Issaqueena's Last Ride - and nearly mine as well.

As I said on Friday when I posted, this race (I mean ride, but is there really a difference?) would be my first experience attempting a 100mi ride. I wasn't really sure what to expect, so I arrived at 7:30, one hour before the start time. I didn't come with anyone to go on the ride, although my wife did come to cheer for me before we took off. I really appreciated her support.

At 8:30, we promptly took off out of the Walhalla metropolis area. I had lined up about middle of the pack, a position that I felt would keep me from going out too hard, and keep me from getting caught up in the 32mi and metric century traffic.

Well, none of that mattered. I found myself with 2 or 3 other riders trying to hold on to very back of the lead group, clipping along at 25-28mph through the quiet city streets. I kept telling myself that this was not where I should be...this was too fast, and I should ease off because it would be a long day. Being willing to do this is a much more difficult thing than you would imagine. I finally fell off the lead pack at about 7 miles, and drifted back into a second group where I was comfortable with a 20-22mph pace. This was much more my style.

Next thing I know, there is a volunteer directing all 32 mi and metric century traffic to the left and 100milers to the right. Wouldn't you know it, my group of 20 riders or so turns left and leaves 2 of us to go to the right. We were in a bad spot. Too far back to catch the pack, and with only two of us it was doubtful we would be making up any time. So, we grit our teeth and dug in. The other guy (Brian) and I took turns leading a pace line, and one by one we began picking up riders that had gone out too hard at first.
Over the next five miles or so we were able to get organized, and really bean picking up the pace again. The next 15 miles were a really fun part of the ride. This was the group dynamic of cycling I had never experienced before. We were working together, although very few words were spoken at all. Everyone was doing their share pulling, our group of 15 or so was actually gaining on the leaders. At first we could began to see them way off in the distance, then they were only one hill ahead of us, then we even got within a few hundred yards... but they were just out of reach. For me they were anyway. There were 3 strong riders who began pulling at a ridiculous rate, which just broke apart our "B" group altogether. I have a feeling they probably were able to bridge the gap, but I couldn't hold on long enough to see it.
Now we were somewhere between 30 and 40 miles in, and I was finished. This could really be trouble. A SAG stop helped dramatically, but only for a few miles... Brian and I had stopped together, but eventually I told him to go on, because his pace was now too much for me. Somehow my wife and father-in-law decided to drive out and find me, and when they did, I had become all alone. I stopped and talked with them for a few minutes, drank another entire bottle of gatorade, and pounded a Cliff bar. The problem was, I had only just now reached the bottom of the mountain section. Talking with them raised my spirits a little, and put things into perspective that unless I rode at my own pace, I would ot be able to complete the total 100 miles.
I dropped into Granny Gear, and just turned the pedals. I knew from the website, and this post that this hill would be nearly 10 miles of continous climb. I didn't push it. I got up to 9 mph occasionally, but I stayed at a pretty consistent 6mph. Not a blazing speed by any means, but I was still moving. I didn't see anyone at all for 2 or 3 very slow miles. It is amazing what your mind thinks about when you are all alone. I began to worry that the volunteers would clean up and leave their rest areas before I got there. Then 2 guys passed me and went on out of sight, which was even more demoralizing - but then there began to be people standing on the side pulloffs, then some people walking their bikes... I couldn't be doing so bad after all. Turns out, because I ride a triple I was able to stay in the saddle the whole climb because of my lower gear set, and many other riders had to stand in the pedals the whole way up.
The road was painted with things like "You thought that was hard," and "Nope, there is still more" but I did begin to get excited when it said "One really hard mile left" I might actually get up this thing! It must have been a cyclist who wrote that last sign, because it ended up being .77 mi left. Normally "one mile to go" turns out to be about 1.3 or so, but this time it went in my favor. There was a beautiful SAG stop overlooking Lake Jocassee, which had the bulk of the "B" group still there.
They left before I could get ready, I just needed more time to recoup... but I was with riders again - this was a great feeling. As I started back out, I knew we had some downhill coming up but I also knew we still had about 45 miles to go... I still had a lot of work to do. I decided to really push it on the next downhill, if I could pik up some time here, maybe I could catch enough people to form a group that could work together to get home... because I would be needing some help.
My plan worked out. I ran down a group of 8 riders, and had a blast doing it. I glanced down once to see 46mph flash by... don't know if I've ever seen that before! These guys were great, and as I began to get my second wind, I began to build confidence again. The next stop was at 70 miles or so, and Brian and I hooked up together again, and decided we felt good enpough to leave out before the others. We were making good time, and all was well in the world until he says "Now there is one more real nasty climb coming up" I think he said it would have 17% grade... I'm not sure if I heard him right on the second part, but he was right, it was nasty. Fortunately it only lasted a mile or so, and again my tripple seemed to work to my benefit. Brian reached the top before I did, but it seemed he wasted a lot more energy doing so than I did.
Then the home stretch.. we had 20 miles left to go, mostly flat or downhill. It is funny how hard even the slightest uphill became. But we were doing it! I knew my girls would be waiting for me to come in, and that excitement began to turn into speed. I pulled stronger and stronger over the last 10 miles until finally - we had made it! My computer said 100.043 miles. Awesome.
My ride time was 5:54 with an entire time of 6:27. (I really needed those stops) We had a total ascent of 8900 feet. I am 26, probably the youngest guy out there... these guys are incredible. Sure I beat a few of them, but I was smoked by a bunch of guys much older than I, and in much, much better shape. But I made it!


  1. Milo,

    Great desciption of a great ride. I am impressed you chose ILR to be your first 100 miler. You are a strong rider. Thanks for pulling me home. Feel free to call me next time you are in Aiken and would like to ride.


  2. Wow, Milo, great ride! Yep, looks like you jumped in with both feet on your first century. Enjoyed your post!

  3. Brian, I will be in Aiken on Friday and Saturday of this week. I would love to ride... think 30 miles or so. I'm there for a big family reunion, so I can't be out riding all day

  4. Isn't it frustrating when you realize you were right in telling yourself you should have gone slower! Nice comeback.

  5. dude, a hundred miles?? your much more of a man than me. it might be a while before we can ride together if your up to riding that much. 100 miles just makes me cringe. but i'm impressed!