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our first century of the season

It ended up not being bad at all, probably because I was one of the strongest guys in the pack. This is a nice thing about recreational rides: when I race, I’m a decently strong Cat 4, but nothing too terrific–strictly middle of the pack. When I ride a century, though, I am usually one of the strongest. We kept a good but not punishing pace for the first two hours, and averaged about 20 mph before the course started to take it out of us.This century has two problems, though. It hits every single hill in the county, and it hits one of them twice. These are not long, gradual climbs like you find in the west, either, but short, steep rollers that keep coming one right after another. And then it rained. At mile 80, the rain was coming down so hard that it was difficult to see the road. Right about here, the course veers off the roads and cuts across near a reservoir and over a dam on dirt roads. Correction: mud roads. As we rode through the mud, we were laughing hysterically and whopping at the rain. It was either that or get upset. The hilarity made what could have been a truly miserable ride (it rained or sprinkled for probably 60 of the 100 miles) fun.Normally a century is not epic. It has to have something special to make it epic. The rain and mud helped a lot, and then the finish topped it off. The three of us were the fastest finishers in the 100 miles ride (there were also rides of 15, 25, 50, and 75 miles), and as we approached the end, we were passing a lot of the riders from the shorter rides. We turned off of a small rural highway and on to the road that climbed gradually to the staging area, and I hit the corner as fast as the wet would allow. I saw two riders ahead of me, so I dropped the hammer down and passed them at about 21 mph. I felt like a pro as I leaned into the corners, climbing with my upper body relaxed, my legs spinning a big gear, flying up a hill after more than 5 hours in the saddle.When the three of us finished, we stood there whooping some more as a photographer took pictures while trying not to laugh at us. It felt really, really good to push that hard and feel like I had at least a little bit left at the end. We finished with an average speed of 18, which was great for a few Cat 4s riding the hills in the rain. It was epic.

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