Monday, May 27, 2013

The Challenge of the Centuries...

Aside from changing up my training plan this time around, I have decided to work on my biking.  I mean, I know I can make it through 112 miles of biking but I would like to make them through in a well, speedier, fashion this time around.  ...and really who wouldn't?  My speed has improved over the last couple of years but I feel like there is still something I am missing.  Maybe I am not pedaling correctly.  Perhaps it is the shifting.  Maybe I am just not moving my legs fast enough *ahem*.  Seriously.

Part of the grand plan for biking domination is to ride more.  Duh.  The last two IM's, the longest rides I completed were 100 miles in training.  There were two of those on the schedule, which seems to be pretty typical for most plans so it isn't like I was skating by but....  This time around, I have at least eight 100 milers on the schedule.  I probably wouldn't have *quite* so many on the calendar but I have been tagging along with my friend Meredith on her training rides as she gets ready for IM CDA in a few weeks and these things are ALWAYS more fun with friends.

If you are training for an IM on your own, I think that seeking out century rides and even half marathons to get in some of those long rides and runs is a real help.  Don't race them but use them as a training day (adding on extra miles to the half marathon to get in whatever mileage you have for the day).  It really breaks up the monotony, you have the route planned out for you, plenty of support on the course and rest stops as needed.  Brilliant.  As of right now, I have located just about every century ride in GA (and one in AL) for the next three months.  Excited to hit the road!

This week's ride was The Challenge of the Centuries.  If you have been around for a year or more, you might remember this was the ride where my bike mysteriously disappeared (read about it HERE and HERE).  Still not entirely sure what happened but it worked out in my favor as now I have Annie :)

Determined to break the curse of the race, I jumped at the chance to register when Meredith suggested it. The ride this day was named "Attack on Dick's Hill" which provided all sorts of fun jokes leading up to the ride.  We met up with Charlie and The Expert bright and early Sunday morning and we all took off to attack!

Apparently we all like our personal space...  :)

The ride took off with little fanfare and we were warned about railroad tracks.  One in particular they suggested we walk over instead of ride.  Being one to follow directions, I walked my bike over as packs of riders flew over it.  Ha ha.  Oh well.  The tracks were kind of nasty looking and one girl ahead of me kind of flew out of her seat bumping over them.  That and the skull and cross bones painted on the asphalt.  Decision made.     

Charlie took off within the first mile and we never saw him again.  He had a 16 mile run on his schedule after the ride so he was anxious to get done.  He is faster than us anyhow so who are we to hold him back?  :)

Shortly after the first rest stop, we heard those words no cyclist wants to hear  - "I have a flat".  The expert pulled it over and immediately set about investigating the problem.  He had a flat the week before so it seemed like this might be a bigger issue than just changing out the tube.  After a little investigation and an attempt to refill the air in the tire it seemed like his day was done.  He told us to go on while he waited for the SAG wagon that we had called.

At mile 25 or so we came upon the next aid station.  This happened to be the point where the 100 mile riders separated from the rest of the group.  Meredith decided she should cut her day short and ride back to the finish.  She encouraged me to go on.  I wasn't really sure I wanted to at that point as I was pretty sure I was the last rider on the 100 course and I didn't feel all that good about sending her off on her own either.  In the end, the call to conquer Dick's Hill and get in a solid 100 miles won out and I decided to set out on my own.  

Ironically, as we were standing at that aid station making our decision about the rest of the ride, a couple rode up and we got to talking about triathlons and such.  When I told her I was doing IM Louisville, she says "oh my son in law is doing that race".  I didn't ask who he was as I figured I surely would not know him.  Later on she tells us her son in law's name and it turned out to be my friend, Matt!  So very random.  She also happened to be reading the book Meredith wrote so it was a pretty cool meetup right there in the middle of north GA. 

They all pedaled off on the metric route and I continued on towards Dick's Hill wondering if I had made the right choice.  For the first few miles I kept thinking, this is dumb I have no idea where I am, etc. etc.  I did have the ride map but there was no one in sight.  I finally passed a couple of cyclists on the side of the road who had a broken spoke and somehow that made me feel better.  (I guess I was thinking the SAG truck would be along to check on them and would pass me at some point).  A few turns later and Dick's Hill came into view.  Oh my.

The ride had been a little hilly up until that point but nothing crazy.  I pedaled on towards Dick.  I knew it was going to basically be a four mile upward climb.  Once I hit the bottom I just got in gear and pedaled up. And up.  And up.  I passed another cyclist who was taking a break.  And I kept pedaling up.  After about two miles, there was a section of flat which was a nice break and then it started going back up.  And up.  Finally I reached the top which was signaled by the oasis of a rest stop.  Whew - I did it!  I chatted a bit with the rest stop guy and headed off.  Having that hill behind me and knowing there were other cyclists behind me made me feel better about heading off on my own.  I figured if anything happened, someone would be right behind me.  

The back half of the ride was a little hillier than the front but nothing I haven't ridden around here.  Somehow the miles kind of flew by after after conquering "the assault".  The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful except for a few dog chases (one that was kind of scary - those large dogs can move - I guess I did want to work on my speed...ha ha) and more rough railroad crossings.  Before I knew it I was pulling into the Y.  Done and done!  

I guess I didn't break the curse completely yesterday but may have transferred it to someone else - sorry Meredith and Expert!  One more century down, a bunch more to go....  Bring it on!  :)



Colleen said...

I'm impressed that you went ahead on your own... good for you lady! :) And how random is it that you met Matt's inlaws. What a small world!

Maybe next year I'll sign up with you, although from the sounds of it, something will happen to me so maybe I'll just stay home.

Kate Geisen said...

That's awesome! I've done a century on my own, but I'm not sure I'd be tough enough to finish one on my own when I'd planned to have company. You're going to go into your next IM bike soooo ready!

ajh said...

Wow! Good for you. You did that on your own. I am impressed with all your planned 100 mile rides. I love all the coincidences of that meet up.

Jim ... 50after40 said...

I'm always so impressed with you Tri and bike folks who log this kind of mileage. Great job!

Matthew Smith said...

That's so funny that you met my in-laws. You are awesome for continuing on and getting the whole 100 in. I would have been tempted, like you, to just call it a day.

What other centuries do you have planned? I need to get some more in!

JC Harris said...

What was the descent like after getting up that hill Karen?

Karen said...

Sadly the descent was not as epic as the ascent. There was one decent downhill but not as much as you would think... :(

Karen said...

I have one in Athens this week then the Jackson county brevet on the 15th and the GA400 century at the end of the month. You and Clifford need to hit the road!

Michael said...

Congrats on finishing the first step of total biking domination :)

You rock!!

The name of the ride was Awesome. I can only imagine the jokes.

Mike said...

Awesome ride! Way to stick with it.