August Century Ride Report

I’m still riding a century per month, even if I’m not good at blogging about doing so. Part of the reason is that I was having trouble getting my Garmin to connect to any computer. It turns out I was using the wrong cord. Not all USB cords are alike, it seems!

Chris and I rode to Baltimore in July. It was incredibly hot and we only committed to a full century at, like, 11 p.m. the night before. Chris wrote his cue sheet the morning of, then left it behind. We forgot sunscreen. My Garmin died at mile 79, around the Greenbelt Metro station. This was also the point at which I slowed down significantly; severe headwinds appeared out of nowhere, we went the wrong way on the Paint Branch Trail through College Park, and I bonked hard in the last five miles. It was not my best day, but I did it.

You can see 80 percent of our ride on Strava. I modified slightly the output from May’s Monument to Monument ride, taking out the BWI loop (the mileage for which is made up for, I think, on the Paint Branch Trail) and simplifying some of the turns.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my right hand and wrist since I began riding my Terry Tailwind, no doubt exacerbated by near-daily hot yoga and the occasional Crossfit WOD. Chris and I had a very nice dinner at Table during which he had to cut my lamb for me, which was embarrassing enough to get me to see an orthopedist. The numbness, immobility, and loss of strength in my fourth and pinky fingers is related to ulnar nerve damage. This sucks—and also makes it very hard to type, which is what I do all day. My orthopedist told me, essentially, to stop riding my bike until my followup appointment in September.

I thought this might derail my plans for a century per month. But a combination of spontaneity and stupidity led me to register for the Cumberland Valley century, which I rode with Ryan and Kevin on Saturday. I got the Serotta in rideable shape with assists from Chris and Justin, registered for the century on Friday, and did my best to drink a lot of water that night.

The ride, which involved a mountain, kicked my ass.  My head started pounding—and I started talking to myself—around mile 70. I rode with a flat and didn’t notice for what Ryan says was about 40 miles (it was probably less, but it was a leak, not a pop, so who knows), which dragged me down in the 80–90-mile span. And, the start location doubled as the lunch rest stop, which made it very, very tempting to quit at mile 64 and call it a metric. My Garmin output says there was over 6,000 feet of climbing. Washington County is beautiful, but no joke.

That said, the weather was as perfect as possible for early August, wind wasn’t an issue, there were beautiful views, and I’m very, very happy that we didn’t bail. This was the most challenging ride I’ve done—maybe ever, maybe since the time I thought I was going to die on a highway in Poland last summer—and it was  rewarding. I got custard at the finish. I drank a showerbeer with such gusto I didn’t take a picture of it. I told a bunch of people I rode my bike up and around a mountain. I passed out on my couch at 8 p.m.

Do as I say, not as I do—though the Serotta was a vast improvement over the Terry, my fingers are clawing again today. But I can endorse the Cumberland Valley Cycling Club and the century, absolutely. We might have confused a few roadies with our Brooks saddles (and with the fact that I rode this in Vans), but the rest stops were well-stocked—with nectarines, which might beat out oranges as my favorite rest-stop snack—the barbecue at lunch was delicious, and some of those downhills were really, really nice.

Strava output here. Props to the other #bikedc riders who tackled centuries this weekend, and thanks to Ryan for getting the Cumberland Valley century on my radar.