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A Peach of a Century, Part 1

The first words out of Michael’s mouth the morning of our metric century ride was: “Why did we sign up for this again?” Getting up at 6am on a Sunday is never something one looks forward to…especially when you tossed and turned the night before. But I hopped (crawled slowly) out of bed and got ready for our end-of-summer-adventure.

We had a breakfast of pancakes (I had a piece of bacon and 2 Italian plums as well) and geared up with our spandex, bikes and some coffee, we drove down to Salem for the Peach of a Century ride. I’ll be honest: one of the biggest challenges was our clothing choices. It was barely 50 degrees Sunday morning and as we drove through the valley, a heavy mist hung over everything. It was a cold morning.

We arrived at the check-in spot at about 8:15 and were faced with a decision. Be cold now but happy later when it’s hot? Or warm now and miserable later when it’s hot? I chose to wear my tights, my cold weather gloves and my arm warmers instead of a jacket. Michael went with a long sleeved jersey. This proved to be a poor choice later.

We got our packets and got ready to go. We started out around 8:30 a.m. and I was feeling excited about our day.

The first eight miles or so were  pretty flat as we rode through the valley. The roads were marked really well and we never had any issues knowing what direction to take. There was spray painted markings on the road saying to go straight, left, or right.

We pulled over at around mile 13 because I was really hot. I took of my arm warmers and switched my gloves to my summer gloves. That helped a lot. It was still a little cool out, especially in the shade, but I felt warm enough with my exercise.

We hit the first decent sized hill and while my legs were feeling a bit lethargic, I made it up the hill pretty easily and felt really good about myself. The 62 mile route was supposed to be fairly “easy”, meaning it didn’t have the crazy elevation that the 100 mile route had, but we still encountered a lot of hard hills. HILLS! Look at that one!

We rode through the rolling hills of the valley, speeding by the farms and barns, the Christmas tree farms and the nurseries. It was a beautiful, scenic area to ride in and there was very low traffic, too.


Then there were more hills. One right after another. And these weren’t sissy little hills, these were challenging. I just looked down, pedaled the best I could and refused to give up. I was not going to walk up any of those hills!

Once I got to the top of both of them, I rested for a few moments and let my heart rate get back to the non-exploding bpm! Luckily, it was downhill on the other side of the hill! Michael was waiting for me at the top.

After the last big hill it was a nice downhill descent. Coasting! YAY! Once we got to the bottom of the hill, we were at the first rest stop at mile 22.5 in Jefferson, Oregon. The spread was fantastic! I was really impressed with the excellent support for the event. It was hosted by the Salem Bicycle Club and they just did an awesome job.

The first rest stop was perfect timing, too, because I was famished! I’d been snacking on dried apricots but that just wasn’t enough. The spread was great! They had roasted red potatoes, lots and lots of muffins, cookies, biscuits, bread for sandwiches, peanut butter, a ton of fruit, bagels and trail mix. I was really impressed with the food at this event. It was the best out of all the events I’ve done so far.

YUM! FEED ME. I had 1/4 of a bagel with cream cheese, a few potatoes with ranch dressing, 1/4 of a banana and a bunch of trail mix. It was perfect. It really hit the spot and got me through the next part of the ride.

 

Check out my new cycling jersey! It was great. The only thing I didn’t like was the pockets. They were a bit small. It was finally too warm for cycling tights so I took those off and ended up wrapping the pant legs around my waist like a jacket because the tights just didn’t fit in my jersey. I felt so much better shedding layers. It had warmed up nicely and felt like a hot summer day. Poor Michael only had his long-sleeved jersey. 🙁

We refilled our water bottles and set out for the second leg of our journey. The hardest part of the ride. To be concluded shortly!

 

QUESTION: What are your favorite “fuel” foods on long rides or runs? What works best for you?

The Portland Century – Part 3

The Portland Century – Part 3

The Home Stretch

 

Read Part One and Part Two.

I definitely felt a sense of relief when we arrived at the Springwater Corridor. It was where we’ve done the bulk of our training and it felt familiar. I could mentally relax knowing how close we were from the finish.


Heading west on the Springwater Trail means two things: the wind is usually at our back and it’s slightly downhill. Which means we can make up a lot of time by going pretty fast on the trail. The only downside is that there are a lot of stops for roads/intersections.


Michael and I stayed pretty close together for most of this stretch. We were in a group with other cyclists.



For most of the ride there weren’t any issues with non-cyclists until the Springwater. There was some guy not participating in the Century on his bike who shouted something rude to the cyclists going by, but I didn’t hear what he said exactly. Then a bit later, we were trying to make the light at an intersection and we had 5 seconds left on the signal so we booked it. We made it through the light with enough time but some guy sitting in his car shouted rude comments at us. I thought that was weird and uncalled for, I mean he’d have to sit at that light anyways so why be a jerk? Who knows.


The final Rest Stop came up pretty quickly. I think it should have been placed closer to the end of the Springwater Trail because that’s where I needed it to be. More on that later. We stopped at the East Gresham Park to rest.


This Rest Stop had Hot Lips Pizza! I was not hungry but had a slice anyways. We found some shade to sit down in and I did some stretching.



After stretching and getting more water, we headed out on the rest of the trail. It was the home stretch, mentally I knew how much was left and I was excited.


My back was also starting to hurt. I tried doing lots of stretches while I was on the bike–every few minutes–but it was getting hard to sit still. I was feeling the fatigue in my lower back and my shoulders and neck.


We biked down the Springwater, through Sellwood, and passed Oaks Park. It was cool to be biking where my commute is.

We passed OMSI and I knew I needed to stop and stretch. I was thirsty. I was starting to get cranky and my back HURT. Michael and I stopped underneath a bridge in the shade. I was trying to stay positive and not give in to the Cranky-Pants-I’m-Crashing-Mentality. I could see it looming over me and I wanted to complete the Portland Century with a positive attitude–not like how I finished Reach the Beach or Hood to Coast last year (near tears). I stretched and drank my water (which was hot at this point–yuck) and Michael said his butt was hurting. We both agreed that 70 was the right distance for us–that neither of us were ready for the full 100 yet.

We continued on up SE Water Street in the bike lanes and then we had to wait for a train to go by. That meant another break.




The wait was probably 3 minutes or so. Then we continued on. We were heading East–which was annoying me because PSU was west! I had no idea where we were heading. We crossed a few streets and then the signs said to turn left. There was a group of us turning left together and we all had our arms out indicating as such. A car behind us decided he wasn’t going to wait and he sped up and cut us off–narrowly missing a girl right in front of me. She came within INCHES from being hit! Whoever that guy was, he’s an asshole! Grrr! We turned and looped around a few blocks and then the route took us over the Burnside Bridge.


I’ve never biked over the Burnside Bridge. The bike lanes were nice and wide. We looped around through downtown once we were off the bridge. We biked through the very congested Saturday Market area and then up to Broadway where we biked the last stretch of the course–uphill of course, and with lots of stops at lights. A car almost hit me. I had the right of way and apparently he wasn’t paying attention to the bike lane when he decided to turn right but he stopped just in time and I stopped on my bike. SIGH. People can be jerks to cyclists.

We arrived at PSU and we were finished. And here is where I have two complaints about the Portland Century. 1) There wasn’t a finish line that we crossed. It was anticlimactic to just be DONE. Where’s the banner to ride under?? and 2) There was no stinkin’ medal. I wanted a medal. I paid $70 for this ride, there should be a medal at the end of it. I know that’s petty but dammit, why not?

Portland Century Stats:

Time: 6:28 (with all the stops)
Calories Burned: 3229
Distance: 71.9 miles


First order of business: get our checked bags and change out of our sweaty spandex!


It felt so good to be in real clothes. The next order of business: BEER.


A Widmer IPA. Then we got our gourmet dinner at the finish line. Salmon, salad, grilled asparagus, Dave’s Killer Bread, chicken, orzo salad (which was delicious) and of course dessert:


The salmon and chicken were a little dry but the food was decent and yes–I had two desserts!

We hung out at the finish line for about an hour. We relaxed, drank our beer and ate dinner. There was a band playing awful music, lots of people. We chatted with some guys that did the full 100 and then we ran into my friend Kristin. She volunteered for the event and rode the 33 Mile Route. (She’s also a runner and ran the Boston Marathon this year!) It was such a fun event! We had a blast and I was glad that I was able to enjoy the after party this time. I missed it at Reach the Beach because I crashed so hard and got hypothermia. That was not the case this time (it was 90 degrees!).


We headed home to shower. We were both truly exhausted and struggling to stay awake. Here are some final stats:


As you can see, our actual riding time was 5 hours, not 6.5. That 1.5 hours was sitting at lights and the rest stops. Also, our actual miles were 72.51 biked. That could just mean that we took a wrong turn at some point and got a few extra miles in. Our average speed was 14.4 mph. Michael thinks the elevation was off but I’m not sure.


What a cool app. I’m glad to see the actual stats from our ride to compare it to our training rides.

QUESTION: Have I inspired you to try something like this? 🙂