For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.
Today I rode the 7 Hills of Kirkland 100-mile (century) route with a large group of people I know from previous rides. The weather cooperated and refrained from raining on us, and although it remained overcast the entire ride, that just meant we also didn’t get sunburned or too hot.
On Sunday I worked hard to eat, particularly lots of carbs (not exactly a terrible hardship), and to drink plenty of water; and I just plain rested. No biking, nothing worth mentioning. Except for a good long nap. I even went so far as to have Ian drop me off at the starting point rather than riding there, as I normally would, so I saved all my energy for the ride itself. This morning before the ride, I also drank more than usual and made sure to eat my normal hearty oatmeal. Oatmeal really is the breakfast of bicyclists.
I mention all this specifically because I had an exceptionally good ride, to the point where other people were commenting on how strong I was riding, and that’s the only thing I did even remotely differently from usual. I won’t go into all the boring details, but the long and short of it is that I somehow paced myself well at the beginning and didn’t push too hard right off, and by the end was keeping up with guys who are usually way ahead of me. I only started feeling really fatigued with just a couple of miles left, and had enough left to push hard at the very end (which didn’t translate to particularly fast by that point, but oh well). Towards the end I took a few turns pulling, when I knew I’d be able to make it the rest of the way.
We comprised a pretty good-sized group, and I didn’t feel bad letting other people do the pulling for the first portion of the ride. We made a definite effort to stay together, stopping or slowing to regroup when we got too far separated, and waiting to leave as a group from rest stops, and this provided more opportunities to rest than we’ve had on recent rides. That helped, too. I really enjoyed the group aspect of the ride: We stayed together, helped each other, pushed each other, and I think all had a good ride. It felt like a fairly reasonable balance between the RTS “if you get dropped, too bad, we’re not waiting” approach and Francis’ “regroup at the top of every hill” approach.
The first 40 miles were the hardest, for sure. We did 6 of the major hills — something like 3,000 feet of climbing — in that distance. The next 60 miles we did ride up more hills, ending up with a total of just over 7,000 feet of climbing, but with nothing like the frequency or difficulty of the first half of the ride. We had lots of flat or almost flat stretches in Snoqualmie Valley where I was able to draft and take it relatively easy. All the big hills were old friends of mine, as I’ve ridden up all of them quite a number of times over the last six months. That let me pace myself well, a real boon. It helps to know if the hill’s going to get steeper, or if it’s almost over, or if it’s a long gradual climb, or what. Now that I’ve done all three different 7 Hills routes, I have to say I think the metric century is the hardest. The century had enough flats that you got a good rest, and the shorter route is just so short, but the metric has all the hardest hills with hardly any breaks.
Since the course goes so near our house, Ian walked over and took some pictures of me at a couple of different points. It was fun to see him, albeit extremely briefly. Here are two of the best pictures.
Anyway, overall, I rode very, very strong (for me) and felt excellent for the 7 Hills of Kirkland century ride. It was an overall great day for me**. I can only hope to feel so good in a couple months on RAMROD. Now I have to spend the next two months getting stronger, but not ruining what I have — a tricky proposition, but I’m learning to listen to my body and know when to push and when to rest. I’m not as strong or fit as most of the people I ride with, and although it’s sometimes discouraging to get dropped, or not be able to pull as fast, I can actually turn that to my advantage: The only way to get faster is to ride with people faster than you, and boy am I doing that.
* I know I used this on the previous post. But it was so darn appropriate for today, too.
** Dang, I it when other people are so comprehensively right. As I mentioned last post, Dan said I was easily ready for the 7 Hills, and doggone it, he was totally right. I’m glad, but I hate to admit it. Heh.