Due to the 9am start time, I didn't have to leave the house super early, on the other hand, I wished that the 100-miler people would have been on the course earlier, since you'll be out there for a long time. The package pickup was at St. John's Lutheran Church, where they served breakfast for the riders. It also meant real bathrooms... Double score in my eyes.
I have a hard time estimating, how many riders were out there, but I would say it was around 150 people. Later somebody told me, that around 20 out of that did the 100 mile route.
After some general instruction and a prayer for safety on the road, we were off.
None of my trainer partners did this ride, so I was on my own and I was worried to be riding 100 miles alone. Fortunately, I was able to ride with a group of women, basically right from the start. Unfortunately, out of that group, only three of us did the 100 miler, but we started working together and eventually caught two men. I stayed in this group until we hit the major climb around mile 42.
The advantage of riding in the group was, that I was able to conserve energy and the time flew by with the general chit chat. Also, all of the others did Mitchell in the past, so I was able to pick their brains a little about the ride in general. I don't think, I have ever ridden 42 miles this fast, especially in rolling terrain and I was wondering, if I am going to pay for it later. While the stiff pace probably didn't help, what certainly hurt me more in the later miles, was that I completely under fueled in first half... 300 calories is not enough. Duh! But I was so concerned about sticking to the group, that I neglected my nutrition.
By the time I reached the Wigington Overlook (highest point of the route), my legs felt like lead and my stomach was in knots. Certainly, the 14% grade up to that overlook had something to do with it too, but the under-fueling just left me feel weak. By that time, the group broke apart anyways, so I kept plucking along on my own pace and trying to catch up on my eating.
|from the Issaqueena's Last Ride FB page|
By the time, I hit the rest stop at mile 71, things started to feel a little better and by the last rest stop at mile 80, I almost felt back to normal. Speaking of the rest stops, thanks to all the volunteers out there for hours and hours to keep us fed and hydrated... It was kind of funny to be the one telling the volunteers, that they can pack up, because I am the last one. The only thing, that didn't work out, was the rest stop at mile 37 wasn't there. People said different things about it: that they got lost, they packed up early etc... I don't know what happened, but the fact was, that one of the rest stops wasn't there. Fortunately, I was riding with four bottles, so I was fine. The SAG truck didn't have any water on him, but later was able to organize a cooler, so they tried their best, to fix the situation asap.
It was maybe around 4.15pm by the time, I pulled into the parking lot in Walhalla again. That means, I was on the road for a little over 7 hours with around 6:40 hours pure riding time for 96.5 miles (according to my Garmin, the course was a little short). That was close to a 14.5 mph average for a century ride in the mountains.... I am happy with that!
Mitchell, here I come... Just 8 more days to got... Time to start stalking the weather forecast! ;-)