I decided to try the North Shore century ride this past September. This would be my first-ever century, and I figured that biking 100 miles in a day didn’t seem that bad since my transferrable bike commuting skills would come in handy. My body was already accustomed to being on a bike for long periods of time, I knew how to perform basic bike repair and best of all, I wouldn’t be weighed down by a backpack full of work clothes or a work laptop. My training schedule consisted of bike commuting at least 50 miles a week six weeks leading up to the event. I also went on a 75 mile bike ride two weeks before to make sure I felt confident with my energy and choice of food.
I used my road bike with platform pedals. I packed two water bottles and some energy bars and goo, and a stick of sunscreen which I kept in my handlebar bag. My outfit for the day was what I typically wear when bike commuting. I wore my running shoes with bike-specific insoles to help with foot fatigue. My knees and legs felt fine after the event, so I do think the bike-specific insoles really helped and made things feel a lot better when pedaling. I also wore a cooling scarf to keep comfortable and sun sleeves so I wouldn’t get sunburned.
Here’s the recap of the day:
Weather: Perfect – sunny with no wind.
Breakfast: Oatmeal, some fruit and coffee about an hour before the event. I had eaten a lot of carbs the week leading up to the ride and felt good.
Started: 6 am, which is my regular bike commute time.
Rest stops: I stopped at all of them to eat and give my legs a rest. My husband was nice enough to be there to keep me company. I had a hotdog at lunchtime and enjoyed watermelon, pickles, grapes and pretzels throughout the day. I was sufficiently hydrated and the best part of being a woman at these events is there is no line to the ladies’ room.
Favorite part: I’d never been to Wisconsin my whole life, and I got really excited on State Line Road when I knew I was going to cross over. Also, being able to see neighborhoods in Illinois I’ve never seen before.
Least favorite part: Climbing hills on a single-speed. The second leg of the event before reaching Wisconsin was very hilly and I doubted if I would be able to make it the rest of the ride. Thankfully, the terrain was mostly flat after that point and I didn’t have to worry anymore.
Boredom: At mile 80, I was actually quite bored and wanted to stop and do other things that day. Next time I do a century, I am making someone I know come with me. I did encounter some very nice people who talked to me during various stages of the ride – some guy named Guillermo who I started the race with, and other curious people who said I was crazy for biking the whole thing with my single-speed.
Ended: 4 pm = 10 hours of biking
At the end, I was expecting some sort of fancy finish line, but there was none, so I just had to imagine it being a crack in the road. I went to the finisher’s tent, got my certificate, stuffed it in my bag and rode back home. Luckily, I got to enjoy some Spotted Cow which the husband picked up in Wisconsin. I think I did just fine for my first century and found that regular bike commuting enabled me to train during the week without sacrificing time on my busy weekends. This was definitely a new experience for me and I’m glad that bike commuting helped prepare me both mentally and physically for a long day in the saddle.