The Peninsula Century Fall Challenge vaulted in to my top 3 before I ever even took a pedal stroke EARLY Saturday
morning. Door County, Wisconsin is just supremely beautiful. Of course, perfect weather I’m sure is helping that personal assessment and ride day was no exception.
First off, I took the short drive from Egg Harbor to Sister Bay on Friday evening to pick up my ride packet. Many thanks to Marketing Director Myles, who enthusiastically allowed me to leave a stack of my “business” cards about this website on the gear sales table.
0700 (I don’t care if I’m retired, I’m sticking with military time; it’s easier. If I could I would switch to the metric system too.) came pretty early. It was astonishingly warm, near 60 degrees. Not even arm warmers required to start. No hint of a breeze either, though that would change.
It’s only been 3 weeks since my Delaware century and if you read that story you know I had something of a rough finish. I’ve done some riding in the interim, but not enough to garner any additional conditioning so my plan to avoid a repeat was to NOT go balls-to-the-wall. Spoiler alert, it worked phenomenally.
Myles fired off that airhorn exactly at 0700 (that’s 7 am for you time challenged types) and off we went into the rising Wisconsin sun. I LOVE IT when a ride starts on time.
Many of these rides, while not a competition overall, will have a few timed sections with prizes for the winners. These are almost always timed climbs or King of the Mountain (KOM) challenges. I don’t usually participate because while I climb well, I don’t do it quickly. I set my steady pace and I crank away and I get to the top. Two things enticed me here though. First, while this is not a flat ride by any means, the hills are short. Second, and this is another great thing about this ride….. they broke it up in to age groups. I also figured this would help me keep my overall ride pace in check. It’s easier to remind myself to back off the throttle when I’m doing it because I know I’m saving my legs for a timed climb section. There were three KOM climbs, at miles 7, 31 and….ugh…93. Two were about 1.3 miles in length and the middle climb, “Door County’s most brutal climb” was .7 mile in length, though it did reach double digits grade for a bit. Another spoiler alert…. I didn’t win my age group. In fact, as with nearly any “timed” challenge or race I do, regardless of sport, activity, etc., I was middle of the pack. They were fun though. Well, except that last one. After 93
miles, it’s tough enough, but then the road was freshly chip sealed, and let me tell you, they are serious about there chip seal here in Wisconsin. Oh yeah, and remember that wind that was non-existent at the start? It showed up late morning, out of the south, and by afternoon it was probably 10-12 mph, straight in to your face to climb up that last one. Rough, vibrating road surface, uphill, into a solid wind, after 93 miles! 😳
Tough KOM Challenge notwithstanding, there is not a foot of this 100 miles that isn’t beautiful. I could have filled this entire page with pics of bucolic rolling farmland, stunning lake views, quaint harbor towns and even a camel. Ok, I’ll show you the one with the camel. Of course, just as I took the picture he tucked his head, so it doesn’t even really look like a camel (the camel colored thing, not the green thing), but it is. Promise. Camels in NY, camels in WI……WTF???
Another fab feature of this ride is not only the number of rest stops (6 on the 100 mile course) but also the fact that they each featured some specialty food from local establishments. Locally grown fruit, potatoes, fresh sandwiches, BRATS. Yeah, the brats were my favorite. That stop was only a mile before the 2nd KOM climb and not wanting to puke it all up, I packed up some brat and pretzels, jammed then in my pocket and thoroughly enjoyed them after my heart rate returned to something resembling normal, AFTER the climb.
As I mentioned earlier, my real goal on this ride was to NOT be in excruciating pain at the finish, and I was really happy with the way I rode. I felt great at the end; maybe as good as I’ve ever felt at the end of any century. My average speed, 16.8 mph, was quite a bit higher than I was expecting, though that lovely south wind had much to do with it. It really started to pick up just as we turned northbound for that 40-ish miles.
I can’t say enough good things about this ride. I loved it! I highly recommend it, or their sister ride, the Peninsula Century Spring Classic.
Click on the text below to see the super cool video.