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Riding a Century: What's Your Story?

It fascinates me that the century is what it is. There’s just something about getting on your bike and hitting triple digits, be they kilometers or miles, that holds an allure. For some, it’s a goal to be worked up to over the course of years; for others, it’s a monthly habit. But, as a friend commented this past weekend while riding, “A century is never a small undertaking.” 

A lot can happen in 100 miles. Flats, crashes, changes in weather, fatigue, second winds, changes in scenery, bizarre and fleeting moments and so on… Granted, all these things can characterize any ride, be it 5 miles or 50 (or 100), but hitting triple digits somehow adds an extra layer of satisfaction that 99 miles doesn’t.



Through the years and miles, I’ve come to believe that almost all centuries have a story. The accomplishment, by way of a narrative, gets etched permanently into memory. Ask 5 people who ride the same century what it was like, you’ll get 5 different stories (or maybe even 7). That mile 63 was a total low for one person, while the view at mile 15 made the remaining distance worthwhile for someone else. It’s these things, these stories, which bring out the character of the ride, as ridden by the riders. And I think that’s cool.

For me, the century that stands out the most for me is probably the most recent one I rode—a route of my creation that’s still in its infancy, going around a lake that has been an integral part of my entire life. The ride is filled with the stories of my own personal geography of my grandfather’s legacy and the rise and passing of generations; my summers catching frogs, swimming all day and jumping off the boathouse with cousins; of summer camp and love and capture the flag at dusk.

Somehow, the twisting country roads, gravel climbs, lakeside trails and meandering highways through rolling fields evoke all these memories—the miles are an afterthought to the meditation of the ride. I fully admit that the ride holds more significance for me by way of my own nostalgia, but after sharing it with a few others this past weekend, my suspicions were confirmed that it truly is a great route—not fully polished yet, but one with potential.

So let’s hear ‘em—your stories of your centuries. Actual mileage doesn’t matter, so if you rode a metric century, planned to ride a double century but only got to mile 28, rocked a century at record pace or rode a couple miles with a person on their 100th birthday… anything goes, as long as it’s in the theme of a century. Tell us your story.

Posted on at 7:39 PM

Tagged: 100 miles, Cycling, bicycle and century

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Jim Fisher

This year I decided to take four days to ride from my house to the start of the MS 150 in Duluth, MN. The first day was going to be a little over 100 miles and having done a century once before, I knew this 60-year-old body could handle it. I loaded up my Randonee the night before with my camping gear and was ready to ride. I got up at 5 AM the next morning to head out and to my chagrin, it was raining -- and raining hard. I donned my rain gear, put on quick-dry running shorts (not bike shorts), and rain shoes (rubber boat shoes, actually) and headed out anyway. I had arranged to have breakfast in White Bear Lake, 32 miles away, with a friend. She met me with a bath towel, I changed shoes, dried off a little and laughed all the way through breakfast as she took way too many embarrassing shots with her camera of me looking like a drowned rat and posting them on Facebook. Even though it continued to rain the entire trip, the breakfast laughs kept me going. She had mentioned that once I get soaking wet I might as well keep going because I can't get any wetter. When I arrived at the Snake River campgrounds late that afternoon, I had all 28 sites all to myself, a warm fire and a dry sleeping bag in a dry tent on a soft cushion of white pine needles. Needless to say, I slept like a rock. I actually highly recommend it and would do it again in an instant.

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Keith E. Staff Member

A great story, Jim! And congrats on the MS 150--we're about to have ours in a couple weeks; now I'm thinking about riding to the event and back.

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Commute-A-Sarus

This past weekend was the Hottern' Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls Texas. My friend, wife, mother-in law and I went up early on Friday and set up camp. We went to the exhibition and watched the criterium races.
I had the goal to ride a sub five hour century and I ended up with a time of 4:50:38. I am pleased to say that I hung with the lead group (in front of the "Official Pace Group") for 60 miles. I ran out of water and had to stop off at the Burkburnett rest stop to refuel/ tighten my handlebar stem bolts. At that time my average speed was 27mph. I was able to catch on with the second chase group and hang with them for about 20 or so miles. I started feeling some light cramping in my left calf muscle so I peeled off at the next rest stop. After a whole bottle of Pickle Juice and a refill of my bottles I was off but not in a group. I rode solo for about seven or eight miles when I was over taken by and latched on with the "Official Pace Group". It was an interesting experience riding in a group with "full race support" watching them slow for a "feed zone". The race leaders would ferry bottles from the team motorcycles to the riders that needed refilling/refueling. They used radios to control the pace of the group, keeping everyone in a tight pack. It was neat seeing the organization of all this happening while still moving along between twenty and twenty-five miles per hour.
I had some discomfort on my inner right thigh and reached down to investigate only to find that my seat bag strap had rubbed a hole in my shorts and was now rubbing a hole through my skin. I reluctantly had to leave the pace group at the next aid station to get my leg seen to and to refill/refuel for the final push into the finish. The doctor at the station understood my hurry being pressed on time at 4:37 since the start and only at mile 92. With 23 minutes to go, 8 miles and get my leg dressed, time was very close. I needed to average 20 mph but I was tired and there wasn't a paceline in sight. I was desperate. The head winds were killing my speed, the best I was able to make was 19.5; not quite good enough. Then suddenly from behind a small group of ten or twelve riders started to come around me on my left. "I'M SAVED!" I thought and latched on to the first wheel I could muster and held it until the last turn. I was in a total zone of aggressive male, almost growling as I planned my sprint into the finish. Judging my strength after 100 miles and the length that I can sprint. 100meters after the USCF finish I started my sprint into the finish. I was off like a rocket propelling myself past the finish in a burst of anger and elation. My heart was pounding like a drum even after I stopped. I unclipped and walked my bike towards the finish line village. I picked up my finishers pin and went straight to the fire hose to cool my body down. The water was refreshing but I needed to sit down. I found a shady place and sat on a chair, drinking water till I felt like I would be able to walk back to the campsite and get a shower.

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