Return to the Century

It’s hard to believe that this Saturday will be my first century of the year. Last year I had already ridden 5 centuries by this point, and numerous other difficult climbing rides. My last century was two seasons ago, the Six Gap Century. Last year this would have been just another ride, but this year it means a lot more to me.

While I haven’t ridden close to this volume in awhile, I’m not worried. The last few weeks have been solid. Mileage has increased gradually, but more importantly, the fitness is starting to catch up. The best sign was last Thursday’s group ride. Somehow I found myself in the large front group, with maybe 20 people (not counting the 3-4 superbeasts that dusted everybody). I had to fight to keep up, but I managed to finish with the group at a 20.4 average. Even though I didn’t take a single pull and felt wrecked afterward, my pride was high. The fact that I could hang on speaks volumes.

This Saturday is the Tour de Cure. In all honesty, based on the fitness gains recently, I have been capable of riding a century for a few weeks now. I wanted to wait for this one because it’s a cause that I’ve been fundraising for. From what I can tell, it should be festive and fun, and extremely well organized. Sounds like a good first century to me.

Barring misfortune, I should have no problem riding 100 miles. The question is how fast I should go. I know some of the attendees will be pushing the pedal to the metal. It’ll be tempting to try to ride along with them, but that probably won’t be a smart game for me to play. I’ll find my pace and hopefully a few companions at a similar pace.

After that, my riding season really kicks off. I have another century ride the following weekend, then a taper, then Mount Mitchell. These next two centuries will determine whether I can conquer Mitchell. I’m optimistic, but don’t want to underestimate the toughest ride in the Southeast.

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