Friday, August 21, 2009

How do you train for a Century ride without a bike?

I am really on a roll right now, but my bicycles are not.

I noticed that the bike I had rode in the Copper Triangle in a couple of week ago was not functioning properly. The back wheel was sticking so I had to use my other bike, which was badly in need of a tune up.

I rode in the Span the Rockies ride last Sunday in Boulder Colorado. This was a really small ride that offered a 75K, a 130K and a 200K choice of distances.

I opted for the 130K(80.9) miles.

Most of the climbing occurred in the first 28 miles of the ride, but oh what a climb there was in the last mile or so of Left Hand Canyon.

I have a bicycle with a triple chain ring, which a serious cyclist would scoff at, but for a not very strong cyclist it keeps me on the road and help me be a more effective climber.

Problem is that I resist using the easier gear even though I know I am simply not a strong enough cyclist to take on steep ascents without it.

Left Hand Canyon is a fairly steady 16 mile climb. I did the first 9 miles of the climb in the big ring of my bike, which was a disastrous course of action. So at about the 21 mile mark of the ride, I relented and shifted into the middle ring of my bike, but by this time my legs were already burning.

The last time I rode in Left Hand Canyon was the year I was training for the 2003 Century ride and six years later, I had totally forgotten how much the road was about to turn up hill.

As the grade in the road began to increase, so did the burning in my legs and I began to feel very uneasy.

I am pretty sure at this point I was the last ride that was doing the 130K ride. I had not seen another cyclist with a number on their bike for a long time.

Six years ago, I thought of myself as a pretty good climber. Now I can't remember why I used to think of myself that way.

There were times during the climb, I could not turn my pedals over and I had to stop and rest even in my "Granny gear". I was spent.

Each time I tried to get back in the saddle and start riding again, I struggled getting my shoes clipped into my pedals. For some reason I could not get clipped in and I felt very fearful of falling again. I looked for a flatter spot to get back on my bike and continued to struggle.

For the first time that I can remember, I felt totally afraid as I failed repeatedly in my efforts to start pedaling again.

I don't know how many times I had to stop. As other cyclists zoomed by me, I pretended that I had stopped to drink some water and enjoy the scenery. I did get some good pictures at least out of my folly.

The last mile was so hard. Again I had to get off my bike and push it up the hill. Never have I had to this before. I felt like crying. I felt totally defeated.

Finally I made it to the top of the climb and mercifully encountered a 1/2 mile descent to the aid station.

Before starting a good stretch of descent, I put my jacket back on as it was quite windy and a bit chilly. Even during the descent I did not feel well. Any time I had to pedal for any amount of time felt horrible. My legs were shot.

I wondered how am I going to get back to the start line. I did not enjoy the descent. There were part of the road that had little or no shoulder and to make things worse the descent was into a head wind and a cross wind which really affects your balance on the bike.

I continued even during the descent to get off my bike and rest and take some pictures.

I was so relieved to make it to the next aid station at the 55 mile mark. There was only about a marathon left to pedal and would be mostly flat with a few rolling hills. My legs finally were feeling better where I could pedal again.

I chatted for a mile or so with a young man who was training for his first Ironman in November. It was the first time all day I was not riding entirely by myself. It was nice to have some company, but we soon turned different directions and I was by myself again.

A volunteer at the last aid station told me there were 15 miles to go. We headed east into a very uninteresting part of the ride. Ugh. Now there was not even any scenery to distract myself with.

Shortly before the 75 mile mark I almost stopped at a 7-11 to get something cold to drink. Any excuse to get off the bike. I decided to forge on. After a brief stop at a light, I crossed the intersection at Arapahoe and headed towards Baseline Road.

200 yards or so, something went horribly wrong. Suddenly I could not pedal. My chain locked up. I got clipped out of my pedals without falling and looked down at my bike. The jacket I had worn during the descent had fallen out of my jersey pocket landed on my chain and in a matter or seconds tore the derailleur off my bike.

I struggled to free my jacket from the chain. I had to remove the rear wheel and after finally freeing my jacket from a jacket eating chain, I knew the damage to my bike was beyond repair.

I was done riding for the day. I was still 6+ miles away from my car.

I was barely able to reattach the wheel to my bike and I set off to walk back to my car.

I pushed my bike on a very busy street in Bolder, sadly holding on to the chain of my bike.

I walked about two miles when a nice young man in a convertible offered to help me get my bike back to my car. He was willing to let my throw his bike in the back seat of a really nice convertible. I found out later the reason he had stopped was because I was wearing my Team In Training cycling jersey and he was a former participant. Go Team!!!

I finally made it back to my car after another misadventure with my bike.

What is up with all of these accidents? Out of the last 3 weeks, I have managed to bend a wheel, break a spoke during a fall when my chain slipped going up a steep incline, because I did not shift into a ring where I would be able to keep my pedals turning over.

Tripped on some uneven pavement while running, the next week and now this. The only good thing was this week I managed to break my consecutive week of falling streak.

However I am now 4 weeks away from a Century ride that I have been training for since May 9th and I don't have a bike.

I took in my Fuji bike tonight and luckily that will only cost $20.00 to true the wheel and replace a broken spoke.

I fear my Bianchi bike will be much more expensive to repair along with my confidence.

Can I really take on the Big Nasty in 4 weeks? Am I strong enough physically to do this?

I honestly do not know the answer right now.


  1. And here I am whining about 12miles on the bike - 80.8mi???

    hope your luck turns around soon.

  2. Ouch. I don't even know how to ride a bike, really.

    So, I think you're amazing. Especially with all of these obstacles.

    I believe in you, Ross.