A century bike ride is similar in many ways to a magic trick. There is an expectation of amazement, some preliminary feats in the set up and a well rehearsed grand finale leaving everybody in awe and bewilderment…did it really happen!
Well, the expectation of amazement is there not just with my friends and family but certainly with me. The longest ride I had done about 3 months ago was 30 miles and that too was on a hybrid. Now I am planning on punishing my body for a grueling 5-8 hours in the heat, sweating out over 6,000 calories. While others in the zip code are sampling Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, I will be sucking on salt tablets and inhaling products called “gu” and “gel blasts”, not to mention eating my lunch while on top of a saddle that is about 130 mm at its widest point. The expectation of getting thru the day is certainly a questionable amazement to me.
The fun is all in the prep work and here is a sampling of the mini feats for me:
1. Recently acquired a decent ride for $2,500. Spanish made beauty. An all carbon black and white Orbea Onix that has Ultegra components. Like all Apple products, you pay for fewer moving parts, lightness and sturdiness…and you can get a million apps for it.
2. Lost over 25 lbs in preparation. I know I probably had a lot of weight to loose, but still, a 25 lb drop is a notable feat
3. Getting to a point where a 25 mile ride is considered a good warm-up…yes it does happen
As for the specific training, I followed a 12-week program which involved one long ride (stating with 30 and building up to 80 miles) complemented with 2 short (15-25 mile) rides each week. On the long ride, I focused on keeping a consistent and low heart rate with an average between 140-145. Anything above a 160 on my HRM was considered a red card. On the short rides I tried to do hill training and all out speed, just to build the strength and the anaerobic capacity (hotly debated with endurance athletes, more on this later). I also kept up with my swimming and yoga each week to keep the balance and flexibility and to prevent injury. I have also become an avid spontaneous stretcher. Waiting for Bart, at a red light, in front of the microwave, in the elevator, sitting at a conference table I will bust out into some contorted pose worthy of “America’s got talent”. Quite embarrassing, but very rewarding. Finally a note on eating and drinking. Simply put, replace all the calories and elctrolytes you burn or you will DIE. Ok, perhaps you will not die, but your body is going thru some dramatic changes, so best to keep it fed and hydrated. During the last week of tapering, I have slowed down my exercises and have started loading up on carbs and drinking water so I have to go around the corner at least once an hour. You get the point.
As for the grand finale, I certainly hope I will get over the finish line. I do not expect a standing ovation or a ticker tape parade of any kind although there is a much publicized BBQ lunch at the end of the Tour of Napa Valley. However, I will be able to check off another item on my bucket list.