Today is 19 June. This ride actually took place on 8 June. Yes, I am quite a few days off and have not been blogging as much as I should have. But the past week and more has been phenomenally tiring and I only finally found the time today. To put things in perspective, as of today I have done 5 century-mile days. This blog post is about my first century. From now on, today refers to 8 June.
So if the ride to Pippa Passes was epic, today’s ride to Daniel Boone was absolutely unbelievable. Until now, I still cannot believe I managed to do that ride. Well technically I did not finish the ride. Noone actually did. Due to some confusions with the ride route, the ride ended up being an extra 30 miles, taking it to a 131 mile day. So the 100 mile mark was as far as anyone, including myself got, before we got shuttled.
My ride group for the day was Basit, Rosemary, Nick Pucci, Justin and myself. As a group considered of a faster pace, we were forced to be one of the last groups to leave. (Of course, the mighty Ms were the last to leave). The day started cold, riding in the mist of the clouds, out of Alice Lloyd College and into more forested areas. Essentially, the ride to the first water stop was uneventful. Everyone was doing well.
As we rode, there was a point where we had to stop and re-look at the directions, with the van drivers going ahead to scout the area. Once we found it to be safe it was yet another slow pace riding for us. After a while, I personally got a tad bit bored of the pace and raced forward going through rolling hills at more than 20mph to the water stop, which happened to be along the side of a highway.
Wearing a black jersey today was not the most fantastic idea, because our next 15 miles involved riding along the huge highway under the scorching sun. It was long, hilly and hot. Here is where I realized how underrated water is.
On our way to the next water stop, we stopped at mile 60 where we were to have lunch. Except, lunch was yet to arrive. The delivery from Applebees was taking a little bit longer than expected. So we decided, since we were already short of time, with so many more miles to finish, we should probably go an extra 10 miles. And what a good decision it was, because everyone went into a food coma. EVERYONE was sleeping. It was an extremely hot and tiring day. We knew we were going to be shuttled at the end of the day. It was siesta afternoon nap time. There was simply little motivation to ride.
At this time, we debated if we should even continue riding given that we were going to be shuttled anyway. But this was going to be our first century. We had to do it. So finally after an hour or two, we pushed on. Immediately from our lunch stop, we were faced with a mountain. Apparently, the plenty of hills earlier today were not enough. I did possibly the slowest climb I have ever done. After quite some time, I found everyone else in my team waiting for me at the top, as I laughed my way up to the top, laughing at how slowly I was going.
I did have an opportunity to make up for it though. As we went downhill this mountain and reached the bottom, we had the shock of our lives as we immediately, without any slight notice, ran into a second mountain climb. This time, I pushed hard to the top trying to redeem myself. On our second downhill though, we came across an ice cream shop! So we stopped at this dairy bar, having ice cream, and once again discussed the need to push further if we were to be shuttled at the end anyway. There was one other consideration too. We had just climbed 2 mountains, and after this next downhill, we were going to climb a third!
We pushed on. Again. It is noteworthy that in the middle of this third mountain climb there was a huge dog barking at us. Fortunately it was leashed. If it was not, there would probably have been no way for me to outrun a dog on a mountain climb, after climbing 2 right before.
We continued pushing on. Mile by mile, we endured all sorts of physical pains to find ourselves going through climb after climb, hill after hill, mountain after mountain, all knowing that we were not going to reach our shelter or food at the end of it anyway. It was easily a mentally straining day for all of us.
Finally, around 8.30pm or so, we 5 reached a small town called Boonesville, where we were told to stop biking any further as it was getting dark. We had just rode 96 miles. There was no way we were pushing so hard the entire day to fall short of a century by a few miles. So we found a highway nearby, and like excited amateur cyclists, biked up and down continuously until we finally achieved our first century!! It was an absolutely amazing feeling and we knew we had worked hard for it. At the end of the day, only 9 people had achieved the century: us 5 plus Megan, Zach, Jessica and Illana.
During one of our crazy back and forth rides, we came across a couple, who were riding cross country themselves. They apparently were staying at a church in Boonesville, which had volunteered with the American Cycling Association to be a host for any cross-country cyclists. The biggest deal was the fact that they had showers, something that the campground in Daniel Boone was not able to provide tonight. As people who had ridden a century today, we took the liberty to give ourselves a shower at this church in Boonesville itself! After everything was over, we finally left Boonesville in the shuttle van close to midnight, and only arrived at the campsite at 2 am.
It was an extremely tiring day to say the least but extremely accomplishing as well. At a time when we could have easily given up, we pushed ourselves beyond our mental and physical boundaries to achieve what has easily become a day to remember.
A few days ago, a rider in another biking group called Bike and Build was involved in a car accident. I would like to dedicate my ride today to her and her family. Being in almost the exact similar cross-country biking experience, this especially spoke to many of us of the dangers of biking and made us re-look our safety procedures. I hope biking can be a safe activity for anyone no matter where in the world.