This year marked the 25th year I’ve done my Sept Century and much was different. Lets discuss.
To begin, this was the first year with my new bike. It’s a Focus Cayo and is a huge improvement over my 22+ yr old Trek 2100. One of the biggest things is the gearing on the bike. My old bike ran a 53 – 39 with 13-25 in the rear. The Focus has a 50 – 34, strangely called a compact crank even though the crank length hasn’t changed just the gear ratio, and I believe a 13-27 in the back. So right off the bat, I can now spin up hills which I was grinding before. I’m getting older ya know. The frame is also much better at transferring the pressure I apply to the pedals into forward motion instead of wasting it.
The way I road the century and said hills was different as well. In previous years I would really push up the hills because I thought I was making up alot of time. Why would I think this? Because the fastest way to create a gap on someone you are “racing” is on the hills. If you accelerate they pretty much have to match your power to stay with you. There is some help to be gained by following someone up by way of pacing and maybe some hiding from the wind but in the end, it’s pretty equal terms. Unlike the flats and downhills where drafting plays a huge part and getting away is not easier. So this year I decided to take the hills a bit more casual as a way to even out the effort level and it really worked. Ironically I was still passing a good number of people but I wasn’t so gassed by the time I reached the top. Simply put, smarter riding. Funny only took 25 yrs to figure that out.
Because of the above a funny thing happened around the 85-90 mile. For whatever reason a riding buddy of mine, that I caught during the final 30 mi leg (I accept blame as well), decided it would be a great idea to hold 20-23mph for a while. He blamed me for pushing him and I blamed him for doing it first. By the 95 mil mark we both wished we hadn’t done that but still couldn’t stop from laughing at the absurdity of it all. To put this little event in context, I ended up averaging 17.2.
Next up, cars and their drivers. This year I got to witness first hand the reaction of a very well to do young man having to deal with cyclists and tons of them. No one was in his way but his rather pricy Mercedes was no longer the king of the road and you could tell he didn’t like it one bit. You’ve spent all this money on this really nice car, roads which are normally yours to travel as you like are now under the control of someone else and there is nothing you can really do to change anything. The guy rolled down a window and asked if he could be let through which a cyclist in front of me answered perfectly, “Sure, the minute it’s safe to do so.” Most “car drivers” feel they are close to the top of the food chain when it comes to roads. To have that power taken away, legally, and to actually be forced to -Share the Road – is just not something some motorists cannot handle. Lets hope they learn.
Which brings us to our most important part, how I actually did. Without dragging this out, 5:45 riding time for an avg of 17.2. That’s right, I met my goal of keeping my riding time under 6hrs. Other then some slight cramping, probably caused by The Big Push with my friend, the legs really responded well. Which is surprising given how poor this season started. My mileage was lower then normal this year because our harsh winter caused most riders to start their road training much later. But I think my off season lifting really paid off. This may sounds strange but I fell in love with the dead lift, among other things, and just keep getting stronger. Obviously I will try to repeat my lifting efforts in hopes of getting stronger.
Well that’ all for now. The last two years did not go well so it’s great to be talking about keeping it under 6hrs because eventually my age will become the greater limiter. But until then, “Train Hard but Rest even harder.” Joe Friel.