Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's About Time

Finally, the blog you all have been waiting ages all week for! Let me tell you about riding 111 miles last weekend:

The ULCER route starts at Thanksgiving Point, goes south through Lehi and Provo then veers west around the south-most point of Utah Lake. The last leg of it is north, more or less right along the lake, and then back to the Thanksgiving Point.

There were about 2,000 doing the ride so, as I'm sure you can imagine, the start is a little crowded. Everybody bottle-necks though the starting gates; since we were somewhere near the back of the pack, the start of the ride was very "ready, set, stand around for a while until you can actually move." The first thirty miles or so we bikers completely engulfed the road. I feel sorry for anyone trying to drive anywhere along the route at that point. It was actually a little frustrating riding in such a crowd, it makes it hard to get a good stride. At some point Aaron and I managed to get ahead of Dad and then Aaron got sick of the crowd, took off and left me behind.

Dad caught up to me after a while and then we met up with Aaron at the next rest stop. The three of us stayed together pretty well from then on. Occasionally I would fall behind a little, but the boys were super nice and would wait for me when I did.

One thing that can really throw off your groove when doing a ride like this is wind. More specifically, a head wind. That's exactly what we turned south into about 50 miles out. Around Utah Lake the wind can get pretty strong (10 or 15 mph) and it really sucks all the energy out of a person. To make things even more fun, around mile 56 the biggest hill (around 3 miles uphill. yuck) of the ride popped up. We were still riding into the wind. That may have been the only part of the ride that I absolutely did not enjoy.

60 miles is the distance that I tend to run out of energy. Without fail, even on the training rides, around 55 or 60 miles I just crash. The ULCER was no exception. Fortunately it was right about that time that we turned west, so the wind was coming from the side. That didn't really make the it any easier to ride, but the turn meant that the lunch stop (read: really long nice rest) was just 8 mile away. 8 miles is nothing, right.

Aaron said he was about to pass out by the time we got to lunch. The food was good- they had stuff to build your own sandwich: a couple cold cuts, cheese, rolls, sandwich veggies. And lots of chips, cookies, crackers, granola bars, candies, and fruit. Anything a hungry and tired biker could want was there. They even had a Coke truck with soft drinks. I think drinking soda at that point would have killed me. There was also a shuttle at that point for people who decided that they couldn't make it the final 40 miles. Lunch was a very happy occasion.

After lunch Dad got slimed. We rode a block or two and his tire exploded for no obvious reason. He had slime in his tire (green goop stuff that will plug up small punctures so you don't get so many flats) that got all over everything. When he took the tire off to there was a good three inch gash in the tube - not exactly something you can patch. So he put a new tube on, pumped it up, and then we were off again. We had about 5 miles with the yucky wind still to go.

A strong tail wind is as good as a head wind is bad. Once we finally turned north we had the wind at our backs for the last 40 miles. That combined with the fresh energy from lunch made the last leg of the ride extremely possible. The west side of Utah Lake is very sparse vegetation wise and has a lot of little rolling hills. After already riding 70 miles, hills are not fun at all so having the wind pushing us along a little bit was really helpful.

All in all it took 9 1/2 hours to do the whole thing. By the end of the ride there were very few body parts that didn't hurt. My feet felt like I had been standing on them all day. I butt was numb from being on a bike seat all day. My arms and my hands and my shoulders and my back just ached. My right leg and both arms were sunburned. I was totally wiped out. Despite being exhausted for a good portion, I really enjoyed myself though the entire ride (with the small exception of the hill, perhaps). Besides that I was (and still am) really proud of myself for finishing. 111 miles is no small feat. Go me! Kudos to Aaron as well. It was also his first century, so he and I both kick major ass for finishing. Oh, and Dad. It was his second century of the summer, that's hardcore.

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