Saturday, June 1, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood Century Ride

Today was Little Red!  This is an all women's ride that has distances ranging from 18-100 miles.  My friend, Leanne and I opted for the century.  She is the one I rode Wildflower Pedalfest with last year, and after doing that 78 miles with the BRUTAL Big Mountain climb (we are both still suffering from PTSD after that), we figured we could handle a fairly flat century ride, so we signed up for this one together!

Going into this, I knew we could do it, I just wasn't sure how bad it was going to hurt given that I have had some tough training rides with her that capped at 50 miles, and I was toast!  I knew that we could finish, I just wasn't sure what condition we would be in at the end.

We started the weekend by meeting in Layton and driving up together.  I love Leanne!  She is so fun to hang with and the two hour ride up to Cache Valley was fun, as it always is with her.  We went right to the expo, did some shopping, and then headed back into town for dinner and to check into the hotel.  We settled into bed around 11, but had to get up at 5:45 in order to make it to the 7:30 start.  We wanted to be in the first group that headed out, since we weren't sure how long this was going to take us and we wanted to beat the heat as well.

START TIME!  We started right with the first group at 7:30 am.  It was chilly out, and Leanne had brought some throw away layers, and lent me one of them.  It was great to have a layer on the first part of the ride because it was cold.  I had wished I had full fingered cycling gloves because my fingertips were FROZEN!  I knew they would eventually thaw out, but it wasn't fun at the time.  By the time we hit the first feed zone at Mile 14, I was good to shed the throw away layer.  I was immediately impressed with the feed zones.  They had everything you could want!  Such a variety of foods - fruits, granola bars, candy, chips, pretzels, peanut butter sandwiches, crackers, Gatorade, first aid supplies, etc.  And the volunteers were amazing!

The whole ride was beyond scenic.  I love Cache Valley.  Ken and I met and fell in love up there, and then lived there for a few years before finishing school and heading south.  I will always have a fond place in my heart for Cache Valley, but even someone with out those memories and ties to the area would enjoy how scenic and perfect this ride was.  Due to this being a fairly early season event, the weather was perfect (we hit 70 for the day) and it was sunny, very little wind, and hardly a cloud in the sky.  The mountains, valleys, and trees were all just a gorgeous green.  The entire course  is all on county roads and state highways that get very little or no traffic, and it was awesome!  They were well maintained roads too, which is always a bonus.  

Leanne and I hit almost every aid station.  We stopped for the below pic at Mile 40.  That was a great feed zone with volunteers to dump crushed ice into your water bottles.  We were feeling good at this stop!  Leanne was having some hip issues, and my shoulder was giving me crap, but nothing more than any other ride of 40+ miles.  We knew at this station we were only 14 miles from lunch!

40 miles down, 60 to go!

The next 14 miles were pretty uneventful.  We had some people ride along with us, draft off of us for a bit, and we would visit then part ways.  Lunch was fantastic when we finally hit Mile 53ish.  They had all kinds of Subway sandwiches, chips, peanut butter and jelly, candy, cookies, and DIET COKE!  I can't tell you how good the chips and the Diet Coke in particular tasted at this point!  I was amazed again at the selection, the service and the volunteers!  This was so well done!  Even with so many riders at each stop, we hardly ever had to wait in a line for anything, and it was just so well done!
We then had another 20+ miles till the next stop.  These miles were more scenic parts of the western half of Cache Valley.  We went through Newton, and past Newton Lake that I had never seen before.  Oh man, those lake waters were so inviting!  I was craving an open water swim!  So glad that part of the season is almost here!  We had a gradual climb after Newton lake but it really wasn't bad at all, then we were rewarded with a FANTASTIC down hill.  I am usually all about a good down hill, but on the other hand, sometimes, things just get a little too steep, and this was a little intimidating.  I didn't dare to it in full aero, but I was in the drops where I could duck low, but still have control of the brakes if I needed them.  It was so fun!
Mile 80, and still smiling!
The course then took us over the Utah/Idaho border, but the scenery stayed much the same.  Rolling hills, farm lands, and people out on their driveways to cheer us on with waves and cowbells.  We stopped at Mile 80ish for our final aid station.  I was again amazed at how good I felt.  Though my shoulder was achy and my butt was clearly feeling the miles in the saddle, it wasn't as bad as I expected!  Energy wise I felt fantastic and my legs were doing great! I loaded up the water bottles, grabbed some Gu Chomps, and we were off to finish the final 20 miles!
This is where things got interesting.  Even though we were both feeling good, it didn't mean that we were up for making this ride any more challenging.  We left that final aid station and had some gently rolling hills that we weren't excited about, but felt that we could deal with.  Then we rounded one corner and could see what lay ahead for us at about Mile 89.  This HUGE hill was there and the road sort of wrapped around this beast.  It was pretty steep too.  Yikes!  I mean, really?  Who does this at Mile 89-90 of a 100 mile ride?  Well, apparently the organizers of LRRH.  I guess they figure if you are up for 100 miles, you are not a beginner and are up for whatever they want to throw at you, right?  HA!
The climb was a beast.  I put it into the smallest gears I could and just grinded my way up.  My quads were burning, but I kept thinking that this was a BONUS!  A Century ride with LOTOJA training mixed in!  Lucky me, right?  I kept my head on the road and decided not to look too far ahead because it was just depressing to see how much more there was to go, so just concentrate on what was immediately in front of me.  Before I knew it I was at the top, but it was NOT easy.  I just kept praying that was the final climb and that the worse was behind us.  Luckily, it was.  

We had gotten slightly off course due to the course markings, or lack there of at one point, and we weren't sure how much more we had to go.  Our watches read 91 miles after that climb, but even though we were back on course, we weren't sure if we had lengthened or shortened the full 100.  I told Leanne if we got to the finish and we weren't reading a full 100, we were going to keep riding until we hit that.  Luckily those final miles were easy, and we finished feeling great at the finish line with my watch reading as follows:

We had done it!  We conquered 100 miles on our bikes!  Our first Century ride complete and we were feeling great!  Both Leanne and I couldn't believe how good we felt, and we were so excited to have this as an item we can cross off our lists!  I would be lying if the thought didn't cross my mind that I could easily go 12 more, and then could I run after that?  (Ha, ha. Can you tell I totally want to do an Ironman someday?)

100 miles in the books!

- This ride was a great ride.  So well done and organized.  These people clearly have this down to a science.  I have no complaints whatsoever.
-  A century ride if you have good conditions, isn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  Granted, it isn't easy, but it didn't kill me either.  Way easier than a marathon.
-  I rode 90% of this ride in aero.  I was proud of myself for doing this, and it just feels like the natural position for me on the bike.  I handle left hand turns better than right hand turns, and I can handle a down hill in them if it isn't too steep.  And even though my shoulders still ache, it beats how much it used to really hurt in the traditional bars.
-  I am thinking this definitely needs to be a yearly event.  Very few events will I make a regular part of my season, but this may have just made the cut :)
-  I love my bike!  Happiness is simply defined as a good down hill, in aero, on smooth roads, with great company, and the feeling that you are flying.

My awesome chariot.  She worked hard today!
Until next time, Happy Training all!

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