Sunday, January 20, 2013

First January Century Attempt

I had decided right around New Year's that I wanted to attempt the Century-A-Month Challenge. After looking at my schedule for the month, it looked like Saturday the 12th would be the best day to attempt my January century. Looking at the weather forecast, I learned it was going to be the coldest day of 2013 up to that point. The forecast was calling for a high approaching 20, with a low of about 7. No worries, I thought, I'll just look that much tougher when I actually complete it.

Since I had previously commuted in temperatures as low as -4, I didn't think it would be that crazy to do 100 miles in warmer temperatures. I guess I forgot that my commutes were only 6.5 miles, and how cold I really was on them.

I began the day by leaving the apartment at about 8:15 in the morning, 15 minutes later than I wanted. Not a big deal. After I got my bike ready for the day, it was 8:25. Then I was having MAJOR issues clipping in. It was so bad I almost gave up and went back to bed. Took me about 10 minutes to be able to clip in, and that was no easy feat. It wasn't for a couple hours that clipping in became easy again. Not a good start.

Hey look! - this is where I biffed.
Once I got moving, though, things were going pretty well. I had a 14.5 mph goal in mind for the ride, and during the coldest part of the day I was exceeding that. That good feeling didn't last very long. At about mile 15 I was riding on a bike path in Boyd Lake State Park. There was a light dusting of snow on the trail, maybe a 1/4 of an inch - just enough to give the path a nice coating. I took a corner too fast, as if it was a clear summer day. Down I go. Nothing major, just slid out on the drive-train side of the bike. All I got out of this was a bit of snow on my pants, and a lesson reinforced. Not a good first hour and a half of the ride.

My plan was to do about 55-60 miles before I stopped home, ate lunch, and warmed up a bit. But because I under dressed my feet, I had to take my break after just 46 miles. My toes were so numb it was as if I came from the doctor's office. I spent about 45 minutes at home getting warm and eating lunch. Changed shoes, too.

The second half started out as well as it could. I hit the road again at about 1:00 pm, and it was as warm as it was going to get for the day. This good feeling lasted about 20 miles. After that I started to get very cold very fast. On top of being cold, I was becoming physically exhausted because I hadn't been riding much for the past month. By this point my cruising speed had slowed to barely 14 mph. And that was pushing it. But I was at about 70 miles, so I just told myself "only 3 more 10 mile segments." Wouldn't have normally been difficult to finish, but by this point it took all I had just to stay on the bike.

At about mile 77 I decided I was going to stop at a 7-11 to get some hot dogs and Gatorade. Once I left the bike path, I noticed my back tire was a little wider than normal. I stop and notice it's completely flat. I had the stuff to change the tube, but by this point I was too demoralized and cold to have the will-power to change the tube. In a lot of ways, I was glad I flatted, because all I could think about was giving up. I'm not sure how I would have handled 23 more miles of fighting the urge to give up. I walked to the 7-11 where I waited for my wife to pick me up as I ate two hot dogs.

Total miles: 77.49
Riding time: 5:30
Elapsed time: 8:20

I later found out from Colorado State's weather station that the temperature at 8:30 am was 7 degrees, and the high for the day was 15. It snowed lightly a couple of times and the wind was blowing fairly hard for parts of the ride. This was probably the most difficult physical feat I have attempted, just because of the added difficulty of the cold. I learned that maybe, just maybe, I should try to pick a day with more favorable weather instead of settling for looking tough. As it stands, that was my second longest ride, but that small victory feels hollow.

I was planning on making my second attempt for my January century yesterday, but I was not able to. Instead I had to settle for 41 miles before and after my engagement. There are only two more days in January that I do not work - the 24th and 31st. The weather will be beautiful on the 24th, so I have high hopes that it will work out. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey, at least you can say you did a metric century!