I rode in my first organized road ride in 2008 when I was living in Virginia Beach, VA. That year was really the beginning of my serious riding life since I’d become friends with Christina, her husband Chris, and our mutual friend Mark, all of whom are riders as well. So, you can blame them.
I completed my very first full Century Ride in 2009. It was the “Horrible Hundred” in Clermont, FL. A Century is a non-competitive ride of approximately 100 miles. I’ve seen distances anywhere from about 97 to 108 miles, but you get the idea. Prior to that I’d ridden the shorter distances always offered at these events, usually the Metric Century, which is an impressive European way of saying, 66-ish miles. That “Horrible Hundred” was…..well it wasn’t horrible, but it was very challenging, going over the 7 largest “hills” in the state. You don’t think of Florida as having hills but trust me when I tell you that central Florida has got them and some of them are a difficult climb. I did that with my brother, we had a great time and I’d caught the distance riding bug.
With the exception of the year I was hard down with a herniated disc in my neck and recovering from the surgery to alleviate that, I’ve ridden at least one of these every year. And somewhere along the way this idea sprung in to my head that it would be cool to do one of these in every state. Nah…..that’s just crazy, or is it?
Now I may very well be crazy, but last year I actually committed myself to riding an organized Century or Gran Fondo in each of the 50 states. By-the-way, for the purposes of this blog, a Century and Gran Fondo can be considered the same. I’ll expound on the differences some other time soon. It’s not really important that at the moment, I’ve only committed myself to myself. I’m hoping and researching the possibility of doing this to benefit others, but I’ve got some more work to do on that aspect. Right now I’m just doing it because I believe it’s a worthy goal to attempt.
I’ve spent some time Googling and Binging and put together a list of a few rides in each state that are candidates for my participation. That actually wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Places like California and Texas have dozens of these rides through much of the year. Alaska….not so much. And I did have some actual criteria for rides I would consider:
– It has to be a full Century or Gran Fondo. 100 miles, or very close to it.
– I want a loop route. I don’t much care to ride back on the roads I’ve already ridden so an out-and-in, or a small loop that you have to repeat do not appeal to me. Except for Alaska where there was only 1 ride I could find and hell, it’s Alaska. I’ll see the same scenery twice there.
– Though most of these rides benefit a charity with the entry fees, I wanted to stay away from what I’ll call the more “commercial, big charity” rides like MS Ride and Team In Training events. I prefer the smaller rides.
– The route needs to stay entirely within the borders of the state I’m counting the ride for. The only places this is not possible are Rhode Island and possibly Delaware.
So I have my list, and I’ve begun. This is not a short term project. I figure, with commitment, I can average 5 or 6 rides per year. Hey, I do still have a life, and more importantly a job. Plus, because the riding season is constrained by weather, there are only a few months in which they are scheduled and it would be difficult to get to more than that many events per year, especially out west.
To date I have ridden 7 rides. Unfortunately I’ve done the same rides more than once and in the same states so I only have 2 states complete:
– Florida (Horrible Hundred)
– Maryland (Seagull Century; Civil War Century; Two Rivers Ride)
I don’t even have my home state of Virginia checked off yet. However, within a month I’ll have two more, adding New Hampshire and New Jersey (my “home” state where I grew up) very soon.
You’ll surely see more posts about these as I check them off my list. If you discover we are riding in the same event, be sure to say hello.