Sunday, August 29, 2010

Shorefire Century Ride - 106 miles in Delaware

Three of us planned to do the Shorefire Century in Middletown, Delaware yesterday.  The weather promised to be good:  low 80s, low humidity, and little wind.  It doesn't get much better than that for riding.  Then we woke up to our dog having a problem with one of her legs.  It was not a life-threatening emergency, but she clearly needed to see the vet yesterday.  Rather than lose three paid registrations, he dropped me off at our friend's house and friend and I headed to the ride.

We got started around 7:45 a.m. and it was actually a little chilly.  The first few miles flew by and then we hit gravel.  That's right, gravel.  We had to ride about five miles of roads that had a layer of gravel on them.  Riding skinny tires on gravel is a great way to lose feeling in your hands and check to see if you have any loose fillings.  We found out later that the county was starting a poorly-timed repaving project and that the roads are not normally like that.  Fortunately, the gravel really didn't last that long and before I knew it, we arrived at the first rest stop, a little, somewhat grubby pizza place that would also be the last rest stop on the ride. 

The next leg went more smoothly since there were no more roads covered in gravel.  After the next stop, we made a mildly morale-damaging mistake.  The ride looped back on itself and the markers crossed at the first intersection after the rest stop.  We followed the wrong set, so we added four miles to our ride by the time we got back on track.  I was still in good shape, though, and four miles isn't the end of the world.  The third rest stop came right at the metric century mark.  At this point, we looked at the cue sheet decided to think about the rest of the ride as 3 shorter rides of 14 miles, 14 miles, and 16 miles each.

After that rest stop, my quads and triceps started to hurt.  I had been drinking plenty of water, so I wasn't thinking about dehydration.  The food served at the rest stops was long on sugar, but short on salt and substance.  About five miles out from the fourth stop, I ran out of gas.  I slogged through to the stop, drank more water, and cooled off in the shade for a few minutes.  We started off again and I felt a little better, but I was no longer able to focus on anything but watching each mile go by on the bike computer.  That, of course, only makes the miles go by more slowly.   

The last stop was at the grubby pizza place where they were serving slices of cheese pizza to riders.  My quads and triceps still hurt and my neck and shoulders joined the chorus of pain.  I drank more water and refilled my bottle before we left. We set off with at least the knowledge that we were on the last leg.  I suggested to our friend that when my odometer hit 100, I was done.  After all, I would have ridden a century at that point.  He laughed, but pointed out the car was not going to be at that point.  We hit the only hills of the ride in the last five miles of the ride.  They were not big hills, but they did give me a chance to stand up on the bike and use different muscles for a few minutes.  Seeing the turnoff for the parking lot was a huge relief:  the misery was over!

After the ride, I was trying to figure out what had gone wrong.  It was a little warm and I was drinking lots of water, but I think I wound up dehydrated anyway.  The pain in my long muscles did not feel like muscle weakness and I am not sore today, so I think it was related to electrolytes.  Normally, I drink some sort of sport drink in addition to water when I ride and I had forgotten to take it with me. For some reason, I never thought to dump one of my water bottles and fill it with the gatorade they had at the rest stops.  Complete foolishness, since I know about this stuff and even counsel people about it when I'm volunteering with Old Rag Mountain Stewards.  I basically made the ride much tougher on myself than necessary. 

All in all, even though it was a tough ride, it was a success.  It never crossed my mind to quit and we still rode a decent pace, in spite of everything.  I even enjoyed a lot of the ride.

No pictures today.


  1. Thanks for sharing this blog. Even though it's almost 2 years since then, your insight still provided (at least for me) vivid descriptions on how the event was organized, the condition of the roads along the route and what to expect on those rest stops. I am currently debating as to whether I will do the Shorefire Century this year. I've done a similar organized-ride in Maryland this year, and to be honest it didn't live up to my expectations in terms of chosen route (I prefer a loop rather than an out-and-back). And besides, the cheap $20 registration is too-good to pass up, but I still want to have an assurance that even though it's not expensive, the organizers are not putting the riders in jeopardy by including high-traffic roads in the route.

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