Thursday, October 9, 2008

My first century experience

A couple of years ago Jenny and I decided it was time for us to complete a century. If you’ve every lived in the Pacific Northwest you know that the Seattle to Portland (STP) ride is a right of passage for cycling. So, we decided to make this our first century and while we were at it why not just do back to back centuries.

I had thought about doing the STP for a couple of years but it’s a Saturday/Sunday ride. Since we have a religious obligation on Sunday which keeps us from riding I had always told myself that the STP wasn’t a possibility.

When we decided to ride the STP we planned on riding by ourselves on Friday and staying the night in Centralia which is the halfway point (102 miles). Then we would wake up and make the trek into Portland on Saturday with all of the 1 day rider crazies. It sounded to me like a great plan to me.

Jenny and I trained a lot that spring doing plenty of 65 mile rides. We had pretty well adapted to that length so 3 weeks before the STP we decided to kick it up a notch and increase our training ride to 80 miles.

Since it was a Saturday and we didn’t want to be away from the kids all day we decided to start at 6AM. The beginning of our route was going to be on the Centennial trail which would be a nice warm up before hitting the road and dealing with cars for hours. As we rode, there were a lot of bunnies crossing the trail in front of us. It was kind of nice but you really had to concentrate on not hitting any of them. About 10 miles into the ride we looked up the trail saw a big pack of dogs in front of us. As we got closer most of them headed off into the bushes but one mangy dog stayed behind to growl and bark at us. As we approached him I unclipped one foot from my pedal in order to apply a good kick if he decided to attack. Both Jenny and I rode by him as he stared at us but the second we got passed him he started chasing us and increased his barking. Jenny looked back to see where he was and swerved a little. This little swerve caused her to barely go off the trail. Since she was still in a rush to get away from the dog when she attempted to get back on the trail her wheel caught the lip of the pavement and down she went directly on her shoulder. Wouldn’t you know it, Jenny’s fall scared the dog away and he slipped into the bushes with all of his other dog friends.

Jenny was in major pain at this point. Lucky for us our car was only about half a mile from where we were. After sitting for a while Jenny was able to walk under her own power back to the car. Because it was so early in the morning the local walk-in clinic wasn’t open for a few more hours.

We ended up going home and Jenny fell asleep for a while. We were both hoping that her shoulder would only be bruised up and that ice and rest would do the trick. Well, the walk up clinic x-rays told a different story. She broke her shoulder which meant that she would need to be in a sling for 6 weeks.

This was a major disappointment because we had trained so hard for the STP and it was only a matter of weeks away. After talking about this situation for a while we decided that I would make the ride by myself and Jenny would drive a support vehicle for me. Not the optimal solution but it worked given the situation. I ended up training for the next couple of weeks alone which just wasn’t the same. To make matters worse the day before the big ride I started to come down with a slight head cold. At this point I really started to doubt if the STP was really possible.

More to come tomorrow………………

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