Wednesday, September 24

Granite State Wheelmen Seacoast Century

Quarter-till-seven in the morning is pretty late for me. That is to say, it's pretty late at night. It's pretty early to be waking up on a Saturday morning, and I'd be disinclined to do so without major prompting. Twenty minutes later I was out the door and pounding the pedals in a solo effort to bang out the southern section of the ride and make it back to registration by eight o'clock to meet up with Chris Adams of the Suitcase of Courage blog. A 20-mile time trial at seven in the morning is not a cool way to start a day of nine hours of cycling. Also it was below 40 degrees, which I was not prepared for.

After meeting up with Chris and his friend Larry at the Hampton Beach State Park, we headed out on the north section. It's was still freezing so we set a pace that was a bit fast, so we could warm up. By the time we made it up to the greater Portsmouth area, it had warmed up. The first rest stop was in Kittery, Maine at Fort McClary, which was a military base from the Revolutionary War. We resupplied there. One thing they had was Powerbar Gel Blasts which was like a big chug of Coke in a little gummy bear thing. They were good.

Anyway, we headed on. I took several wrong turns, because I wasn't watching for the road markers. I mean, I live here. I grew up in Kittery, and I've lived in Portsmouth for eight years. I know how to get to Cape Neddick. One of the other guys behind me would yell "yo, this way," but I'd keep going and meet up with them a mile down the road, when the paths converged again. Once we reached Nubble Light in York Beach, I (and absolutely everyone else) took a picture of the lighthouse:

We continued around the rest of the way to Cape Neddick and back south. About this time, Mile 70 or so, I started to crack. I was really hungry, and really tired. I immediately ate and drank most of the carbohydrates I had on me, in a bit of a panic. It was just enough--we made it back to Fort rest area without bonking.

After a refuel, we made our way south, back over the Memorial Bridge (we walked our bikes on the sidewalk) and through New Castle and Rye and Route 1A. Somewhere in Rye, Chris and Larry pulled over to use a construction site's port-a-john, for the 3rd or 4th time on the trip. I hadn't had to use one yet, and I didn't at this point either. I must have a whale of a bladder or something.

As I waited by the side of the road, a guy going the other way rolled to a stop a ways up the road, apparently with a flat tire. Boredom and convenience, as much as Samaritanism compelled me to help him out. We changed his flat using my spare tube and Larry's CO2 and sent him on his way. He was prepared to walk his bike back home to Portsmouth, about seven miles away, which would have sucked. As it turns out, he just moved to the area, and previously lived in the same area of Connecticut as Larry and Chris. Small world.

We took a short detour through North Hampton (okay, I turned the wrong way again, but this time they followed) and ended up going to Gus' Bike. It so happens that that was their last day of business, so the few remaining things on the shelves were 70% off. Not including bikes, which would have been awesome. Not that I could have ridden two bikes. But for 70% off, I would have tried.

We got back on track, back on 1A, and in to the last few miles of the ride. At this point I thought to myself, wow--what am I running on? we're on mile 95 and I'm not about to die or starve or fall asleep. I have no idea what my energy source was, this was by far the longest mileage I've ever done in one day. But I'm all about "go big or go home" (I often go home) so I hit it hard for the last three miles, just to punish myself. When it comes to how much energy you have left versus how much distance you have left, I think it makes sense to do it so you have zero energy when you have zero distance. So I hammered it out. It was cool.

Then I biked back home to Portsmouth, another 12 miles. That was kind of lame but I was so delirious by that point that it didn't matter. I got home about 4:30 in the afternoon, nine hours after I left in the morning. Total distance: 112 miles. After a brief nap I went to work till 1:30am which totally sucked. I was not in the mood for it at all.

Whatever, it was a great ride. I'm glad I can add that to my cycling resume. When I began cycling this year, one of my goals was to complete a century, so I consider it as a personal victory. That is to say: in simply finishing, I won the Tri-State Seacoast Century.

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