After a week of recovering from yet another cold, I was finally feeling better this weekend. After Chris's excursion with Dave C out in Yogi-Bear-Land he was actually feeling more like riding than hiking for the first time in a while. So, rather than going for a 14er excursion this weekend, we got back to our roots and hit the road on bike.
This season has been full of firsts for me -- tackling tasks or routes that I once deemed impossible. One of the biggest on that list was completing a road century. We wanted to do it this summer, but the heat was an added complication that I didn't necessarily want to deal with on top of everything else. The weather for Saturday looked perfect, we didn't feel like hiking, and for once I wasn't in the middle of some illness.
We started out shortly before 8 am and Chris wound us up through Boulder to Carter Lake. This is a pretty classic road ride from Boulder, and just happens to be exactly 102 miles round trip from our house. By Boulder standards it's a fairly flat route, although it still had 4300' of climbing or something from home. The route there was beautiful. The weather was chillyish for most of the day, but didn't necessitate anything more than arm warmers all day. We got great views of the mountains to the west and got to ride through some beautiful farmland. We found several houses that we would buy if we suddenly became independently wealthy :)
I did fairly well for the first half of the ride. I was feeling good despite being off the bike for the majority of the month (minus some commutes here and there and some single speed rides which required a lot of walking). It's been a while since I've pedaled for more than two hours straight, so around hour three, my legs were starting to complain. We stopped briefly for a bathroom break and quick snack near Hygiene and were back out on the road. We got near the lake around mile 45 and my right knee started to hurt quite a bit. After downing some advil and more snacks, we wound our way up some switch backs to the beautiful lake. Surrounded by hills and mountainous views, the lake looked serene and I'd love to go back. We stopped near a little store and ate goldfish, M&Ms (THANKS TMOM!), and an apple. I was happy to have made it this far, but I also knew we had to the rest of the loop and then back home the rest of the way. The idea was more than slightly daunting.
I tentatively rode the big descent on the backside of Carter Lake before we turned back and started heading home. The advil had started to kick in so all was good. We stopped for a little break in Hygiene again which was much needed. Every pedal stroke hurt my right knee and by this time I'd already downed four Ibuprofen. Around mile 65, I surpassed my all time farthest bike ride! When we made it back to Boulder, we were hungry, my spirits were dwindling, and I was complete toast on the bike. Chris recognized my downward spiral and lead us directly to a Wendy's. We committed an assault on the 99 cent menu and after some frosty, nuggets, and fries, I was ready to finish off the last 15 miles of my first century. The food was great and the short break felt great. Unfortunately, when I got back on the bike both knees felt terrible... and I still had the hardest part of the whole ride still to go. See, this is an awesome century route, but the crux of it comes in the form of The Wall at mile 96!
Chris told me random stories to keep my mind from my screaming knees and he tried to train my brain into controlling the pain. He's so experienced now and good at keeping his body and emotions in check. I hope to acquire that some day! Before I knew it we were headed up The Hump and then The Wall. The Hump was ok -- it went quick and I was distracted enough to just cruise right up it. The Wall was painful. It's amazing to how extreme concentration and focus can deafen the noise of cars accelerating five feet from you at 45 mph. I stood and pumped up The Wall, trying to convince myself that it didn't hurt. I kept my head down and continually told myself that the road ahead of me was flat... nothing hurts... nothing hurts... nothing hurts. Soon we were to the top!
The best part of the route? After killing yourself up The Wall, the last six miles home is a simple coast back home. The lack of pedaling was like sweet candy to my legs.
By the time we got home, we'd been pedaling for a little over 7.5 hours, and out on the bikes for a little over 8. I spent the rest of the night bitching on the couch while Chris catered to my every need. My knees HURT last night and they are pretty sore today. Other than the joints, I'm feeling remarkably good despite doing my farthest ever ride by almost forty miles.
Thanks to Christopher for putting up with my whining and hooking me up with an extremely fun and beautiful first century!