This past Sunday, I mastered the Door County Century – a 100 mile bike ride up and down the peninsula. Mastered is a strong word; let’s just say I finished it.
Doesn’t your butt hurt just looking at it?
There is a lot of preparation that goes into the pre-cycle. Many people train or at least occasionally ride their bike throughout the year before trying to hammer out 100 miles before 5 p.m., when they start clearing the streets. Most entrants also do things like invest in a road bike, eat a good breakfast, load up on carbs and have a general idea of what they are getting themselves into. Me, I prefer to do no research whatsoever, ride a mountain bike and walk a thin line between skipping breakfast and enjoying a slice of beer bread. At the suggestion of my boyfriend’s sister, however, I did have a hefty dinner the night before, but then again I’m always on the lookout for an excuse to inhale a pound of french fries.
I initially had only intended to do a half century (50 miles, if my math is correct) but once on the trail and enjoying a steady supply of sugary muffins and other treats offered at the rest stops, I became delirious and thought that not only could I finish the full 100 miles, but I could probably also keep up with my boyfriend and his sister, even though they are half German, half cycle-bot. And for a while, I was clipping along at a decent pace, hopped up from a recent binge of strawberry shortcake and Excedrin.
I don’t know why it was so difficult. Several times a year I have been known to make the 1/8 of a mile journey, by bike, to the library. If you would have asked me if I could make that same trip 800 more times, back to back, I would have said, “Of course!”
That was before I realized the full extent of what 9 hours in the saddle can do to one’s butt. (A couple times on the trail, when no one was around, I would reach into my yoga pants — yes, yes, I know, I should have had padded spandex shorts with energy bar logos across my butt but I was unprepared — and gingerly tap the raw fleshy mass where my butt used to be and inspect my hand for blood or clumps of skin.)
Also, due to the fact that I apparently ride in a pigeon-toed contortion of my feet, my knees feel like any bend might send them snapping off and flying across the room. I have to slowly back up and lower myself into all seats.
It was a very fun ride, though, despite all the whining I’m subjecting you to. I made several friends along the way – everyone is extremely friendly and supportive. The people who passed me (which would include the group known as everybody; even senior citizens and a group of three guys with fairy wings attached to their backs) would ask me, “How many miles you doin’?”
Although I would think to myself, “Well, I’m on the same 100-mile route you’re doing, idiot, so you do the math”, but of course I only said, “The full hundred”, to which they would respond, “On a mountain bike?! Good for you!”
Then I would feel pretty proud of myself and pretend like I had done this on purpose. “Yeah, I figured my $17,000 road bike wouldn’t be enough of a challenge, so I opted for the mountain bike. Next year I’m bringing a one-speed with pedal brakes.” Pfft, next year, my chaffed ass.
I probably could be tempted into going again next year, once my butt has grown back and I’ve repressed the memory of the head wind that escorted me the last 40 miles to the finish line.
I have learned a few things, though, that I will definitely implement before going on next year’s trip.
First of all, I’m bringing a $46,000, 11-ounce road bike with nitrous propulsion jets and a team of sled dogs. I also have to find out where they sell those protein bars laced with speed that everyone had.
Burning 2,000 calories is no excuse to consume 8,000 calories. (They feed you delicious junk food along the way and then at the end they hand you another huge plate of junk and your stomach screams and jumps up and down and tells your brain, “Body. Need. Food. Give. Body. More. Food.” and your brain’s like, “No, idiot, you don’t need this,” but your body’s all like screaming and whining and your brain doesn’t want to put up with your body’s crap anymore so it gives in and allows your hands to keep transporting more food to your mouth.)
Cyclists are a different breed. The hard core ones, anyway. I thought there would be more casual bikers there, such as myself, but when I entered the parking lot and saw all the Subarus I knew I was in trouble. I’ve never seen a higher concentration of Subarus. (Yes, smartasses, not even at a Subaru dealership.) To summarize, I will not be wearing yoga pants to my next Century, I don’t care how awesome my butt looks in them.
Taking the next day off work would be a good plan in the future. Believe it or not, after nine hours of bike riding we just did not feel up to the 6 hour drive home in the dark.
I’m making the Century sound like a nightmare, but that’s just because saying positive things isn’t very funny. The Century was a great time and I would recommend anyone do it. As I have proven, you don’t need to be in the best shape to finish, you just have to be
stubborn persistent enough. Your mind will always quit before your body.
I don’t want to leave things on a positive note, so I’ll tell you that I just went to the bathroom and looked at my butt in the mirror and it looks frostbitten. Pictures coming soon, once I regain the flexibility to take pictures of my own arse.