Several months late, but finally, here it is....
After months of training, a couple of events occurred that made me so happy that this was not a race I entered. First, I had to travel for work the week before the ride, which wasn't the end of the world, but the hotel I stayed in had the saddest little workout room consisting of a crappy elliptical and a treadmill. In addition, the state I traveled to had some major wildfire action and the air was hideous. Such awesome timing.
S and I made the choice to have his parents watch the kids so that we could go up to the start the night before. If we didn't do that, I would have gotten up at 4am to get myself ready and to the start line. Uh...not awesome. So, I booked a hotel room, and upon doing the online check-in process noticed that our room was right next to the lobby and pool. Screw that, I picked another room on the 3rd floor and away from noise. We met a few fellow riders for dinner that night, S indulging in a few drinks, and me indulging in a sparkling water. The dinner was tons of fun, and I love to try out a new restaurant. Upon physically checking into the hotel at 9pm, we find out my colossal mistake. I booked the one smoking room in the entire hotel. The front desk clerk was kinda-sort-of sympathetic when my shocked face turned white and brought us an ionizer and Febreeze to help us get through the night.
Sleeping through the night wasn't exactly relaxing as every time I sort of woke up, I smelled stale cigarette smoke. In the morning, I woke up before the alarm and had to get the hell out of the room.
After breakfast, S and rode to the start line together: I gathered my thoughts, felt like I was going to throw up and worried aloud about completing 100 miles before they started picking up stragglers off the course.
At the start line, groups of women ran around wearing the same cycling outfits, obviously riding together as a group. It's times like these when I wish I were more outgoing and had searched out a riding partner or two in my weeks of training. Too late now and I was wholly on my own. I felt like throwing up again.
I made it through the mass start without bumping into anyone, and set off in the cool morning air. A few miles in, we hit a 1/4 mile stretch of dirt road through a farm. Hi! Everyone awake?! 20 miles into the ride my hip and knee hurt and the usual twinges in my upper back were taking hold. The last 2 miles to the first aid station were excruciating, but not surprising. That's where training helped out. I could recognize the kinks being worked out rather than signs of not being able to go further. Happily stopping at the first rest stop, I encountered a llama! It was a llama farm and were able to take pics with one of the show llamas. (seriously)
The next leg was awesome, I felt good, got into a rhythm and was recognizing roads I had previously ridden. A short stint on dirt through a construction site didn't even phase me. Second rest stop at about mile 40'ish was a huge party! Live music, and tons of people. The 65-milers were starting to catch up to the 100-milers. I only stopped for a few minutes before hopping on for the next leg. One of the best quotes I heard all day from a fellow rider, "It's just 4x25mile intervals!" ha.
Third leg was ok. I knew where the next aid station was going to be having ridden there once before on the fateful group ride where I got a flat and was dropped. It also helped that the ride from station 2 to station 3 was a shorter leg. Pulling up, I was tired and hot, ready for a long rest before tackling the the final 35 miles.
After my lunch, of which I did not choose wisely, (note to self, as much as you need carbs on these rides, the half bagel with peanut butter and jelly is not a good idea), I got on the bike, ready to pound out the final miles. I can do 35 miles in my sleep, right? Not when I already have 65 under my belt, it's blistering hot and my lunch is sitting in my belly like a rock. As is typical on rides like this, there was a point where I could have thrown in the towel and followed the signs back to the finish line, eschewing the additional loop for the 100-milers. But no. I was here to do 100-miles, and dammit, I was doing it! Taking the left turn instead of right, I found myself all alone on the route. Scary alone. The kind of alone where I started to wonder if I missed a turn. Then, I saw a group up ahead, and sighed with relief. Until I got the the group and found a fellow cyclist sprawled on the road bleeding with people all around her. Stopping to check that they had help and had called paramedics, I was hit with the harsh reality that is road biking. Even on an easy straight stretch of road, when you're tired, any obstacle can put a bloody end to the ride. (eeeeekkkkk). Pushing on, and being cognizant of how tired I was becoming, rhythm eluded me no matter how much I tried talking myself into "pedal, pedal pedal". At mile 80: another stretch of dirt road! This time the road was soft from cyclists riding through and at the first sign of wobble in my front wheel, I bailed. Better safe than sorry and I walked a good portion of the stretch until I was confident I could get going again. The final aid station was sparsely populated with what turned out to be the last group of century riders. Tired, hot, sweaty, and covered in 5 layers of sunscreen, I once again, saddled up for the final 10 miles.
The longest 10 miles I've ever ridden. Winding through residential streets, turning what seemed like every 1,000 feet, and to just piss us off (I'm sure), a final stretch of dirt. When finally reaching the finish line, I saw S and he had his phone up taking pictures. Digging deep, I managed a fist pump before limping to a stop. One giant bear hug, then commands: Let me take your bike, I have your sandals, take your shoes off, sit DOWN.
It was the biggest sport challenge I've ever undertaken, and I felt surprisingly good once it was over. I expected to be sore for days, and was only tired the following day. I expected to hate my bike afterwards. Instead, I'm planning 3 endurance events for next summer.