I saw a post today from a lady in Sacramento who finished a Century ride on Saturday. Now with this Facebook page, that is a common occurrence, it has about 3000 + riders who love to share pictures, encouragement and achievements. We cyclists are just darn nice people!
What made this stand out was she had issues with leg cramps at 85 miles, and wasn’t sure she’d finish. But she dug deep, overcame the pain, and cross the finish line! (Cue crowd roar!)
In reading her post, it triggered memories of quite a few of my rides over the last few years. All of the ones that came to mind we ones where I struggled hard and, yep, even though about giving up…
No matter what it is: kisses, breakups or century rides, its easy to remember the first time. My first century was May of 2008 and I rode 3 miles PAST the finish just to see the odometer read a full 100 miles.
But aside from the extra 3 miles, I honestly don’t remember anything about that ride, it honestly wasn’t that hard. The same goes with the Seattle to Portland a little over a month later. I remember a long hill at the end, and getting lucky enough to find a hotel at the overnight part, but truly, not much else of the ride stands out.
However! In September I rode the Oregon.coast. I loved that ride, and will do it again! But, without a doubt, the most memorable day of that trip was the day I got lost and ran short of water. All in the effort to see a tiny little light house. (shown here from my trip this last summer)
On this day, I took the scenic 3 capes route. The route started with the very first hill I couldn’t complete in one climb. I had only been riding for a year, had not trained on a lot of hills, and this thing climbed for MILES! Add to it there was no shoulder and no less than 5 huge winnebagos (ALL driven by old men with hats!) that passed me WAY too closely. Once I got to a wide part of the road I stopped, had lunch and drank a full bottle.
This whole trip I had passed convince stores every 3 miles, so I didn’t think twice about draining a bottle. (NEVER again)
I saw the light house and headed out. Somehow I missed a turn, then when trying to back track, missed another, and I had NO idea where I was. I finally made it to a beach road, put the Ocean on the right (so my nose pointed south) and kept going.
By that time, it was close to 80 degrees, and I was dry as a tater chip. No liquid left. It took me 20 miles to get to Pacific City, and a grocery store. I was so focused on Gatorade that I never saw this view behind me.
Editors note: 5 years later at the end of the Reach the Beach, I was leaving the finish line. I looked up and saw the store that saved the day! I laughed for quite q while after realizing I had missed one of the prettiest parts of the ocean that day!
The thing is, after that drink, I still had 20 miles and serious hills left before night fall! I never thought about quitting, as there was no one to come get me. But DAMN, I just might’ve taken a ride in a pickup if some cowboy or cowgirl offered! What should have been about 60 miles, ended up being 85! I remember that entire day, especially the beer and burger at the end!
The RSVP, the next year (Ride Seattle to Vancouver BC and Party) had rain, headwinds and Chuckanut drive! A very long, windy and STEEP climb from Mt Vernon on the way to Bellingham. This may have been the first time I considered not finishing. I knew somewhere behind me was a van for those who needed to stop, but I’m stubborn. I made it!
That night, I had Mexican food, and fell asleep at 6. Michelle said I farted half the night away in my sleep, but the next morning I was ready to go! The rest of the ride, was pretty easy, and honestly I don’t remember much.
The Highpass challenge was a BIATCH! Back then, it was a 108 mile ride, and if you didn’t finish in 10 hours, there was no medal. Seems Easy except it had 20 miles uphill to Windy Ridge on Mt St Helens.
Then you turned around a raced down. I had to talk to myself the whole way up that damn hill. In the heat, convincing myself to keep going. The turn around is reached after a 1/2 mile downhill, which means it’s a 1/2 mile UPHILL to start back. Even bombing down the long decline, my legs were fried!
I looked at the odometer and the time, and my fuzzy brain figured out I had just over an hour for 15 miles. (trust me I almost needed a calculator). Well I dug out something, from somewhere, and damned if I didn’t make it!
Sitting here, I do not remember any other rides that year, but every mile of this one is etched!
I won’t recap The Crater Lake Century again.
Except to say in the 90+ degree heat. I stopped, sat on a wall and gave serious pondering to flagging down a car. NOBODY would have faulted me. After 15 minutes, I got up, did my best wookie yell stretch, and saddled up. Not even having to carry the bike for half a mile at the end stopped me after that. But damn I will never forget that ride!
The LAST (EVER) one day STP, I actually called Michelle to say I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. 97 degrees, and 175 miles in a day had taken its toll! My lovely wife channeled my late Drill Sargent dad and got my ass moving the last 25 miles!
This one is baked into my head! I sometimes twitch as we drive past certain towns going to Portland with memories of this ride!
And of course the RAMROD
13 hours of climbing and bombing down hills, with the most beautiful mountain in the world to inspire me. I never considered quitting, but if you ever want to buy me a beer and have me tell you in excruciating detail about every stinkin inch, I’d be happy to do so!
Ladies and gents, I’ve traveled close to 21000 miles over the last almost 8 years, but of all the rides, the ones listed here were without a doubt the hardest, the most memorable, and though maybe not the most fun, the ones I am most happy to have done!
Hope y’all don’t think I was bragging, but I am curious, am I the only one that thinks the hardest ones are the most memorable?
I pity the future grandkids. Someday I can seen them telling Manchild and Mathmajor, “PLEASE don’t make us visit grandpa again!! He’s going to make us listen to cycling stories again!!”
Hi kids! Did I ever tell you about the time I rode the RAMROD……