Lilac Century Surprise, sponsored by North Division Bike Shop, Aurora Rotary, and Group Health
(Been on it? Rate it!)
Route: Counter-clockwise from Spokane Falls Community College to Tum Tum, Corkscrew Canyon, Long Lake, Rearden, and back
Distance: 93.3 miles. For reasons that will be evident soon, I skipped the “Four Mound Prarie” loop, which knocked off about 10.5 miles and 350′ elevation gain.
Weather: Sunny. (This ain’t Seattle, folks!) Temperatures ranged from 49°F at the start of ride to 86°F in mid-afternoon. End of ride temperature was 77°F. Wind was very light in the morning. By afternoon, it was 15mph from the NE, gusts up to 20mph.
Terrain: rolling hills. (map) There were a few short 9.5% grades.
Elevation gain: 4,888′.
Time: 8.5 hours
Calories burned: 5,933
Things consumed: 1 1/2 gallons of Gatorade-equivalent, 2 Clif bars, a bagel, 2 bananas, 2 oranges, 16 small cookies, and an end-of-ride baked potato with trimmings. Also a small bottle of 30 SPF sunscreen, floral scent.
Here’s how the ride played out for me:
First third: “Wow, this is exciting! It’s a glorious day, just the right temperature, and the first 25 miles went very quickly.” (This is accompanied by an optional butt wiggle.) “I’ll get done with enough time to detour by the Grand Coulee Dam on the way home!”
Second third: “Okay, I’m tired, but I’ve survived what the locals have been referring to as ‘The Big Hill.’ (1,350′ gain over 14 miles.) Woot! Two thirds done!”
Third third of the ride: “Swell. Another brown hill whose monotony is broken up only occasionally by a grain silo. Downhills are depressing because the gusting wind prevents me from gaining any speed. Sheesh, and I was just lapped by a yellow jacket trying to get across the road. A mean-looking dog runs up to me, growling menacingly … until it realizes there would be no challenge. It trots back home, disappointed. “I just want to get this damned thing done.”
After the ride: “I want a shower and to go to sleeeeeeeeep.”
I am sore, and my calves are sunburned, but otherwise I feel fine… and tired, and am struggling to stay awake to finish typing this blog entry. (If there’s something egregious, I can always revise it later, right?)
I learned my lesson during Tour de Blast and drove up the night before. The volunteers were super-friendly when I picked up my packet. Jim, in particular, made me feel especially welcome that I made the trip across the state. Among the goodies in the ride packet are a long-sleeved T-shirt, a water bottle, and a nalgene bottle.
Back at my hotel room, I memorized the route and turns, thinking about how I’d pace myself for the long day. One concern I had from the map was the narrow windows of operation for the rest stops. I started a little earlier than official to give me extra cushion.
The first 25 miles went very quickly and I was the second person at the Tum Tum stop. (Yes, that’s the city’s real name.)
On the way to the Long Lake rest stop, five blocs of cyclists passed me. I think I could have kept up, but not without going anaerobic. (Anaerobic activity is great for training, but not for an event like this because it burns through the muscles’ glycogen stores, leaving one depleted at the end of the day. )
The locals warned us of the big hill over the next fourteen miles. The climb, about 1,300′, was a relatively shallow grade. Like STP’s colina del muerte, these things are often exaggerated. It wasn’t that bad.
|I spent a lot
of time staring
at this view
What was bad was the 35 miles between Rearden, the third rest stop, and the trail leading back to Spokane Falls Community College. Not only was it constantly rolling, but it also dealt me headwinds all the way. As much as I could, I kept my head down above the aero bars, wishing a Playstation portable would materialize and I could otherwise distract myself. The Honda Goldwings, who often volunteer to help look after cyclists during events like this, passed me a few times on the way to the Wood Road rest stop. I heard them tracking how many cyclists were still on the course, noting some had bugged out earlier.
The next section of the course can only be explained as “adding enough miles to make it a full hundred.” It’s a loop around some roads in “Four Mound Prarie.” There’s not much to see. Furthermore, with the wind still howling, doing an unnecessary loop was low on my list of ambitions for the day. I don’t think anyone else actually rode it, either, for precisely the same reason.
The tree-lined roads on the way back to Spokane Falls Community College provided refuge from the wind. Soon, I was back on Aubrey White road, which joins with the lovely Centennial trail in Riverside State Park. Two more miles of busy roads led to the college. Ride completed.
One of the volunteers introduced himself as a fellow Bike Friday owner, congratulated me on finishing the ride, then pointed out both the baked potato bar and a restroom with hot water. I wolfed down a potato, washed up, and changed into civilian clothes for the drive home.