The day didn't start out exactly how it was planned. A couple of friends of mine planned an 80 mile ride with a large group of riders that would make a loop out around Don Pedro Reservoir (The Map My Ride shown above). It was my intention to do this ride with the group. When I looked at the ride profile I saw there were a couple climbs... nothing too hard core, but definitely something I would need a different cassette for. I have been running a 12-21 Cassette, which works great for rides that are fairly close to home, but as you get up in to the foothills and beyond the 21 tooth high gear is no where near high enough. So, Friday, I made my way down to my Favorite LBS and got myself a SRAM 12-26 Cassette which is as good as it gets with my set up as the 12 (low gear) is the smallest cog that will work with my derailleur and the 26 (high gear) is the very largest my derailleur will handle. I also picked up some Energy Gels and some extra large water bottles as well. After I got home from getting my new Cassette, I made it a point to go for a spin and check out the shifting etc. just to be sure everything would function properly. I rode about 30 miles at a fairly relaxed pace and everything was smooth and working perfectly. I could shift through all gears from either Small or Big Chain ring.
So... Saturday morning arrived... I got out of bed, had a bowl of Oatmeal, got all my things together and at about 7:00 off I went. Everything was going fine, until I made it about 10 miles away from home (which was about 12 miles from where I was going to meet the group, at the corner of Lake and Los Cerritos @ 8:30) It was at the corner of Whitmore and Hickman road... I shifted down in to my small chain ring because I was going to have to make a stop at the sign for traffic. After I got through the 4 way and started getting back up to speed I went to shift back up in to my Big chain ring and it was a no go. So I shifted back down and tried it again... STILL, no go. I got off my bike and took a look at what was going on and I couldn't for the life of me see what would cause the bike not to shift in to the big chain ring. I messed with it for a few minutes knowing that now the clock is ticking and if I don't get this square quick I'm going to be late. I kept trying to figure out what would be the cause and nothing was apparent. So I thought to myself... "Do you really want to ride what will end up 100 miles with a malfunctioning front derailleur?" I thought about just turning around and going home to fix the problem. But then I decided to just manually shift the damn thing in to the big ring and do this thing... But now I'm running late. When I got on to Lake Rd I had about 12 miles to go till I was at the corner I was supposed to be at, and it didn't seem like I was going to have enough time. So, I just beared down and started my Individual Time Trial to Los Cerritos Rd. What was supposed to be a nice moderate ride to the meeting place was now a pretty intense work out. At a couple points, I looked at my speedo, and I was registering 26 mph, 28 mph, 25 mph... I knew I still had a long ride to go but I figured I could just sit in the group if I caught up.
When I got to the corner of Lake and Los Cerritos, @ 8:39, I was expecting to find (rather, I was hoping to find) a group of riders... It turns out over 50 riders showed up for this ride... But the picture shows you what I found. I was 9 minute late and the group had moved on with out me. I tried to burn down Lake road (the direction they went) for a couple miles hoping to see thm but they were long gone. On the way back up the road, to the corner, I had a decision to make. I looked at my cyclecomputer and it was showing 22 miles... I thought to myself that if I went home now it would be a respectable 40 miles. But I was also thinking that I had set my goal of 80 to 100 miles for the day and 40 miles was no where near that goal... So, then the question popped in to my head... "What would Johnny Hoogerland do?" And the choice was clear. Johnny Hoogerland would point his bike in the direction of the finish line, he would MTFU, and he would start to pedal... regardless of having a small chain ring or not.
So that's what I did... I decided that I had left the house with the intention of riding an 80+ mile loop so I decided that I wasn't going to back out now. And I headed in my own direction down Los Cerritos road. I started working out a route that took me down roads that I was at least familiar with and began plotting a route that would be a 100 mile ride. I figured it was early, it was cool, and if I'm going to do my first Century in 18 years (and first ever SOLO Century) today was as good a day as any. I also wanted to work out a route that would keep me reasonably close to water and supplies if I needed them.
While I admit my course for a century was not an ideal one... where I rode down Lake Rd twice and made a double loop out of it... It was a good course to try myself out on a SOLO century where I was on familiar roads... I knew where I was at all times... and I wasn't a Million miles away from home, if something went wrong (or went worse than not having the ability to shift chain rings). All in all though it went really well, I was actually surprised I good I felt through out the entire ride, there were times near the end that I had wished I had the ability to go down in my small chain ring on the rollers once I started to feel the miles. But I stayed perfectly well hydrated, by stopping off at the Hickman store (my second time by) and the energy gels and Oatmeal bars were perfect for keeping the hunger away.
All in all... for having been back on the bike for 2 months after being off of it for 18 years... I'm pretty happy with myself for going ahead and doing the ride on my own even though I had problems in the morning. To do 102.4 miles by myself is something I had never done before. Every other time I've done a Century (back when I was in great riding shape) It had always been with a group of friends, where I had the benefit of a draft, and some riding companions to break up the monotony. I had every opportunity to turn off towards home at 50 miles (making it a 60 mile, or so ride) but didn't hesitate to continue on down the road and make my second loop. At about 70 miles I was feeling good, but I must admit that I began hearing Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin making race calls in my head... not sure if anyone else ever has this happen to them... Maybe it's just because we're in the middle of the Tour right now and I've been watching the coverage everyday, I'm not sure. Or maybe it was because I was getting delirious... All in all... I would have loved to ride with the group I originally set out to ride with, but the way it worked out, I'm happy with the way the ride went. I think I was able to answer some questions about myself I wouldn't have been able to answer if I had ridden with the group rather than going it alone. (But I will be doing that loop we were going to do... soon)
See ya out there on the roads!