Yesterday was my first official century bike ride. A century is equal to 100, so yes I rode 100 miles on a my Trek road bike! The ride was hosted by Spellbound Brewing in Mount Holly, New Jersey. This was the third year this event took place, but the first time I was able to take part in this event. There are were several distances to chose from; the century (100), metric century (62), 40 miles, and 22 miles. My Mom and I chose this ride to do our first century and as the website read, century riders receive a medal at the finish!
Prior to the race, the weather on Friday was pretty horrific. Rain! Rain! Rain! Saturday morning felt more like a mid October morning with gusts of winds, rain off and on, and no sunlight in sight. Still we proceeded to pack up the car and drive to the brewery to find out if the ride was still happening. It was! Good thing my Mom had packed windbreakers because the summer riding gear was not going to cut it! We checked in, got our riding numbers, made sure we had plenty of air in our tires, filled our water bottles, and rolled out of the parking lot on our bikes by 7am. The ride was capped at 750 riders and I don’t think many of the riders were following the century route, marked with orange arrows.
Rests stops were about every 20-24 miles apart. At each rest stop as a century rider you had to collect a sticker to claim your medal at the end of the ride. Now this was not a race, you did not win if you finished first. My Mom and I did not encounter many other riders during our time on the road. One thing I usually do love about sports like running, cycling, and triathlon, it brings people of common interest together. At one point doing the ride we came upon two women wearing riding jerseys that said jersey girl strong, with the logos for triathlon. Out of curiosity and being friendly, we asked could they tell us some more about their club, as we are always looking for groups to join. The one lady snapped back in a harsh tone, “what do you want to know!” Wow. I was totally shocked and my Mom and I just looked at each other, ok, so you don’t want to talk to us, got it!
Moving on later in the ride, I almost got hit by a car! As a cyclist and especially during these types of rides, you must follow the rules of the road just like a car. Bikes ride with traffic and obey all traffic signs and lights. As we were riding through the green light a car decided to cut off everyone and turn left in front of us and nearly hit us and caused me to fall off my bike into the middle of the intersection. Not cool dude. Not cool at all! The driver didn’t even stop to see if I was ok. Thankfully my bike and I were both okay. I picked up my bike walked it across the road and back on I went.
One thing I will tell you when riding such a distance; hydration and nutrition is key! Drinking plenty of fluids is so important. I alternate between water and an electrolyte drink-my choice is nuun. For nutrition you have to learn your own body to not over do it, but I really like the honey stinger waffles, honey stinger energy chews, and power bar simple fruit energy food. At the first stop I did have peanut butter and jelly sandwich and later I had a half of a banana.
The course was tough. According to my garmin I had a total elevation climb of 2,108 ft. One climb alone was 181 ft in elevation. Ridiculous. Mind you, when we turned on Hill Road, my Mom said to me I hope this isn’t a sign. Holy hills, you bet your legs it was!!!! With the wind pushing against us, it wasn’t an easy fight. We pushed through and with a steady time we stayed on track. Some where along the way back though, we missed the last turn and with GPS made it back to the brewery and tacked on an extra 5 miles. So really I’m celebrating 105 miles!
We rolled back in the same parking lot we started and received compliments of not looking like we rode 100 or in our case 105! Even though the conditions were not what I would consider the best, I still felt great and was ready to have a celebratory beer! I was handed a bag with my reward of a shirt and then I was looking for my medal that I worked so hard and stopped at each rest stop to collect those stickers! Only to my dismay to be surprised to be handed a keychain bottle opener that said Spellbound Century. Really? This is the medal I was promised??!?!?? Well, if you know me personally, this really didn’t go over well with me. I had to take a second to regain my thoughts and soon I found someone who I though was an employee, turned out to be one of the owners to listen to my two cents about keychain vs. medal. I was then directed by the owner to talk to the person who ordered these medals (KEYCHAINS) this year and give him my feedback, and surely enough I did. Well some other workers over heard me voicing my concerns and gave me a commemorative coin that was for sale for $20 for free because they said they had the same thoughts of what had happened this year.
What a day Saturday was! My Mom and I conquered 105 miles, nasty attitudes, crazy drivers, and a disappointing medal. You better believe that keychain is hanging on display with all of my other medals, because I didn’t bike 105 miles to not receive the medal promised. I will always look back and laugh at that silly keychain that can not double as a medal.
Keep calm and bike on!