Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guest Post: Back Roads Century Tour Report

So, I am having the one and only M (aka Jason) do a guest post today on his experience at the back roads century. I would have written a tour report myself, but I was a wimp and only road 51 miles of it despite feeling like a million bucks at the end of those 51 miles! This is the first century ride that he has finished and I am so proud of him. So without further ado here is M's Tour Report:

Let me just say that the course was very very hilly! 4600 total foot of climbing! Not bad for my first century!

Elevation Profile UGH!

We departed bright and early at 5:30 am on our way to Berryville Virginia from Capitol hill. We packed some breakfast bars, shot blocks, gatorade, and water. For breakfast, I had some yogurt parfait, a protein bar, and a banana for some much needed fuel.

We arrived in Berryville at 730 am and parked in the Fairground parking lot and proceeded to get ready. It was very cold probably around 55 degrees and damp, so everyone was freezing. My friend Wyn forgot to wear long pants and a long sleeve jersey so he was very cold. However, myself and Sarah had bought arm warmers from Hudson Trail the day before so only our bottom halves were cold. After getting ready for about 20 minutes, we proceeded over to the High School to start the Century!

Getting Ready before the ride!
Getting our gear ready before the ride!
We started off at around 8 am that morning feeling pretty good. The weather was still cold but you warmed up as you started riding. There were over 2000 people registered for this century so the course was pretty packed at the start. The start was pretty quick, I think we were averaging 20+ miles per hour according to the Garmin. We past all sorts of Countryside scenery - cows, horses, barns, rednecks, etc! 

Beautiful Back Roads Scenery!
  As we got settled into the ride, you started to notice one overwhelming theme - HILLS! As seen above with the elevation chart, this is one hilly ride. It seemed like there was nothing but one hill after another AND no downhills just uphill. Once you got up one hill, you would see another hill taunting you and daring you to attack it!


More Hills!

About 3 hours into the century, we looped back to the High School for our second rest stop. This was where the first loop of the figure 8 ended. We stopped to eat some nutrition and to rest. Wyn had fallen behind because his shoes weren't clipping in and his muscles were spasm-ing, so he decided to only do the first 50. Sarah decided to only to the first 50 because she has 3 half marathons to run back-to back- to back.

Sarah after finishing the first 50!

Jason at mile marker 50!
Jason and Wyn resting at the 50 mile marker!

After resting for what seemed like an eternity, which in reality was 45 minutes and probably too long, I started the second half of the century, which is even worse than the first 50 in terms of hill climbing. Prior to starting out, I noticed that my gears weren't shifting right so i took it to the mechanics over at the Spokes tent and they fixed me right up. 

Since, I was going into the second half of the ride solo, I decided to tag along with a group of riders. I choose to tag along with a group of lady's in Pink jerseys. From mile 50 to about 78, I stuck with one of the ladys in pink and we attacked the hills and participated in pace line. This definitely made the second part of the century bearable. 

I would say this part of the century was the hardest because there were hills after hills with 7% or greater ascents followed by another ascent. Right around here there was a hill that look to be vertical, so I lowered my gear to the lowest gear and got out of the saddle and barely made it up the hill. So another rider (Mister Pittsburgh) was laughing at me because he said these hills were weak. I guess he does mountain climbs in the hills around Pittsburgh. 

Around mile 78, there was a rest stop with their world famous tomato sandwiches which actually tasted pretty good. The food at the rest stops were pretty good. They had cookies, goldfish crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, orange slices, and more! After spending about 25 minutes at this rest stop, I decided to press on solo for the next 13 miles to the next rest stop.

Food at one of the rest stops!

People at one of the rest stops!

From mile 78 to 91, there were of course more hills but I got in the zone and was able to finish the hills without too much pain in my legs. Of course, I was switched to my lowest gear and out of the saddle a lot of times. I stopped at the mile 91 rest stop for about 10 minutes. I met up with two riders (one DC Tri member who posted on the forums about being ticketed at Haines Point) . We proceeded to ride into Berryville to finish the century. 

Overall it was a very well organized and well run century. The volunteers were awesome and they had plenty of rest stops. The course was well marked. I would probably do it again next year. I finished around 6 hours and 20 minutes of total riding time.

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