It doesn’t seem that far.
In the grand scheme of things, 100km is a small distance. If anything it’s an infinitesimally small distance. In terms of my cycling, it’s a big one. If anything it’s a huge milestone for me to break. The plan was to break this later on in the year after increasing the distance slowly. At the moment 80k was the next goal to break. Having completed several 60k rides and a couple in to the 70k region, I knew 80k was a good place to get to. So after Jarod suggested a ride to Waterfall and back to Redfern, which was a 76.5km run on Google maps so squeezing a few more km somewhere and a 80k ride was mine to take. That was the plan (the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley).
Leading up to the ride was the dreaded start time. We wanted to be a Redfern at 7am. Now I’m no morning person and 7am start for me is hell. The second thing with this is that I needed to be at Redfern for 7am. So, either train it down or cycle. I didn’t even look at the train times, I just looked at the map. It was an easy route and I mapped it to be about 10km ish. So with lights and at a gentle pace that’s 30-45mins. I also know that most of that is a flat run so it’ll be a good warm up for me. So +10km and I have to be up earlier anyway so might as well start riding. Mental prep had started; rather than starting cold I’m going to be warm and it’ll be easier.
The mental prep started earlier in the week. I’m going to need a bib, chaffing cream, spare tubes and energy bars/gels. I had two GU chocolate outrage bars left at home, so I was taking then. I purchased two proteinFX choc malt bars too. Tubes I have, just in case as well as a repair kit. That left the bib and cream. I headed into town and got some Aussie Butt Cream. Yes it has and unfortunate name, and it’s kind odd asking about butt cream when you’re in a cycling shop, but I left my embarrassment at the door and did so. I’d heard good things about wearing bib shorts and the Bontrager Gary Fisher ones had good reviews, so I picked up some of these as well. I didn’t think when I’d got these that I was going to turn into a Gary Fisher advertisement with both a Gary Fisher bike and bib shorts. Comfort was more on my mind. So mental prep was set. I knew I had enough food and the right kit. So the only thing that was going to stop me completing the ride was my body and fitness.
The physical prep started the night before. I didn’t go climbing on the Friday night. I had a big bowl of pasta and I took it easy. I went over the bike twice, checked the tires and filled up the saddle bag with all of the repair stuff. I have new pedals that I wanted to put on, but I didn’t change them in fear that they could be set wrong and I didn’t want to find that out 50km in. The water bottles were even filled up and the energy bars laid out ready for me to put in my pocket. I even went to bed earlier than normal. I have to say I didn’t sleep too well. My mind was occupied with having to get up and ride that distance. Noises woke me up a few times, only to look at the clock and realise it wasn’t time to get up. At some point I must have fallen fully asleep as the alarm woke me up. 5.50am.
Things are loud at 5.50am. Every noise you make feels amplified. The cat was confused at me moving around at this time, but he didn’t seem to care when I let him out on the balcony. So now it was real. I was awake. The butt cream applied, the bib shorts and jersey on. Next the sun tan lotion. I’d got caught out the week before on a 60km ride and got badly burnt. I wasn’t going to happen today. Finally arm warmers. 6am.
Next was some starter fuel for me. Two slices of toast. This should see me through for sure. The pop of the toaster sounded like a gun going off though. Buttered and down my gob they went. A quick shot of water and I was about ready to go. Got the cat and bike in from the balcony. Phone, keys and wallet in the zip pocket of the jersey. Helmet, shoes, gloves and glasses on. 6.15am. Okay on time here we go.
The streets felt like the start of 28 days later. I avoided the temptation to scream “HELLO?!” to the rest of the world. But alarm bells did go off in my head; it’s early and there are not many people around. You’ll need to be more alert here. The first form of life I saw was the drunken rambler on their way home (might have well been 28 days later). The second, a cyclist. They caught me up at a set of lights, said morning and off they went. Any other day I would have been on their wheel playing it’s not a race. Not today. Today was about pace, being calm and thinking each move through. This was the first 10km of a longer plan, simply a warm up. As I headed to the bridge more and more cyclists appeared. I was now in the world of the Saturday morning riders, those crazy people who are up early to do a long rider before the rest of the world is awake and crap now I’m one of them.
Even the Police seemed to aware of the cyclists that time. Coming down Sussex street I was watched by a sole police car. There was only us on the road and I was stopping and waiting at every light. They seemed to want me to jump one so they could pull me over or at least that’s how it felt. They’d moved on before I’d gotten to Redfern and turned off somewhere in the city. So here I was at Gibbons St & Lawson St waiting for Jarod to arrive about 10-12minutes early. I felt good and this was going to be a good ride.
The 10 minute wait confirmed we were not going to be alone either. Multiple pelotons passed me waiting. It was a good site to see and there was every kind of bike out there. Again good to see. Being on a fast city hybrid can show less roadie cred that’s for sure. And then turns up Jarod, on the the Salsa. This means a single speed over that kind of distance. I have such respect for that man. The usual shake of the hands a quick chat and we were off. I think there was a noted point about doing the 10kms first and would I still be saying it was a good idea near to the end. Something in the back of my mind said he might be onto something there.
Before I knew it we were on the Princes Highway. It’s then it all clicked. There was no-one around, lanes to ourselves, setting our own speed. I suddenly understood the appeal of the ride at this time. I wasn’t the hectic work rush which makes up most of my rides. It was pure riding fun, stopping only for lights. I lost track of time and fell into the motion of just turning the crank. It was great. Jarod mentioned he’d never got down as far as Waterfall before and mentioned something about Heathcote or Loftus. Waterfall was my destination and that’s were we were going. I knew that’d we push each other to get there too. Seeing the other riders on their way back said to me, well if they can do it…
The excitement of that, plus the empty roads the speed we were travelling at, I forgot that I’d only eaten two slices of toast and done 10km already. This was going to hurt me earlier that I expected. It came after what jarod said “Three annoying hills”. And annoying they were. They sap the energy from you. Your legs burn and god it hurts. There was, for me, an interesting point about the hills. Jarod on the single speed moves faster up the first part of the hill. I stay in my 90RPM style cadence shifting gears. By the time we are hitting the top I’m catching him. It really drove the point home about climbing sensibly and not reacting to others on a climb. Do it in your own pace, don’t go off hard and you will catch them. After the last annoying hill I started to eat. It was about 15mins too late. My body really needed the food and I got slight stomach cramps as it digested. This was made worse by the lanky bearded streamer toting mountain biker. I mean he had a 80’s style mountain bike with streamers. We joked about catching him on the downhill. It hit 65.3kph and did catch him as he started the climb up the hill.
I then hit a mini wall. No energy. Nothing. Jarod passed me. “Shut up legs” as Jens Voigt says didn’t help. I just had to keep turning. The hill hurt and I was losing speed up it. Jarod was getting further away. Lanky bearded streamer toting mountain biker even further away. Somehow I got up the hill and we pulled over and had a rest. I was thankful for it to be honest and it gave my body time to get the energy into me. We joked about lanky bearded streamer toting mountain biker and the speed he went up the hill. To be fair to him, he was setting race pace up it. After 10mins resting we were off again. I felt better and I was nibbling more food down. We were going to get to Waterfall.
A couple more riders past us; we pulled over at a BP garage to get some more water. Turns out we hit the only one without water. So Gatorade it was. 1 bottle of purple flavour and one of lemon&lime. I took purple. And off again. What you don’t realise here is that you are climbing to waterfall. It’s a slow upwards travel. It doesn’t feel like it and you are moving a good speed and rhythm. Before we knew it we were there. Waterfall. If anything it’s kind of uneventful. You go over the bridge, along the footpath and back down the other side. For me it was the time to suck down the GU gel. I think I tried to suck out the foil from the middle of it at the same time. Jarod joked about me doing so; I must have looked silly or really hungry.
The slow uphill that we’d been doing now paid off. The ride back started to fly. Boy it’s awesome. You’re travelling at a fast tempo, you don’t notice the speed and the distance just falls away. The way was good, but the way back is better, much much better. The undulating hills that you coast up on the way there just propel you back to Sydney at speed. The hills we did get to didn’t seem that bad any more. Well not to me. Jarod did say something about dam me and dam my gears. We passed two roadies with punctures and checked they were okay. They seemed to think us odd for doing so though. But for me one of the best things that we saw was a group of 6 riders.
To put it simply, they passed us. On a slight downhill, we are talking a small one here, they were travelling at 55km as a group. For me it was a holy crap moment of amazingness. That’s just so awesome. And then they were gone.
We stopped twice more. Once for a coffee (small double shot latte at Macca’s) and another Gatorade run. I’d been nibbling away at my food the whole time and was feeling good. Like really good. The joke through the whole ride was was I going to cycle home from Redfern. The responses varied from “I’ll see how I feel”, “it’s only 10km”, “maybe”, “i don’t know”. At some point I think I’d mentally accepted that I was going to anyway. Plus 10 more km. Suddenly I was going to do 100km today. Somehow I think deep down I was prepared for that to happen and wanted to happen. The hard part was going to be the uphill from Kirribilli to North Sydney. More energy sapping hills. Not really what you want at the end of 100km.
Before we knew it, it was Redfern again. We congratulated each other on the ride talked about doing it again. I sucked down the last GU gel. I was off again. Through the city, down to Clarence Street, onto Kent street to the bridge. The Harbour Bridge hurt. There was a cycling sydney tour stopped half way taking up the whole crossing. They eventually moved out of the way. Kirribilli. I went and filled up the water bottle one last time. The last set of hills. The pacific highway one was okay; blue street hurt a little. Miller street was good though. At no point did I move into the granny gear. Middle chain ring was worked hard, screamed “SHUT UP LEGS” more than once, but I got up them. Personally I couldn’t believe it. I started towards home. 99.05, 99.06, 99.07 cramp.
Big Big cramp all down my left quad. “SHUT UP LEGS” times about 50 went through my head. On a downhill I unclipped and shook my leg violently. I must have looked pretty stupid at this point. But I didn’t care. I was almost home and I’d done over 100km. The last roundabout sealed it. I felt amazing, well as amazing as you can after that distance. The cramp must have accepted it too, as it settled a little. For me I broke a milestone that I expect not to break for a good few months. The crazy thing about it was that I want to do it again. It was an addictive ride and one for sure to do again.
So, the stats:
101.69km – 4hrs 7 mins 9 sec
24,59km/h avg – 65.3 km/h max
Calories (MET) burnt – 3460
Calories consumed – 957
Fluids consumed – 3.4L
Jarod’s shorter account of the ride is here. I too am proud of what we achieved and have the bug too. I can’t wait to do the ride again. As for the next mile stone to be broken, well I think that’s going to have to the imperial 100 mile marker. So that’s 161km. I’m sure Jarod will be up for that too!