Monday, August 10, 2009

First event, done!

This past weekend I went out on my very first official bike ride, the Eat a Peach Bike Challenge, taking place in Westminster, MD. I went up there with my fiancee's friend's boyfriend.

Having never done a bike event before, I was very nervous. I had signed up for the 67 mile course, basically so I could claim I had done a metric century. My longest ride to date has been about 35 miles or so, but I had done that easily. One thing that I would soon realize was that 35 miles of flat terrain is nothing compared to 10 miles of non-stop hills.

I asked a good number of people about how to prepare for the event, and the most numerous advice I got was to carb load and hydrate. I went ahead and bought myself a pair of cycling shoes and clips. No cycling shorts.

We got to the event early, at about 6:30am. We walked around and stretched as the parking lot got filled with cars loaded with some very very impressive looking bikes. We got in line to register and talked with some people who sounded like they had done it before. They wished us luck as we grabbed our forms and off we took.

The first couple of miles we knew were going to be hilly. We had to drive them to come in. But, we both expected the hills to come to a stop and we would be able to set a relaxing 15mph pace. By mile 10 we gave up all hope of this being a flat course and we quit pedaling down the hills to save energy to go up. The first rest stop at mile 20 was a godsend. We refilled our water bottles with Gatorade, ate a PB&J and kept trucking along. By mile 30 we were in a lot of pain. Not our legs but our necks and back. We decided at the mile 40 rest stop we would take a lengthy break and get some energy back.

Unfortunately, the mile 49 rest stop wasn't marked well and it was on a side street. We missed it and by the time we realized we missed it, we were an extra two miles away. So we just pulled off into somebody's yard and relaxed. The next rest stop was only 10 miles away, so we made our way to that and took a much needed break. At that point we knew, with only another 12 miles to go, we would make it. As we ascended the final hill, which was the largest and aptly named "The Bitch Kate Wagner" (Kate Wagner being the name of the street) we realized we had made it. Cruising down the final stretch we leaned back and listened to the country band playing at the finish line.

It took over 5 hours to do. We averaged just over 13 mph, a far cry from what we thought. Amazingly, our legs weren't sore and after a good night's sleep I could have got up and rode another 10 or 15 miles.

All in all, it made me realize I have no interest in doing the 75 mile course of the Civil War Century, but might try the metric century as that doesn't go across the mountains.

I've been keeping track of my mileage on a spreadsheet, but so far for August:

Biking: 133 miles