Wherein 1 DELmation = 1 road mile in Delaware. The Shorefire Century put on by White Clay Bicycle Club of Middletown.
There will never be a better day to do
this Century than we had yesterday. Wisps of cirrus and a sky full of puffy clouds kept brutal sunshine dimmed much of the day. Temps in the 70’s??? In August??? Unheard of. Nearly no breeze at all, and when there was, at a max of maybe 5 mph. This just doesn’t happen in Delaware in the summer.
Combine all that with pancake flat and smooth roads and it’s not too surprising that I posted my fastest 100+ miles ever. 05:33:34 with and average of 18.2 mph.
There was, however, a price to be paid. I did not start out to set any personal records. I was just riding, but my average kept creeping up, without my seeming to be riding very hard. When it reached 17 mph I thought it’d be nice to finish with that. When it reached 18 mph and I still didn’t think I was working exceptionally hard I thought I might just end up with my fastest century ever. When it reach 18.5 mph, around mile 40, I figured I might as well give it a try.
The problem with flat rides is that you are peddling the entire time. Sure, no hills to climb and tire your legs, but also no hills to descend and let your legs rest and recover either. I haven’t ridden over 50 miles in quite some time and around mile 60 my legs began to let me know. My quads, hamstrings and IT bands began to ache some. I’ve been through this before. It’s uncomfortable but not too bad. By 70 miles it was hurting pretty bad and by 75 miles it hurt to pedal; it was excruciating NOT to pedal and try to stretch out my legs. So what’s going on here? I’m no doctor, and my RV is not a Holiday Inn Express, but I’ve talked to some folks more educated on such matters. Folks such as massage therapists and Physical Therapists who know muscles. Best I can figure, my leg muscles (and probably lower back) when overused, contract to protect themselves, pulling everything really tightly. Pedaling action expands and contracts, keeping them active. When I’d stop pedaling, they would super contract, to the verge of cramping.
So, I kept peddling. I’d given up, after a very stubborn, and actually vocal several miles of argument with myself, of trying to hold on to the 18.5 mph average. The last rest stop was at 83 miles where I did a bit of stretching and felt a bit better back on the bike, at least for a few miles. Despite my painful pistons the last 17 went by much quicker than expected.
Lesson re-learned: it doesn’t matter how benign the course or conditions seem to be. Riding 100 miles is not easy. Not ever! But it’s still fun.