After ramping up our mileage over the last month or so, someone in the Church of the Spoken Wheel had the bright idea that we should ride a century.
Lemberger mapped out a route that took us southwest from Madison and back again. The route itself was excellent — and all late-ride profanity and cursing aside, he deserves a gold star for creating the route, the map, and the cuesheets.
There were some hills, but not a ridiculous amount.
Large portions of the route looked something like this (only often less green).
And when the scenery looks like that, the roads look like this…
But it wasn’t all tailwinds and downhills. Not only was it the longest ride I’ve done this year (by about 15 miles), but it was hot. Damn hot. If you look closely in the above photo, you can see the salt starting to encrust my jersey. Warm and humid in the morning (and we left an hour earlier than usual), which turned hotter and drier as the day progressed.
Not surprisingly, hydration became the main issue. I drank more than enough (and thanks to both Dan and Nate for keeping me in electrolyte tablets throughout the day, since I stupidly left mine at home).
But, there were a couple of bad patches. Even though I was able to take on enough water, after a certain point — mile 65 or so — the food and the water, combined with the building heat, started to disagree with each other, and with me. The overall pace went down, I spent more time at the back of the pack, and called for a few more stops in the shade than I would normally.
In retrospect, it would have been better perhaps to have stopped longer in Monticello and gotten out of the heat for a while. And stayed away from the soda that I drank in Monticello. And we could have done a few other things — like Nate’s bright idea to buy a bag of ice for filling water bottles (which he unfortunately didn’t come up with until we were 10 miles past the stop in Monticello).
The bottom line? It was one of the hardest rides that I’ve done in a while. Not because of the route itself — though it has some challenging stretches — and not because of my general level of fitness, which is pretty good right now. Nope, it was the heat and humidity early and the high heat and dryness later in the day, which in turn just made everything all that much harder. Especially nutrition.
We’re already talking about riding this route, or one much like it, when the weather cools. Middle of September or sometime in October, perhaps.
Stats: 104.8 miles, 15.0mph average, 6:58 moving time, 9:04 overall.