Friday, July 25, 2008

Season's First Century

So, yesterday I rode my first "century" ride of the season.

Pretty late, this year. I did do an 80-miler a month or so ago; and I've done my 65 mile bread-and-butter route a bunch. And all of those exceed the "metric century" distance, which is just over 60 miles. (I've actually been thinking of these non-metric centuries as "imperial 161s," although I don't think that's accurate).

I did the same loop I've done on most of my recent imperial 161s, er, century rides; the 'dawhead special,' which means that I take the Schuylkill River Trail out to Valley Forge, then stay on roads in a big loop that goes out to French Creek St. Park and back. It's beautiful riding, most of it relatively car free, some of it completely car free.

It's not flat. It's not Vermont, but it's not flat.

I do think I did better this time than the last time, even though the last time I only did 70-80 miles of it, having driven out to Valley Forge and parked there. I tried to take it easy on the first 50 and then go hard coming back. And in general I was feeling good coming back, and even was kicking some butt on the return leg of the SRT. But then somewhere it kinda started to unravel a bit. Not completely, but a bit. I had the strength to go up Barren Hill ok, but that last stretch up Germantown, my left knee was hurting every time I pushed down.

It feels better now, though. And I did make it home ok.

Normally, the biggest difference for me between long rides and really long rides isn't the conditioning, or the leg strength. It's the 'little things' – a shoe that basically fits is fine for a 50-mile ride, but not for an imperial 161. Seams on gloves start to really chafe. And yeah, there's the whole butt/taint thing. So I was surprised this time that it really was my legs that were hurting at the end.

I'd like to get out there more often, but it really is a big chunk of time. I'm getting to know the route pretty well. At some point I'll start experimenting more out there, trying to find new roads and what not, but for now I'd just be happy being able to do this same route once or twice a month.

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