This was my first century ride (100 miles). Finally! After struggling with this all summer, it finally happened. Just to keep this somewhat short, I'll first highlight the good parts about this race.
One good thing was the beauty of the course: through the orchards and vineyards of southwest Michigan, into Indiana. The race organization also was great: over 5000 riders and we got a breakfast and a lunch after the ride, as well as a lot of organizing of the 15, 37, 50, 62, 75, 80, and 100 mile rides. And minimal traffic.
The bad things? The difficulty of the course, the horrible roads, the horrendous hills, and the wind, which I realize can't be controlled, but all added together makes a first century ride one for the books. The only way to describe the difficulty of the course is to say that by 62 miles I was in the granny gear and never got out of it. My knees are still aching from those hills!
The first 26 miles were comfortably deceiving: rolling to flat, through the vineyards, where the fragrance of the Concord grapes was like riding through a tunnel of grape crush, or maybe Welch's grape juice. Mmm. But then? The honeymoon was over.
From 26 until 100 miles, the hills were unrelenting, the wind was a factor, whether riding north or west, and the roads were a lot to be desired. There were so many spots where the road was so rough, I actually lost my grip on my handlebars, and there was no way to use the aero bars, as much as I wanted to. My elbows and forearms were so sore from the tension from hanging on for dear life sometimes. If the traffic had been any worse, I would have cut this thing short, no doubt.
Part of the course was into northern Indiana, and by the last 8 miles I was STILL seeing Indiana signs. I was having fits: if we only have 8 miles to go, why are we still in Indiana???? If we don't get back into Michigan soon, I am going to have a breakdown.
But the downside of getting back into Michigan was the bad roads. BAD ROADS! At 80 miles they actually had us go on an UNPAVED road! How is it posssible with all these roads out here to take us through an unpaved one??? Its not like it was having road work. It just wasn't paved, probaby never would be. What is up with that?? I walked through there, about 1/4 mile. I was very disgusted with that. Up until then, I was willing to forgive them for the bad roads and the hard course, but this put me over the edge.
After the 80 mile sag stop, I was having extreme difficulty, both mentally and physically. The hills and wind were a major factor here, and I was seriously doubting myself to be able to do this, to be able to do an IM. I prayed, a lot, to please get me through these rough spots, to help me finish, to help me see some good in this whole thing. From 85 to 100, I pushed myself through the hills, which were far worse from 88 until 100 than the first 87 miles. But I got through it, thank God, and I feel okay, other than being tired.
Somehow, this HAS to get easier!