This was the out from the balcony of the house where I was staying yesterday just before I started my bike ride. It was a perfect day. Bottom line up front: I finished! This is not something I could have done a year ago, but a year and a half of riding 20 miles a day, 5 days a week, has made a difference.
It was all flat, but it wasn't easy. The first 50 miles couldn't have been more perfect. It was sunny but not too warm. My legs felt great, and I averaged over 13 miles an hour, sometimes going 16-17 mph, which is amazing for me. It was somewhere between 50 and 64 miles that I started to feel it. By the time I got to Assateague Island (about mile 64), I was going pretty slowly (maybe 11 mph or so, less on the bridge), but I thought it was just because I needed a rest stop. Somewhere between 64 and 85, I started wondering if I was going to make it. My shoulders started feeling tight, I was getting saddle sore, and I had to slow down. There was also a headwind. I couldn't wait to get to the rest stop at mile 85. The last 4 miles seemed interminable. I took a little extra time at that stop to just sit, enjoy my snack (apple pie and ice cream!), and stretch. Then I got up to face the last 15 miles.
I'm used to riding in my highest gear, but I found myself downshifting to my middle gear. I started to get tired of the taste of Gatorade. Even without hills, every mile took more effort. About 5 miles from the finish line, it started to rain. I stopped long enough to put on my jacket, and a few minutes later it stopped. It was an awesome feeling coming into the finish line with a crowd cheering. It wasn't a race, but I think it took me about 8.5 hours. Although I was one of the slower riders, I was far from last.
The first thing I did after I met up with my friends and had pictures taken was check into a drugstore for several things I hadn't thought to bring with me from home: some Benadryl and cortisone cream for the bug bites I didn't realize I had gotten (so big and so itchy!), and some heat patches and Advil for my shoulders. I took my foam roller with me, and that was great for stretching out my achy shoulders. As I drifted into sleep, I kept seeing myself on a road, on my bike, with other cyclists all around me. Eventually my mind quieted down. I slept very well, and today I feel great. It really doesn't feel like the day after a hundred mile bike ride, although I might feel differently if I actually had to try sitting on a bike today.
I would definitely do it again. I'm starting a list. Things to definitely take along again next year: arm warmers, sunglasses, camelbak, camera, foam roller, rain jacket, wipes. Things to add or change for next year: bike seat, cycling shorts, insect repellent.
To be continued...