BVC-CHAT cycling adventures: century ride
westover at iodp.tamu.edu
Mon Aug 30 16:14:36 CDT 2004
I went on my first century ride this past Saturday with my oldest son, Arthur, and his friend from high school, Ed Bravenec. A century ride is a 100 mile ride. This one is called the "Hotter 'N Hell Hundred" and takes place at the end of August every year in Wichita Falls, Texas, located a two or three hour drive northwest of Fort Worth, Texas.
We all met at Arthur's house in Dallas on Friday afternoon and took Ed's truck up to Wichita Falls carrying all our bikes, gear, cots, sleeping bags, etc. We stayed at the Family YMCA just outside of Wichita Falls. It cost us $10 per person and we set up our cots in one of the handball courts.
It was difficult for us to get to sleep. I'm not sure of all the reasons why, but they may have included the excitement plus the snoring of other people in the room and the noise they made (which echoed) when they came in and blew up their air mattresses and rustled their sheets.
The Y has bathrooms and showers, a pool, a gymnasium, etc. and people were sleeping all over the place. When we first got there, we checked our bikes into a locked area and got a ticket to reclaim them in the morning. They gave us towels to put on the floor so the wooden legs of our cots would not scratch the wood floors. Considering everything, we at least got several hours of pretty good sleep.
Alarms were set for 4:30 a.m. by some, since the "race" (actually an endurance ride) was to start at 7:00 a.m. We set ours for 5:00 a.m. and didn't get up until then, although I was already awake because of the noise of other people getting up and talking. It rained pretty hard in the night and the roads were all wet, but luckily the rain stopped and it did not rain (except a few sprinkles) during the day on Saturday. We were late enough getting down there to the start of the race that we did not have time to eat breakfast, so we each just ate a Power Bar in lieu of breakfast while we were riding in the car. After we got out of the truck, we finished putting on our gear and putting 8 hour sunscreen on our skin so we wouldn't get sunburned.
Governor Rick Perry (governor of Texas) started the race by shooting off a cannon somewhere up ahead of where we were in the group. There were 8500 riders participating and I heard they had over 1000 volunteers helping at rest stations and first aid stations. It's really a big deal for that town and has quite a history. After the starting gun sounded, it still took a good long time (5 or 10 minutes) before we even started moving, and for several blocks, we just walked our bikes along until we got up to where we could start riding slowly.
In the "kit" we received at registration they gave us a water bottle, a t-shirt, some chamois creme, a sample electrolyte drink, a small sample of an energy bar, and various advertisements and magazines. I bought a new CO2 carbon dioxide pressurized cartridge tire tube filler system before this ride and put it in my saddle pack. They're a lot smaller and work better (faster) than having to carry a pump in case one gets a flat tire. We saw a myriad of people stopped along the side of the road during the whole race who were repairing flat tires before they could continue on. Some had flat tires before the race even started. It seemed like we saw hundreds of flat tires. Lucky for us, neither Arthur, nor Ed nor I had a flat tire during the ride.
As soon as it thinned out enough so we could start riding, we picked up the pace and starting passing a lot of riders. There were faster and slower pace lines (peleton) with the slower riders to the right and the faster riders passing on the left. We just joined up and used the draft of the bikes ahead of us to make our riding easier. I hear that you use about 30% less effort when riding in the draft of another rider or a group. There were not that many hills and the hills were not that big, so most of the riding was fairly flat.
It was a very enjoyable scenic ride and I had a lot of fun. In many places there were people lined up on the sides of the roads clapping and cheering us on. That was fun. Some of them held out their hands to give us high 5's as we rode by. At one place, a boy had a hose with a sprayer on it and was spraying the riders as they went by. I tried to keep out of that one. Police and National Guardsmen and Highway Patrolmen were parked and standing in various places to keep watch and direct traffic and bicycles, telling us which way to turn and where to go. At one point in the ride, we got in behind four men in dark jerseys that said "Pride" on the back. I think they were from Tyler. They were nice fellows, obviously having a very good time and going at just the right pace for us, so we traveled with them for a number of miles and felt very good. When they pulled over and stopped, we kept going and joined another group, but riding with them was the most enjoyable.
I'm sure that most people who rode had a good time, but I'm sure there were a few who did not. At one point in our ride when we had about 20 miles left to go, we had an unplanned rest break while we had to wait for a helicopter to life flight someone out of the road ahead of us. Ed, Arthur and I only stopped at one rest station to use the facilities, refill our water bottles with Power Aid, and get a little to eat. I ate a piece of banana. They also had hot dogs and sausages at that stop, but I wasn't about to eat something like that and then be burping it up or vomiting for the next 50 miles. My rear end started hurting quite a bit at around 80 miles, so while we were stopped waiting for the helicopter, I got out the tube of chamois cream and squirted in down my pants onto the chamois. That helped.
Ed ran out of steam and faded toward the last 10 or 15 miles, but Arthur and I finished in good shape. We slowed down a bit so Ed could catch up. He said that his rear end hurting was the biggest problem, not his leg muscles. He should have put on more chamois creme like I did.
At the end of the race, all finishers received a pin signifying that they had completed the ride. After we crossed the finish line I heard someone calling my name and looked over to see Jim Hollowell, one of the riders of my club, the Brazos Valley Cyclists. He had finished earlier. I introduced him to Arthur and Ed and talked with him for a bit. It was good to run into someone there that I knew. He's the only one I saw, though.
We were walking kind of slow after the ride was over. You have to be careful when getting in and out of vehicles in order to not get your legs in the wrong position after a ride like that. We stopped back at the YMCA to take a shower and change clothes afterwards. That shower sure felt nice. One fellow who came in was wrapped up and covered with bandages on one side. I asked him what happened and he said that his front tire hit the back tire of someone else while he was riding and they both went down. He had a very bad case of road rash.
Arthur told me that I rode well, except that I needed to be more predictable and not move around so much while riding. I appreciated all the advice and suggestions I received from various people both before and during the ride. I'm sure I had fewer problems because of them. I kept my shoe straps loose and moved my hands to different positions on the handlebars frequently and varied my riding, so I did not have anything (feet, hands, fingers, etc.) go to "sleep" while I was riding. I still had feeling in all my body parts after I finished. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, we finished in just over 5 ½ hours with an average speed of about 19.5 miles per hour for the whole race. At least that's what my cyclocomputer said when I looked at it a couple of times while we were riding. Any way, I'd like to think we were going that fast.
On the way back we stopped at Subway and got something to eat. I ate a 12 inch Italian BMT sandwich. I ate the whole thing. Ed said, "I didn't realize how hungry I was until I started eating." I'm already looking forward to doing this ride again next year and I highly recommend it to anyone.
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