A century bike ride is, by definition, 100-miles long. So imagine our confusion when Brian Farrell and I -- minus Bob "I didn't sleep well" Untiedt -- arrived for today's Swine Trek and discovered the "century" only added up to 94 miles.
I'm not sure if the 25- and 50-mile routes added up to the correct distance, but I signed up for the century and I was going to ride 100-miles if it killed me, which it nearly did.
We made good time and were riding strong for the first 50 miles, which we covered in four hours, including refueling stops. The final 50 were about 30 miles too many, for me, and took nearly five hours. It was every bit as hot, hilly and windy as anything I experienced on RAGBRAI this year, only worse.
On the 22-mile segment from Quasqueton to Troy Mills, we added four miles by adding Coggon to the route. The seven-mile ride from Coggon to Troy Mills was nothing short of brutal. Between the heat, crosswinds and hills that had me shifting to my granny gear, I contemplated quitting. When my legs and hips began cramping -- a result of inadequate training (I'd only ridden 92.6 miles on five training rides since RAGBRAI), insufficient sleep (I'm end zone videographer for the Washington High School varsity football team and didn't get home from Cedar Falls until 12:30 a.m.) and improper hydration (though I didn't anticipate the lack of options the last half of the day) -- I pictured myself unable to release my shoes from the clips and tumbling to the pavement.
By the time we reached Troy Mills, we'd logged 77 miles. I consumed a dill pickle in hopes of warding off the cramps and a half-frozen ice cream bar. The stop was out of water and Gatorade, so I headed across the street to the gas station for a Monster energy drink and a water.
Brian was increasingly pushing ahead of me at this point and was a much stronger rider than me. He kept stopping to let me catch up, which was most generous considering we were at risk of missing out on the chicken dinner (chicken for something called Swine Trek?) awaiting at the finish.
On mile 86, my IPod player died, leaving me alone with my thoughts. This is a scary situation. I began cramping at even the slightest of inclines, which fortunately began easing on the way to Center Point. From there to Pleasant Creek Park was nine, mostly flat miles, though a steep hill to the park entrance awaited. I gave Brian my car keys fearing I wouldn't make it so he could come rescue me.
But I granny geared that last hill and we made it to the park at 3:45, still in time for the chicken dinner, but with only 98 miles on the odometer. After feasting and enjoying time off of our bicycle seats, we still had two miles to complete before we could cross a century off our bucket lists.
Eight laps around the parking lot and we hit the magic number. That 100 miles was a personal best by 14.5 miles dating back to the grueling 85.5-mile RAGBRAI journey from Sheldon to Estherville in 2005. If memory serves, a thunderstorm-induced sleepless night was followed by a day that included biking in a hailstorm. Today was also a personal "best" by six minutes over that day for time in the saddle -- 7:23:03.
Most significantly to me, I've now logged 1022.8 miles on the year, topping the 932.8 miles from 2005, when I caught this biking bug. My Giant OCR3 has now accumulated 3,109 miles in four years, for an average of 777 per (which says a little something about 2006 and 2007).
My point of all this? Bucket lists are overrated, and so are centuries.