Sunday, January 1, 2012

Remember when riding 100 miles was a scary thought?


These are the numbers I wore during the first century I ever completed, way back in 2005. Crazy, right? I remember being supremely intimidated by the thought of riding a hundred miles in one day. There couldn't be anything harder than that, could there? Alex and I "trained" for the ride all summer. We set out that morning with droves of other cyclists, all nervousness and excitement.

A lot has changed in the years since. Cycling in San Francisco has changed my perspective. Everyone here is fast or faster. Everyone here rides a nice bike, has a Garmin, races up hills for PRs on Strava. Our rides here are long, hard, and fun.

Riding a hundred miles has gone from a monument of pain and suffering to, well, just a long ride. Climbing a mountain has gone from an epic adventure to just the best way to get a good angle on the sunrise over the San Francisco Bay. The aforementioned pain and suffering are no longer intimidating, unwelcome strangers; now they're old, welcome friends. Setting out for a hundred-mile ride is nothing more than a morning (and a bit of an afternoon) shooting the breeze with two of my best buds.

Two nights ago, I decided I'd celebrate the final day of the year with my longest ride of the year. That'd mean I'd have to ride 125 miles the next day. Six years ago, this would have seemed unfathomable. Even two or three years ago, I doubt I would've been comfortable committing to an eight-hour day. But on Friday, despite having only just returned from a ten-day vacation the night before, I pre-mixed my water bottle, pumped up my tires and set out a few extra Clif bars. And on Saturday morning, I woke up, packed those extra Clif bars away and hit the road. Simple as that.

The ride itself wasn't bad. I rode to Point Reyes via Marshall, climbing Marshall Wall from the east. From there, I turned around and retraced my steps, climbing Marshall Wall again from the west. (For the record, climbing the Wall from the west is a lot harder than from the east, especially when you're dealing with a headwind.)

It was a bit chilly. There seemed to be a lot of wind in all of the wrong places. I was definitely a bit worse-for-wear thanks to the week off I'd just returned from. But... you just keep pedaling. You spend some time with pain. You catch up with suffering. Slow and steady. The miles disappear. And then you're done, and fitter for it. And then you eat a lot of food. No big deal, really!

Sunrise from the start of yesterday's 200K.
Disclaimer: I now reserve "intimidating ride status" for double-centuries. Eek. You double-century people are crazy. Maybe one of these days I'll work up the courage to scratch one of those off of my bucket list.