What was I thinking?!? kept coming to mind. I was staring up yet another climb on my ride of the Marin Century, a 100-mile bike ride through Marin County in the Bay Area of California. One of the premier centuries in the area, the ride goes through pleasant valleys, redwood forests, and even spends a few miles on Highway 1 on the California coast. I had registered for it a couple of months earlier to give me a goal for my summer cycling activities, but I was now having second thoughts as to my sanity in doing so.
The day started out pleasantly enough. After an early morning drive up the peninsula and across the Golden Gate Bridge, I was off to a chilly start on would would prove to be a remarkable day. I rarely ride with others, so group starts are somewhat of a treat, and I also enjoyed the support provided by the Highway Patrol as we made our way out of town. The group thinned quite a bit, but through the course of the entire ride, I never lost site of the rider in front of me.
The course profile was about as flat as a line our 2-year-old daughter would draw, and I paid for it dearly. I've done a few other centuries, but they were much flatter, and my lack of preparation for this one showed. The first couple climbs were challenging, but doable. By the time I hit the "Marshall Wall" a third of the way through the ride, I was starting to feel a bit sore. I was only a third of the way into the ride, but already thinking of the SAG wagon. I survived, thanks to my triple crankset and granny gear, with whom I became quite good friends over the rest of the course. Even the "flat" parts of the route were full of rollers, little hills which seem innocent until repeated ad nauseam.
The wind was another factor. No matter which direction I was going, there always seemed to be a headwind. Riding toward the coast and up Highway 1 I kind of expected it, but even after the turnaround point at Valley Ford we still had headwinds. Because I wasn't drafting anybody, I had the benefit of fighting the wind the entire time. At the end of the day, I was glad to finally roll into the finish and enjoy the prepared food. Cycling is a great teacher, especially about physiology: I hurt places I never knew I had before!
In spite of all the difficulties (and post-ride soreness!), I really did enjoy myself. The views from some of the roads were amazing, the rest stops fantastically stocked, and the descents swift and energizing. My bike worked wonderfully, and I only fell over once (a sudden stop, and I forgot to clip out of the pedals). On more than one occasion, I felt like I was in the Tour de France, zipping though forests and past farms and cows, though at a slightly slower pace.
So, what's next? Transportation and other issues will probably force me to abandon an attempt to ride the Santa Cruz brevet in a couple of weeks, but I'd like to shoot for another century a little closer to home in October. With the new baby coming, school starting up, and life getting hectic again, it may be a long shot.
4 years ago