Thursday, September 19, 2013

My 1st Event - Santa Clarita Half-Century, Pt II

...So where was I...oh yeah, I had to pee.  It wasn't like this was something I just realized. Right before the ride started it hit me. I was so worried about staying hydrated I was sure to drink plenty the night before and the morning of the ride. Add in the nervousness that comes with going on my first ride, and it all made sense.  But I thought when it hit, "I can't go now, I'll miss the start of the race. Once I get going the feeling will go away."

Unfortunately for me, the feeling did not go away. As I continued to ride the feeling got more poignant. I kept wondering just how mad people would be to see a rider pulled off to the side of the road (still in town mind you) taking a quick leak. As we got out of town I knew I was about 10-11 miles in, and there was a SAG station around mile 18. I was going to do all I could to try and forget about my bodily desires, and focus on riding.

A Little More Encouragement
At the edge of Santa Clarita the ride takes you on a winding back road to Acton. At the start of the road to Acton I was still around a good number of riders. This was new road for me on my bike as I had only driven before the race to see what I was up for. I was glad to see that I was doing well on the climbs, at least considering the company I was in, and it pushed me forward. In fact, on the second or third hill out of town I was the most pumped as one guy looked over and said to me as I passed him and a few others climbing up the hill, "You're a monster!"  

I felt like a monster! I was passing people climbing some small hills, but they were the only hills I had ridden up to that point in my short cycling career, and they felt good. (I will admit here that I know I am not a good climber. When I ride with guys, road or mtn, I am one of the slower ones. I know that the better riders were well beyond me at this point, and most were probably doing the century that started an hour before we did. But it still felt good to be passing people.)

Settling In
After a few miles there were fewer people. I passed a couple more and finally made it to the first stop where I was able to, well relieve myself. I topped off my water, and took an extra minute asking a volunteer to re-pin my number to my jersey as the sun had come up and I took my jacket, as was back on my way. I was not planning to stop here as I wanted to make my only stop in Acton (the half-way point), but nature called and took a few minutes of my time. 

So adjustments made, I was back on the road, and back in pace with a few individuals. Never close enough to do any drafting of them, or them off me, but making a decent time to get to town.

Once in Acton, I made a quick stop just to grab a couple orange slices, top off the bottles again to make sure I had enough liquid to get me home, and I was out. I had to make up for lost time on the first stop.  I knew that this would be my least favorite part of the ride. (Or at least I thought it would be my least favorite part.)

Coming out of Acton, I was about half way through the race in terms of distance, and probably had climbed almost two-thirds of the total vert. Here, however, I knew it was a slow and steady climb for the next five miles. The gradient honestly would be laughable for serious riders, but for a guy just getting onto a bike riding five miles with gradients ranging mostly from two to seven degrees, at a point that was towards the end of the longest distance that I had ridden up to that point, I knew I just had to keep my head down and keep riding. The not so good news was there was no one close around me. No one to push me, no one to take turns pulling with. The good news was I knew after the climb there would only be a couple short steep climbs left in the ride. The rest would be downhill or flat. I just settled in and tried to find a rhythm.

Bringing It Home
By the time I reached the top of the hill I actually caught a group of four guys. They appeared to be working together up the hill (of which I was most envious), but I had caught them on my own. I will admit one of the guys kept turning around and talking to the other three up the hill, pushing them on. He could have left them in the dust going up the hill, and did once they hit the top.

Regardless, at this point I knew I earned the fun that was coming. About nine miles of fun riding down hill only broken up by a couple quick, hard climbs. About seven of the miles had gradients between the two to eight degree range. This allowed me to get some real speed on my bike for the first time, getting up to 48 mph (so says Strava). Then it was pretty flat the last 15 miles to finish out the ride.

As I thought before, that the hill coming out of Acton would be my least favorite part, but that would probably come in a close 2nd to the numbness that set in in my nether regions between miles 38 and 45 on the beat up, boring road back into town. 

Then came the worst part. I had planned out the ride, scoured over the map multiple times prepping myself to ride the 50 miles. But, just as I thought I was close to the final stretch, I was the arrows point in a different direction for a small detour that would add another mile or two to the ride. I was over it by this point. I was tired, I was hungry, and mainly I had told myself I only had so far left. Now, I had to add more distance to the ride. I made the turn, did the extra portion (though I didn't see anyone else doing it), and was glad to be greeted by the best looking cutest looking family a guy could ask for at the finish line.

How it ended up:
Distance: 53.5 miles
Time: 3:24:24
Ending feeling: I HAVE to do this again!!
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