The Plan: I had 2 x 8 oz bottles of First Endurance Liquid Shot (about 4 hrs per bottle) in my jersey and a handfull of SunRype fruit strips for nutrition. For water I had my 40 oz Speed Fill and I'd fill that up at aid stations. I'd stop at every aid station and about every hour. And I'd ride the 100 miles.
Starting out, things weren't so bad. We were going uphill, but I could manage in my 2nd ring. Five miles in, I wasn't dying. Hooray! An hour in and I was ok still. Then there was a HUGE steep hill that didn't seem to ever end (see mile 10, above). I saw 2.8 mph on my garmin and I was going so slow that it would auto-pause on me, thinking I had stopped. Awesome! There were moments where I considered walking, but I figured that each pedal stroke was taking me a greater distance than a step would. So I kept pedalling. FINALLY (two hours later) we reached Nederland. 3,000 ft climbed in 15 miles. Hooray! Ward is only another 1,000 ft and I have 15 miles to do so.
Insert ironic laugh, as I was about to get my ass handed to me.
We had a really fun descend. I really enjoyed that, but it also scared the crap out of me because what goes down must go up. Crap. Then I saw a sign indicating that I had a Cat 2* climb coming up. Crap again. Its ok, I managed to stay on my bike in Boulder Canyon. I can do this.
It turns out, asthma + 8,000 ft elevation is not a good equation. My legs felt ok. My lungs were gone. And weirdly, my lower back was REALLY sore. Things weren't fun anymore and my lungs were hurting. So I got off and walked the steep parts. I think I walked 3 or 4 times, usually spotting a tree or a rock just below the crest, which would be my re-mounting point. Each time I walked, I'd take a hit off my inhaler. It didn't work as 5 minutes later, I couldn't breathe. That hill just wouldn't end. There were points where it would level off and I'd go around a curve and see another hill. Most of the time these later hills weren't bad, but I was almost crying at the thought of going up any more hills. And I'd only ridden 22 miles. In a century ride. If I had seen a SAG vehicle on any of these hills, I would have asked for a ride to the next aid station. I only saw SAG vehicles on the flats or slight descents, where I was on my bike and too proud to ask for a ride. From past experience, I know that crying is usually a lack of nutrition. I wasn't eating or drinking much because I was working so damn hard. Once I realized that, I took a good hard swig of my nutrition to get some calories down.
FINALLY somewhere around mile 25 or 26, the hills ended and we had flats and a gradual downhill. I knew Ward was around mile 28, where the aid station was, so I sucked it up. I also made a deal with myself: Ride the descent down St Vrain Canyon (30 miles) and see if I feel any better. I got the the aid station and they were starting to tear it down. Awesome. My friend had been waiting 20 minutes for me. Even more awesome. Fortunately, she had some Advil and I took 2 for my back. I told her about my plan to see how I was at the next aid station (Hygiene, at mile 60) and she was ok with it.
Then the fun began. Yay - downhill! Unfortantely, while we were on Peak to Peak Highway, there were some downhills and some uphills. Down was fun. Up was not. I was done with going up. Also, Peak to Peak turned into chipseal north of Ward. Sucky. I just wanted to fly. Once we got on St Vrain Ave, the chipseal turned into smooooooth pavement and there were no more uphills. Just really fun downhills and sweeping turns. I don't think I hit my brakes once on that road.
We made it to Lyons and the heat started to hit me and I knew I was back on flat land. Pedalling was actually going well on the flats. I was holding 18-20 mph. I had also ran out of water at about mile 50. Dumb. I remember actually looking at my water bottle, thinking hmm, there's about an hour left of water in there. I have 30 miles. I can do that in one hour. Yet another sign that I wasn't thinking clearly. Somehow I trusted myself with 30 miles of fast descending. Dumb. So I was dry but I knew the road and I knew I had minutes to get to Hygiene. So I just kept pedalling.
It was getting hotter and things were starting to get uncomfortable. Saddle was ok-ish. Hands were starting to go numb. And my feet weren't super happy. And I was starting to get crabby. I knew the rest of the ride was flat-ish. But I also knew it wasn't shaded. I evaluated myself and my goals, and decided that things would cease to be happy if I continued on. I had nothing to prove and why torture myself for another 40 miles. SAG it was.
I made it to the mile 60 aid station and I was only about a minute behind my friend. They had cheese pizza there. I normally don't like cheese pizza. But this was the BEST cheese pizza EVER. I told my friend that I was SAGging it, but she understood. And then I ate more pizza. And red licorice. mmmmm!
Getting a ride back to the race start/finish was super easy. I had 3 drivers, all volunteering to take me back. And on the way, I learned that my cousin was at the start/finish waiting for his girlfriend to finish. That meant I had company for the 2+ hrs until my friend finished. Hooray! We hung out. I drank beer, ate ice cream, ate pasta. Good times. The reports from my friends who did the full 100 miles told me that I made the right decision. It was hot out there. I would not have been a happy camper.
- I need to be better about my nutrition, even when working hard. When I got to mile 60 (5 miles riding time), I had only had 1/4 of my total nutrition. That's equivalent to 2 hrs worth. No shit I felt like crap. I can't be doing that.
- I am questioning if I can do rides at altitude because I had SUCH a hard time breathing. I don't know if this is an acclimation thing or if my lungs are defective. My legs were ok (back was not, but it was tolerable). I had to walk because I couldn't breathe. Not cool.
- At each aid station, I need to evaluate hydration and nutrition. Even when its early in the ride. Running out of water was unacceptable.
- Good call SAGging it back after 60 miles. I feel a bit beat up today but mostly ok. I'm pretty sure I'd be in worse shape today if I did the whole thing.
Overall, the ride was VERY well organized. Even though I didn't do the full 100 miles, I felt like I got my money's worth. Maybe I'll think about doing this again next year, but only if I feel ready. No more doing this on a whim.
* I thought a Cat 2 climb was the 2nd easiest climb. I reasearched it this morning. Turns out its the 2nd HARDEST climb. No wonder that killed me!