New Haven CenturyJune 30, 2008
After seriously stressing about my IT band (see previous post), and nursing it for 48 hours straight with heavy duty Epsom salt baths, foam rolling and stretching, I was actually able to walk normally again and felt comfortable going for my longest ride ever down in Connecticut.
I headed down to CT to spend the night on my sister’s couch late on Friday night to get ready for the ride. The New Haven Century is put on by a local cycling advocacy group, is completely free (my favorite price) and is wicked informal. I could have ridden right past the registration table if I wasn’t paying enough attention. It was just a group of a few dozen riders (since there was no official start time, people came and went as they pleased throughout the morning) a tent and a van with supplies.
Just show up, sign a waiver, pick up a course map, and you are on your way. No starting gun, no pre-race butterflies, nothing. It was a pretty odd experience.
I met up with Cara, from the InTransit Duo Podcast, and a few of her teammates and eventually headed out on the ride. While I had spent most of my life in Connecticut, I had never been to most of these towns before, so it was pretty cool exploring a whole new part of the state.
For a free ride, the course was really well marked and supplied. Sure, there was one turn that wasn’t marked and added another 6 miles on to the ride, and all the water at the rest stops was warm, but you can’t realy argue too much. You get what you pay for.
Overall the course was really nice. It kept us off of high traffic areas for almost the whole +100 miles, avoided any major hills (which made it a really nice first century), and went along some really beautiful country roads.
At around mile 60 when my pace started to fade a little, I ended up spending most of the ride with this French guy named Julian. He practically rode half of the course without his hands and kept pulling a big block of Belgian chocolate out of his equally huge backpack, chomping a big chunk off, and offering some to me. He was such a character with some funny stories and his views on American culture and his accent made just about everything he said hilarious to me.
A Frenchie commenting on the beauty of the Connecticut country side just sounds funny to me.
Equally hilarious, trying to explain to a European the difference between a camp site with trailers and a trailer park like he sees on My Name Is Earl.
After getting lost all by myself with about 5 miles to go, I finally made it back to the New Haven green and passed out on the grass with Cara. While my pace definitely took a dive during the last 20 miles or so, I never was at a point where I didn’t think that I would be able to finish the ride, which was a huge confidence boost.
Confident, but still very sore, cranky, sore all over, and covered in salt, dirt and bike grease.
After resting up, taking in some more cold water and stretching I was doing a whole lot better. Here is Cara and I after the ride, in much better spirits than even 5 minutes earlier.
My longest ride before this was 68 miles at my team’s training weekend earlier this year. This century ended up being 111 with getting a little lost twice, plus 15 extra miles riding to and from the race start. That is 126 miles! Holy crap! After going that far and being that tired, I have a new found respect for people that do Ironmans. There is no way I could even walk a marathon after that.
Definitely a fun ride, and the beers that night tasted extra delicous.
Now if I can just figure out how to get my running back where it should be….