Turns out, the term “sustainability” is not well defined and until the 1979 Energy Crisis it was basically a synonym to “endurance.” To that end I will tell you my late encounter with endurance – the Denver Century Ride with three weeks of training on my 1988 Peugeot Triathlon.
As some of you know, I tend to make apparantly random New Years Resolutions (like that time I gave up all products made by Frito-Lay) and follow through with them. This year I decided to run the Memorial Day Bolder Boulder (10 km) even though I had only ever run half the distance (5 km / 30 minutes). By February I could run 6k and was so confident that I figured I would be in shape by then and could hop on a bike and ride the Denver Metric Century two weeks later.
As the Winter turned into Spring I found myself only running once a week and thought 8k was a pretty far distance so I decided to take a bike ride to see how I was doing. 25 miles round trip back to the house and I felt great, like I could ride forever. So I stepped up my runs to 10k the next week. I got three 10k runs in by the last week of May. The Saturday before the race I thought it would be a good idea to not run, so I found out there was a training opportunity for the bike ride and showed up for the second of three ~60 mile rides. The first rest place was 20 miles in, and everyone pulled candy and gummie bears out of their jerseys! I had no idea people eat during these things – one of the things my sister, who is a runner, tought me was to not eat less than 2 hours before a run to avoid cramps (through trial and error I proved this advice). So I turned back and made it to the Bike Source parking lot very hungry. After 2 days of eating like mad, I jogged the Bolder Boulder in pretty good time – about 55 minutes / top third of the population. Next weekend I showed up for the final training ride with food and made it the full 65 miles Yeah! I spent the day riding with several people and everyone’s advice was to ride the full 100 miles of the Denver Century that next weekend rather than the “intermediate” 100k ride.
For symmetry I decided to run rather than ride a few days before the event, so I ran about 3 miles around the park and didn’t feel great. Furthermore as all the bike shops are saturated with work this time of year I had to at least oil the chain myself and was pleased to discover I could also tune my drive train and alignment in the garage by myself. For the last couple weeks the back wheel was so far off I could barely ride with no hands and I could not get chain to land on a couple gears so this lifted my hopes that the ride would be a pleasure.
After getting up at 4 AM and choking down 170 grams of carbs, I made it to the start line by a few minutes after 6 (on time as I wanted to beat the rush at 6:15). The beginning of the ride was disappointing in that there was no pomp like the Bolder Boulder – in fact there was not even a clock, just an official saying you just go that way real fast, if something gets in your way, turn. So I headed to lookout mountain with the heard. I had done this twice before so I knew when/what to eat to maximize my digestion for the 30+ minute climb. About half way up I knew I was going to be optimally ready for the rest of the day, but was astounded by how low people could gear down. I would be doggin it if my speed dropped below 7-8 mph, but others were cruzin at probably 4-5 with there leggs just spinnin like butter. The jeaolosy was the worst part. I didn’t want to pass everyone, but had to to save my legs. All the excitement caught up with me at the top and I flet pretty lousy. I ate on schedule by myself for 10-15 minutes, sent a text to Kate, and eventually mounted my hog and coasted the 20 miles down to Morrison. After hitting the aid station there at the bottom of the 2 mile hill I felt a little better, and after the climb I started to recognize where I rode with the training group on their second (my first half asseed) ride.
At the 100k point I became acutely aware that it marked the end of the intermediate ride which took a different path after mile 45, they will diverge form this path and go down (when they get here in a few hours) while we climb. I felt great. I knew that the metric would have been a dissapontment for me after all the build up. Then, at mile 65 I started feeling bad again. I have not ridden this far in over a decade and even though I was keeping up with my 15+ mph pace, in the words of any of the star wars characters, all I could think was, “I have a bad feeling about this.” I was getting sunburned – didn’t know the sunscreen would not last by constant sweating, the roads in Southeast Denver have fast large vehicles, and there is no shade. At the last aid station around mile 77 I was ready to catch a shuttle home. I went to the back of the gatorade line at the same time as this another guy so I said, “you go first,” he insisted and I said, but then I’ll have to get on my bike sooner. Turns out everyone felt about the same, and as it was downhill the rest of the way I got back on and rode home (quite fast for the last 10 miles along Cherry Creek in fact).