Apologies up front: This, like my “first marathon” and “first ultra-marathon” posts, is a longer one…
This past Saturday, I rode in Foxy’s Fall Century out in Davis, CA. Foxy’s, an annual event hosted by the Davis Bike Club, dates back to the 1960s, so it’s an established event that draws 1500 riders of all ages and abilities each year. The event offered three distances: the traditional, 100-mile century, a metric century (100 kilometers or 62 miles), and a 50-kilometer (31 mile) Family Ride. A friend of mine invited me to ride the 100-mile distance with him in late summer, so I shifted my predominately running-focused training to prepare.
The weather was excellent: clear and cool at the start (~50 degrees) and it warmed up nicely as the ride progressed. I’d guess it was in the upper 70s when I finished.
The 100-mile course which, according to my friend and several blogs I consulted during my training, has changed slightly over the years (route and actual distance); but, at its core, the circular course departs Davis and makes its way through Solano and Napa counties – through Davis, farmlands, vineyards, rolling hills (including a climb up “Cardiac Hill”), and then back through the farms into Davis. There were three rest stops along the route, with lunch being served at Wooden Valley School (~mile 51.) The Davis Bike Club’s website describes Foxy’s as “the ideal first century ride” and I would agree. It was just the right mix of flats, rolling hills, and good climbs/downhills to make it challenging yet achievable for a newbie…like me.
Course and event management was excellent. There were tons of volunteers and CHP to ensure riders stayed on course and the roads also had signage just to be sure (color-coded arrows stuck to the road.) The rest stops and lunch stop were placed at perfect intervals and were stocked with a great selection of food and water/electrolyte drink (stop two was water/electrolyte only though.) Lunch was great, though I didn’t eat too much. The ride started and finished at Veterans’ Memorial Center in Davis, which was a great location. At the start, they had coffee and breakfast-type fare, though I didn’t partake (I followed my normal fueling regimen.) Riders were provided a pasta dinner at the finish…I didn’t pass that up! They also had a bike swap meet, which was nice as well – I picked up a jersey for my wife to give me at Christmas!
I am not an experienced cyclist, but this was an excellent event and one I’d definitely ride again.
- Garmin times:
- Moving: 5:49:36 at a 17.2 mph average pace, max speed of 36.7 mph, and average cadence of 87
- Total: 6:50:29. [Rest 1: ~10:00, rest 2: ~8:00, lunch: ~31:00, and rest 4: ~12:00]
First, let me get this out of the way: After two years of solid running, this was a nice change. I’m a runner first, but I think this has broadened my interests and goals and will eventually lead to more cycling, duathlons, and ultimately triathlons. There, I laid that out there…now y’all can hold me to it.
This was my first organized cycling event after two solid months of bike-focused training and was an excellent experience. I am so thankful that Rich mentioned it back in July and that I actually decided to do it…I was on the fence for a while at first. A hill called “Cardiac” had a lot to do with that, but I decided to just go for it…and properly train, of course.
As I mentioned above, the ride started and finished in Davis. When I plugged the addresses for the Veterans’ Memorial Center in my iPhone nav app, it was 101 miles from my house – so I drove 100 miles, to ride 100 miles, only to drive another 100 miles home! It was a busy day…
That said, with an 0700 start, my day started pretty early for a Saturday, though not early compared to my normal, weekday workouts – I always wake up between 0330 and 0400 during the week. I made good time up to Davis and took a pit stop at a Shell station to use a “normal” potty vs. the porta ones that would be at the start. I got there in plenty of time to check in, get my bike set up, meet up with Rich, and start the ride.
Dude, where’s the Start? The ride got off to a funny start… I am a runner. I’m used to gathering at a line, listening to last minute course instructions, sometimes hearing the National Anthem, and then moving en masse through an arch or over a mat. After getting my bike ready, Rich suggested we start. I agreed and we rode out of the parking lot. I assumed we were heading to the “start” and just rode along with Rich and a few others. After about two miles (OK, we were talking), I asked Rich where the “start” was? He smiled and said, “We’re on the ride!” I started laughing and quickly hit the START button on my Garmin. I hoped that would be the only “newbie” mistake or move I’d make on the ride (which it was.) I also told myself that I’d be tacking on a few miles at the end of the ride to make sure I hit the “100” milestone on my Garmin!
I won’t give a mile-by-mile recount, but I will say that overall, things went great. In the scheme of things, I knew I’d trained sufficiently and just went with the flow. I rode with Rich until somewhere after the second rest stop and then rode ahead – we had agreed to a plan like that already. We met up again at the lunch stop, talked about how things were going, and then separated again. We met up again at the finish – talking about the ride while enjoying the pasta!
If you look at the route sheet above, you’ll notice that the hills/climbs are after lunch (like immediately after), so I knew things would get interesting after that. I purposely didn’t eat too much at lunch, half a PBJ and some Ruffles, not wanting to mess things up and sticking with my fuel plan of GU Gels. I headed out, determined to conquer Cardiac – or rather, no be pwned by it. There is actually one hill prior to Cardiac: Circle Oaks summit. I think I went too fast on that one and stared to tire at the summit. Once I reached the top, I pulled off to rest and hydrate, joining a group of fellow riders. Lesson learned. When I came to Cardiac, I was determined, paced/managed cadence better, and climbed it successfully without needing to stop at the top. My speed/time for Circle Oaks was 7.9 mph/7:34, for Cardiac it was 9.0 mph/6:40 – not a huge difference, but enough. As advertised, the ride down Cardiac was a blast!
After the speedy decent from Cardiac and the well-deserved, final rest stop, there was one more nice climb, then the rest of the ride was downhill or flat again. Physically, I did great. I had no issues with saddle discomfort (I guess that aspect of bike fit is good), though my upper arms got pretty sore by the end of the ride, so maybe I need to have that aspect of bike fit looked at. The only real issue I has was on the final 15 or so miles where my left foot started burning – mostly in the toes. I loosened my shoe, but that didn’t really help. I basically gritted it out – embracing the suck – until I got to my car and took my shoe off. It immediately felt better and, after wearing my Birkenstocks for a few minutes, felt normal again. I probably should have pulled over on the ride and taken the shoe off, but I didn’t want to stop and certainly didn’t want to find something worse.
Aside from my left foot – the ride went pretty flawless. Since it was cool, I wore arm warmers and leggings at the start. I decided not to wear a jacket, opting for a base layer, thinking I would be too warm with one just after getting started. I kept the arm and leg covers on until lunch, knowing it would be warming up and not wanting to get overheated on the climbs. I L.O.V.E. my Pactimo bib shorts – I had no issues with my “nether regions” … credit to the fit and padding of these babies. Also, credit in this area goes to the Blue Steel Sports Anti-Chafe Cream that I started using a while back.
Finally, I am glad I invested the two months in focused training; which, incidentally, looked like this:
- Training period: 8/26 – 10/18
- Rides: 34
- Time: 51:56:27 hh:mm:ss
- Distance: 895.13 mi
- Avg speed: 17.2 mph
- Avg cadence: 83
- Avg ride time: 1:31:40
- Avg distance: 26.3
- Avg elevation gain: 809 ft
- Max elevation gain: 2920 ft
I think without this investment, I would have finished; but not as satisfied with myself and the day. Just like in running, I saw that training was one of the keys to enjoying an event. I know my running base totally suffered, but it was a wise change – 100 miles, after all, is 100 MILES!
The one downside for the day was that my GoPro 2 didn’t work, which was a bummer. It froze up right after I turned it on ahead of the Stevenson Bridge. Oh well…
As for fueling, I followed my normal pre-marathon carb loading plan: 36 hours of >80% carbs and 1000 calories above my normal daily intake. As far as race fueling, I followed my normal plan (bagel at -3 hours (though I added some peanut butter this time), GU at -45 min, GU & salt tab at -15 minutes, additional salt tabs every hour, and GU Gels along the way (usually at the hour mark.) As for hydration, I drank about 144 ounces during the ride, 72 of GU Brew and 72 of water. I ate a Lauren’s Mega Nuts Picky Bar at the last rest stop, which tasted SOOOO good and hit the spot! I’ve said on my previous race reports, that this fueling plan seems to work for me: read no bonk or wall yet (knock, knock.) I’m glad to know that it works for cycling and this distance as well.
Here are some photos from the day. Just like running events, they are sparse:
- Bottom line: I’m a cyclist! I’ve ridden a century!
- Post-race meal: I didn’t plan on eating at the pasta feed, but took one look at the lasagna and had to have a piece – it was wonderful! The ice cream sandwich was awesome too! Once I got home, I had some leftover spaghetti from the previous night’s carb loading. YUMMY!
- Takeaways: I. Like. Cycling. Training is a key to an enjoyable, and successful, event.
Training Journal – 10/25/13:
Congratulations! Look like a fun event to participate. 🙂
Thanks! It was a blast.