Saturday was my shot to take on the Civil War Century. I’ve had this one on the ‘to-do’ list for some time now and something always got in the way of it. Not this year. I was up at 4:45am, on the road by 5:20, in the parking lot by 7, and on the bike by 7:20. The weather turned out beautiful. Given the forecast, it could have gone either way. It started out with a little fog that burned off quickly. That’s the extent of the precip we saw all day.
Here was one of the first groups to pass me. Should have kept count, by the end of the day I would have seen every rider on the 100 mile route who finished.
Aside from a few screaming descents, I started out slow and kind of just stayed there. One of my reads over the last month was Why We Get Fat, which has been making the rounds on many others’ websites for several months now. I’m 2-3 weeks into a carb controlled diet, which has given my weight loss efforts a 5-7 pound boost after being stagnant for about 4 months. The boost came at the price of energy. I’m fine to pedal right now, but didn’t have it in me to put out more than a low-steady wattage all day long. The hills were as I remembered them, but I just kept moving and everything worked out fine. I switched back to carbs to fuel the day, but it appears that it takes more than a day for me to begin burning high octane fuel efficiently.
Between the first and second rest stop I came across someone who had a bad shift and exploded their chain. I helped out reassembling the links so they wouldn’t have to wait for sag and added a few points to my karma bank. The time off the bike put me behind schedule but no more than my slow pace did.
Another rest stop, another major climb and I made it to the bailout point where I was 2 years ago. I sat and ate a fig newton contemplating my fate—seriously considering coasting back to Thurmont. After 4 minutes, I sat back and said to myself 1. I’m not injured and nothing’s broken. 2. There’s plenty of places to stop and rest. 3. Worst comes to worst I’ve ridden in the dark a bunch of times already. 4. When am I going to be here again? How’d it turn out?
Made it to Gettysburg
Kept at it that’s how. However, I did realize just how much I’ve fallen off in the last month. My other problem was that I dropped weight/core training when work got insane 3 weeks ago and it doesn’t take long at all for muscles to atrophy. Combining strength training with the bike really had me feeling good for a while there. Have to do more to get back to that. Coming through the back 40 I started to get cramps in my quads while on the bike, which has never happened to me before. Did the only thing I could do which was step off every now and then, enjoy the view and take photos.
As the end grew nearer, the pace straggled proportionally. At one point I looked down and I was 15 miles out averaging 15mph. I looked down again a little later and the numbers were 11 miles out and averaging 11mph. Then I looked down while going up a little hill 6 miles out from the finish and had to chuckle at riding an average 6mph. Seemed like I was always an hour away. The minor headwind from the west didn’t help much either. Thank god for the drops. Turned out ok, and the ice cream truck was even there when I got back. (bonus!). I saved a true celebration meal for once I got home where I had a Troëgs Pale Ale waiting for me.
Final word is it was a great day. The weather was perfect. My slow pace made it a ride with a surprisingly large number of solitary hours for an event with 1600 people. When I got home and looked at my computer I was surprised to finally average out the day at close to 12 mph. It felt much slower. I’ll probably think of something later on, but for now… nice time…
Numbers: 8:59’53″ | miles – 106.1 | average – 11.8 | elev gain – 7168′
(All info from the eTrex. The cateye batteries are officially dead. Elevation looked pretty reliable from the unit, but got all wonky when I imported to Garmin’s website. Elevation corrected data pulled a way-too-low number of 5200′ and correction off showed a way-too-high number of 8200′.)