A summer of hard bicycle training finally paid off! I had done several metric century (65 mile) rides over the past decade, but both of my previous full century attempts had been thwarted. Two years ago, I overtrained and developed a tendon problem behind the knee that could have resulted in serious/permanent damage if I had pressed on. Then the next year, an illness in the family resulted in a logistical problem that forced me to do yet another metric.
This year, I wasn’t going to be stopped. Started serious training in the spring, ramping up slowly from 25 miles to 40, then 65, then a couple of 75 mile days toward the end of summer. Also focused on elevation, tackling both Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo in August and September.
Started to learn more about the importance of sodium and electrolyte replacement too, trying half of the ride supplement packets on the market. And I introduced a weekly time trial into the mix, doing exactly the same 8-mile, 1000-ft sprint after work twice a week.
The Lighthouse Century takes off from Morro Bay (where I grew up!), heads up the coast, then inland up the grueling Hwy 46, and back down to re-join Hwy 1. Then finally North almost to Piedras Blancas and back down to MB.
Just after registering, put out a call on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to ride with me, and got two takers. One was an old friend from high school whom I literally had not hung out with in 35 years. The other was an incredible guy who had gone through a double lung transplant eight years ago, and was using the event to celebrate the anniversary of his new body.
It was an incredible honor to be able to ride with him – he made me feel like I had no right to complain about any of the aches or pains. Incredible!
I grew up in Morro Bay, and this ride was a bit of a homecoming, leaving from the parking lot of my alma mater. A bit sad to see how the school has decayed over the years, but felt great to be back. The day was gorgeous, and we were able to avoid some of the worst heat that had been predicted. Still, the climb up 46 was an incredible challenge – the ascent just never seemed to stop. Took plenty of breaks to hydrate and keep the nutrition flowing.
At mile 80, we found ourselves chugging against 20mph headwinds toward the lighthouse, which was like the equivalent of having another big mountain thrown into the mix. But we persevered, kept on each others’ tails, and believe it or not, finished! We were a bit late to make the promised BBQ (bummer!) but that was pretty much the day’s only downer.
Now that it’s done, I feel like the sky’s the limit, and just want to look at a menu of century rides around the country and start tackling them. Next up: Levi’s Gran Fondo in Sept. 17!
More images in the Flickr set.