- Moving Time: 7:32:59
- Elapsed Time: 9:34:07
- Total Mileage: 101.7
- Total Elevation: 5,572
- Average Speed: 13.5 mph
- Max Speed: 34.9 mph
Heading into 2020, I had a sense it would be a tough year. My father was fighting lung cancer, after undergoing chemotherapy treatments that depressingly only made him more ill. In late February, just as COVID-19 began pouring into the US, the battle ended. A guilty feeling of gratefulness sunk in as the stay-at-home order was put into place. Retirement homes and hospice centers were not allowing visitors. It broke my heart to reading news articles of families who were not allowed to hold their loved ones as they were dying. Hence, feeling grateful that my father passed before the turmoil.
One by one events were canceling. Races that athletes trained for, some even training for multiple years, cancelled. I followed along social media, seeing fellow athletes change to fall races in hopes that the pandemic would lessen and we’d all be back doing what love…moving our bodies.
Then, fall races started cancelling. I had four running events on my radar this year. Two I had signed up for, which cancelled and deferred to 2021. One I hadn’t signed up for yet and canceled, and one that is still scheduled but I decided not to sign up. With so much out of our control these days, I didn’t need or want any more disappointments this year, and was is one thing I could control. This all fed into the creation of epic event of the year (so far), what was to become the badass century!
Kale, personal trainer/coach/mentor/badass – I really never know what to call him because he is everything! – suggested that I set a challenge of my own, a long bicycle ride in our own state, New Hampshire. He mentioned the word ‘century’ and I thought, yeah, I can do that! I had purchased a new bike in April and was itching to keep riding. This gave me a new purpose.
Originally, the plan was to ride solo. As I didn’t know anyone that was trained enough at that point to ride along with me. I suppose I could have strung some people together, for sections of the ride, but again, I didn’t want any further disappointments this year if I could help it. Fast forward a few weeks after the initial conversation with Kale and little did I know, his wheels were turning (hah, get it, his wheels were turning…okay, bad pun). Anyway, he had three other women in mind that were also interested in pushing outside of their comfort zones; and that’s where it all began.
Three out of the four of us had two sessions together with Kale on group riding techniques, how to change a tube and basic bike maintenance. Before I knew it, it was 5:40 AM EDT on July 25th and we were snapping into our pedals not knowing what the day would bring. I was terribly nervous, wondering how the group would function together and if something mechanical would happen, how we’d figure it out on our own.
Luckily, only one mechanical issue with a loose chain (not mine) within the first five miles and no flat tubes or tires!
As you can see from the elevation gain, there were A LOT of hills. Only two sections of the route were unfavorable, in my opinion. The first was a long downhill on choppily paved road, which I white-knuckled the entire way down. The second section was a busy and fast-driving road in a touristy part of the state. Even the steep sections, which we cursed outwardly and loudly along the climb, were not terrible because they were on quiet back roads and you could weave unto the road if you needed to.
Early on in the ride, we rode past Tarbin Gardens, where my father and I had a memorable day many years ago. It’s an attraction where you can have authentic English Cream Tea served in their garden. My father had proudly packed our lunch, his favorite, cream cheese and olive sandwiches. I guess he wasn’t aware that I didn’t like olives, but I tried them and certainly confirmed my dislike for them that day! It was comforting to have those memories and I got the sense that my father was with me during certain points along the ride.
Lessons learned on my first century ride: stop to pee when YOU need to, have a variety of fuel to be able to eat WHILE riding, plan AHEAD for your lunch stop and water replenishment, and finally, wear sunscreen on your LEGS.