Two weeks ago, one of the women that I chat with a lot at the Thursday night women's ride (her name is Jaimie) said that she would ride the century with me, so I was totally excited. Then early this week, it looked like her friend might be visiting from Alaska this weekend, so she wasn't going to be able to ride. But the Alaskan friend decided to come into town next weekend instead, so we got to do the ride together after all! It is so much more fun to ride with a friend for 100 miles than to do it alone (or so I imagine). I was really glad Jaimie could make it. It was also a great time getting to know each other better.
So, we met up at the Herman Miller Greenhouse in Holland, MI at 7:45am to get our wrist bands and maps for the ride (if you want to check out the route, the maps are online here). Then off we went! The weather report was threatening rain throughout the day, but it turned out to be perfect. Not too hot, sunny and dry.
For the past month, people have been telling me how flat this course was supposed to be. Ha! Flat like my husband's chubby Dutch butt! I'll grant that it was indeed flatter than the 100 Grand course, but it was still frickin' hilly! And super windy. OMG
So anyway. We skipped the first rest stop at 11 miles. We really weren't tired or hungry yet. But the second stop at 28 miles was great. So many bikes! We had a pancake breakfast and ran into our friends from the Priority Health team. Two of them ended up doing their first century on an tandem. How cool!
What a great sight! So many bikes!
Me, loving the day
The only equipment issue I had all day was a dropped chain - just like the last century! I guess I should figure out what combination of shifting and climbing a hill causes that...and not do it! Oh, well. It's an easy problem to fix. Of course, I had just lubed my chain, so I had the black fingers to prove my mechanical prowess. lol
The second stop was at about 43 miles at the Fenn Valley Winery. I did a wine tasting here this spring as part of a bachelorette party for my friend, Cat. This stop was also fun because as I was picking snacks from the food table, a guy wearing a jersey with the Rolling Stones tongue on it (his name is Kevin - see the comments) came up to me and asked if I had blogged about the 100 Grand. He did the 100 Grand this year, too, and was trying to explain the ride to his friends. They didn't get it - so, it's a race? It's how many miles? He ended up googling "100 Grand" and found my blog. Then he referred his friends to it to help explain exactly what this crazy century ride thing was. I met a reader! Woo hoo! (By the way, cool jersey, Kevin H!)
Fenn Valley Winery
I love food!
Priority Health friends come in on their tandem (Yah...it's behind the sign post. Bad shot!)
Ready to continue, we hopped back on the road. After a while, I seriously started to hit the wall. My legs were dying and I was hungry. It's at this point that we consulted our route maps to see how far it was to the next rest stop. 30 miles between stops! I wanted to die. I did not have the same crazy stamina that I had on my first century ride. I think I was just not on that day. It had been a tiring week. I kept trying to make it to the designated stop. I kept thinking it would be just up ahead. Why stop now, it's just a couple more miles? Not so! I eventually declared my own rest stop to eat a banana that I had shoved in a jersey pocket after the pancake breakfast. That helped. My brain wasn't so fuzzy, but my legs still did not want to turn the pedals over. I was a little sad because I cruised through the first 50 miles, and now I was slowing down. But finally at mile 73, we found the park with the next stop.
After that, it was a mental game. There was one more stop about 12 miles away in the town of Saugatuck and then 15 miles to the finish. One little section at a time! I could do that.
Lake Michigan after the long section of the ride
We hit the stop in Saugatuck at around 3:00. There was some kind of festival going on downtown by the river. There were people and cars everywhere! We sat in a gazebo for a while watching the chain ferry shuttle tourists across the river. I did not want to keep going. I wished my car was in Saugatuck instead of in Holland. But I did it anyway.
Back in the saddle for the final push! We passed right by my friend Cat's apartment. Then finally...gloriously...the wind was at our backs! Just what we needed to finish strong! It's amazing how much of a difference that makes. With the wind at our backs, we were rolling at an effortless 22 miles per hour, whereas previously, we were lucky to struggle at 13 mph into the gale.
And at long last...the end! 99.8 miles in 8 hours. I may have felt slow for the second half of the Holland Hundred, but I finished it in a full hour less than I did the 100 Grand. My average speed for the day was 15mph. Not too bad, but I think if I pace myself better and keep getting stronger as a rider, I can improve on that.
The Holland Hundred was a really fun ride on a gorgeous day. I look forward to doing it again next year. Now, what ride shall I do next?!?