Friday morning started bright and early with a 3 am wake-up call. Neil kindly drove my dad, me and our bikes to the Bike to the Beach starting area in downtown DC. Leela came to see us off too, of course.
It was pitch black, but I was ready to hit the road. We met my brother’s friend Megan, and her friend Brie before the ride. I decided to change into the yellow race shirt they gave out instead of my new tank.
The first 20-ish miles were interesting because it was pitch black and we were going through downtown DC. All the bikers were required to have front lamps and red flashing lights, so we pretty much just followed the trail of red flashing lights (which was good because it would be impossible to follow the directions sheet in the dark). There were lots of rolling hills and we got to the first rest stop with no problems (mile 17 or so).
After a quick stop and bathroom break, we were off with our new friend Brie. We had lost Megan on the way because it was pretty impossible to keep track of people, as everyone was wearing matching shirts and it was dark out. This part of the ride was gorgeous- we were surrounded by forest and there were more rolling hills.
At mile 33, we dropped off our bikes and were transported over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge by bus. It was about a 20 minute ride over the bridge, and then another 20-30 minutes waiting for our bikes to get there. You would think this would be annoying, but I actually liked this. I told myself I just had to get through the first 33 miles, which were the hilliest, and then I’d get a break. It made the ride feel like two bike rides (33, and 71 miles) instead of one really long one.
We ended up getting into a pack of riders after starting up again. I wasn’t sure of the etiquette on drafting, but we were with these guys who were really booking it (20+ mph) and stuck behind them. I had no idea how much easier drafting would make this ride considering I never draft in training rides. When we got to the next rest stop (we skipped one at mile 39) we thanked the guys for being so speedy and letting us hang on.
The scenery from here on out was farmland, which was pretty except for when we passed stinky chicken farms. And it was mostly pancake flat. Throughout the entire ride, we saw tons of people getting flats. I’m happy and thankful to report that none of us had to deal with a flat tire!
We were hoping to stick with another group after the rest stop, but one of them got a flat tire so we moved on by ourselves (my dad, me and Brie). We were very lucky that we had some cloud cover because it started to get hot. We decided to take turns leading while the others drafted. I’m happy to report we were able to maintain 18-20 mph almost the whole time without help from stronger riders. We also picked up a few drafters, so I didn’t feel so bad drafting off others earlier. We stopped at every rest stop, which were 10-12 miles apart. The rest stops had bananas, Clif bars, gatorade and water. I also brought my own Gus and ate those along the way.
Miles 85-95ish were the hardest of the race. One of the riders we had picked up, Eric, decided to take the lead. The sun had finally decided to come out full force, and we were riding into headwind. Eric started cramping up, so I took the lead again and I was never so happy to see the rest stop at mile 97. This rest stop had bags of ice and watermelon which was amazing. (Note: all the volunteers on this course were awesome).
Even though the sun was blazing, the last 8ish miles weren’t as bad because I knew we were coming to the finish. We started switching off the lead every 2 miles, but ended up catching up to a group of 10 or so riders since we were getting into the traffic/stoplights of the beach towns.
The finish line was sort of anti-climatic compared to the races I’m used to, since there were just a few people there cheering. My mom and Neil had gotten stuck in traffic and got there about 15 minutes after us. But we did get a shirt, hat and race medal to add to the wall.
We finished 105.8 miles in 5:55:58 (not including stops), which was an average pace of 17.8 mph. This was much faster than I expected (thanks to drafting and cloud cover).
Overall, I really loved this ride. The camaraderie between the bikers was great, the volunteers were awesome and the course wasn’t too painful. I’m extremely proud of my father, who completed the ride with me at 68 years old. I’m grateful I’ll have memories of doing this together for the rest of my life.
Before the race, I was mostly worried that my back would start killing me. Usually my back, arms and neck start getting achy about 20 miles into a bike ride. But I’m happy to report that pain didn’t get any worse over the course of 100 miles. I do think all my marathon training really helped my endurance for this ride because I wasn’t dead afterwards. Or sore at all the next day.
Friday and Saturday were spent relaxing at the beach, eating crab cakes and ice cream. We drove home Saturday late afternoon. Sadly I was unable to get rid of my bike shorts tan line (which I got after putting sunscreen on 4 times throughout the day).
My friend Kate and her husband Sven were in town from Kyrzygstan, so instead of waking up early to do a run, we got brunch and relaxed around the house.
I was planning on doing my run later in the day, but my stomach has been acting up since yesterday afternoon, so it is being pushed back to tomorrow before work.
If you made it to through this entire post, kudos to you…it’s hard to sum up 100 miles of riding in a short post!