungry at the 3 hr mark so I tried to eat a cookie.  Not a good idea - too sweet and the texture was all wrong.  I had a orange slice at subsequent rest stops which worked much better.

The Plan
There were a total of 8 rest stops for the century ride - distance between stops was between 8 - 14 miles.  I didn't want to be in "race mode" with minimal stops, but I didn't think it was necessary to stop at every rest stop.  The plan was to stop at #s 2, 4, 6, and 8.
The Ride
Even though I showed up earlier than last year, I understimated the time to get ready.  Packet pickup, bathroom stop, drink mix, airing tires, etc.  They didn't have announcements down in the parking area, and I knew that the ride started at 7 but couldn't hear if they were on time.  I looked at my watch and saw 7:05, so I rushed off, hoping to catch the tail end of the 100 mile group and that I didn't forget anything crutial.  Fortunately, there were quite a few on the century group waiting to ride and we all left within a few minutes of me arriving at the start.

The nice high clouds that were there on my drive over to the ride start  rapidly vanished when the sun came up.  This ride is typically hot, so its not like I didn't know better.

The first 21 miles was along the route I'd ridden the week before.  Good pavement and flat.  I hit RS#1 and was feeling fine and I wanted to try and catch up with the main group, so I stayed on-plan and went on through.  I stopped at RS#2 for a quick bathroom break and to fill my aero bottle with straight water.  On the way to RS#3 I picked up a couple of guys.  There was a long slight incline with a mild headwind, and they decided to pace off of me (aka let me do the work as they draft off of me).  We hit RS#3 and I convinced them to keep moving since the next RS was only 13 miles away.  I left the guys behind me, but somewhere around mile 40 they passed me in this huge pace line.  I've never ridden a pace line before but I decided to try and tag on to the tail of it and see what it was like.  I LOVE pacelines!  I had to be careful since I was riding aero but I could easily maintain 19 mph.  It was so much fun!  Then the road we were on (Hwy 39?)  got very crappy.  It was cobble chip-seal and most of the cobbles were missing.  I ended up riding right on the white line (the paint was the smoothest part of the shoulder) and even though there was plenty of room for cars, several trucks were total assholes, blowing by us close to the shoulder honking the whole time.  Lovely.  As we turned off of 39, a BNSF train was blowing across the intersection so we had to stop for ~5 minutes and wait for it to pass.  From there, we were pretty congested all the way to RS#4.

I felt really good at RS#4 (mile 49), except for the heat.  I was ok temperature-wise riding but when I stopped I just got really hot.  All my regular strength Infinit was gone so I refilled my speedfill with the concentrate, tried to eat a cookie (not a good idea), and hit the bathroom.  I was still keeping to my plan of skipping every other RS, so I skipped #5 (mile 62).  Once I got to mile 65, things got ugly.  I got really hot, my heart rate was 160+, I was pretty much riding by myself, and all my contact points (saddle, elbows, feet) were hurting.  I'd have to fidget every few miles, which made it a long 10 mile ride to RS#6.  Once I got there, I decided to take a long-ish break.  I got cold water, sat by the fan, dumped ice down my jersey, got fresh water for my bike.  At that rest stop, I met up with one of the guys I'd friended around RS#4.  He lost his buddy, so we decided to ride together to the next rest stop.  It was just too hot to stick to the every-other-RS plan.  So off we went.  For the first ~5 miles I zoomed off ahead, but just a I did on the previous leg, I got uncomfortable and fidgety.  The only nice thing is that the clouds were building and looked like we could get rain.  Stopped at RS#7. More resting, oranges, water, ice, hoping for rain.  We had 20 miles left but decided to stop at the next rest stop anyways.  Mentally, I couldn't process 20 miles but I could handle 12 and 8 mile segments.  About 5 minutes into our ride, the sky broke and we got ~10 minutes of torrential downpours.  Now that it wasn't hot, my HR went under 150 and I could cruise.  Plus, I was so busy focusing on the rain that the other things that were bothering me got ignored.  Twelve miles went by fairly fast and we were at the final rest stop.  Normally I would have felt ridiculous stopping with 8 miles left, but by that point I was just happy for the mental break.  I messaged Will to let him know I was alive, got some more water, and we were off.  The rain was pretty bad for this leg - nearly consistent downpour for all 8 miles.  There were times where you'd hear someone go "is it hailing? nope" because the rain hurt that bad.  It sucked, but it was still less sucky than riding in the heat.  We finally got back to the stadium and I was done.  101.2 miles on the Garmin.  I did bring my running shoes but with the rain, it was pretty ridiculous.  I have 10 months to practice long bricks.  No need to start today.

Closing thoughts
It became very obvious I need to spend a lot of time in the saddle.  Leg strength/endurance was good, nutrition was good.  But those dang contact points hurt so much.  No other way around it but time in the saddle.  Not sure what to do about the heat other than just continue to watch my HR and not push too hard when its hot.

I have my work cut out for me for IMTX.  Yowzers.

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