First official century
I can finally say I’ve biked a century. I’ve come close, even riding around 85 miles on a hybrid bike in high school for a volleyball “bonding day” (after never riding a bike), but this was the first time I actually set out to ride 100 miles at once. It’s kind of strange to me, as an endurance athlete, that it took me so long to do this, but somehow I just never had an opportunity until this weekend.
Since I’ve had some trouble with my knees on some of the longer rides I’ve done this year, I was very paranoid about doing the century with the club. I didn’t want to be “that girl” the one that either had to drop out or people had to wait for because I was going so slow and in pain. I decided to take every precaution possible to make sure I was able to ride pain free for 100 miles.
So what did I do? I started the day before by upping the amount of tissue rejuvenator I take daily. The morning of the ride, I took 400mg of ibuprofen (I rarely take any form of pain medication), I wrapped my knees with KT tape, and put warrior mist on them as well. Rich also instructed me that I was not to push on the hills like I normally do, and I was to spin at a higher cadence.
After all this we were just getting to the lunch stop down at the beach (45-50 mile stretch), and I began to feel a twinge of pain in my right knee. As I was pulling the group in to the sandwich shop, I was really bummed. All I could think of was even after all that I did, I can’t ride 50 miles without knee pain? Rich had gotten there before me, so luckily my HUGE half a sandwich was waiting for me. I was able to sit down and stretch out my knees and eat (and drink water).
Once everyone had finished eating, I popped some more ibuprofen and we got back on our bikes. At this point my knee felt ok. I figured it was just because I had stopped, but I fully expected the pain to return (and most likely with a vengeance). As we continued on the ride (arguably the hardest part of the ride since it was more uphill then down), I began to feel fresher and fresher. Literally the more miles we went, the better I felt. I distinctly remember right before mile 80 (think it was something like 78-79 miles in), I felt ready to go, as in ready to race. After topping off the water bottles and getting some shade at the last rest area, I took off again and decided to ride hard the rest of the way in.
This last section of the ride, all I could think of was my knees have never felt better, heck I’ve never felt better on a ride. Why can’t my body feel like this in mountain bike or cross races? Then I thought back to my days of competitive swimming and realized the similarities. I never felt good at the beginning of a race, it wasn’t until the last quarter or so that I typically felt strong and began my come back from behind. I’ve always said I was an endurance athlete, but I think this was the first time that it truly clicked for me on how true that statement really is.
I fully expected to wake up Monday morning extremely sore and with pain in my knees, especially since I hadn’t done any rides longer than probably 15-20 miles in at least a month, but no I woke up and felt great (though I was starving!), which gives me even more reasons to love 110% for recovery. Overall, it was a great day on the bike; we had beautiful weather, a good group of people (around 30 club members participated in at least part of the ride) and I burned 2200 calories!
Do you classify yourself as more of an endurance athlete or a sprinter? In your opinion, is it better to cater to your strengths or work on your weaknesses? I’d love to hear your thoughts!