This year, the Kentucky Century Challenge rides have been very eventful. The Redbud Ride began with two hours of rain and cold temperatures; the Horsey Hundred was perfect but for the drunk driver who killed Mark Hinkel.
While The Preservation Pedal was devoid of cold weather and drunk drivers, it was nothing like the hot and sunny ride around Winchester that we enjoyed last year. Tropical storm Bill made sure of that.
Like the Redbud Ride, the forecast was very fluid: for most of the week, the forecast had been for severe thunderstorms. On Friday, the forecast ranged from heavy rain to strong thunderstorms to scattered thunderstorms.
In the interests of safety, the Preservation Pedal organizers cancelled their support of the 100-mile route, and allowed century riders to ride two loops of the 51-mile route. The Kentucky Century Challenge committee also allowed riders to do an “alternative century” if they decided they did not want to brave the weather: they could do any verifiable 100+mile distance by July 26, provided that they had already registered for the Preservation Pedal.
Many riders took that option, quickly planning a ride for next Saturday that would involve the original 102-mile Preservation Pedal route.
I, on the other hand, decided to take a wait-and-see approach. If it was raining, but without lightning or tornadoes, I was willing to ride. Otherwise, I was going to opt to do the Louisville Ironman course–112 miles–next week and count that in lieu of Preservation Pedal.
So yesterday, I arrived early and–to my surprise–it was light rain but nothing really bad. Two others from the group with which I ride showed up. We headed out at 6:30.
Due to the road conditions and the rain, we decided to go easy. We were, for the most part, very familiar with the route because it dovetailed with the Horsey Hundred route and the weekly Midway rides organized by the Bluegrass Cycling Club. The bonus: by doing the 51-mile route twice, we were going to do the half-mile Peaks Mill climb twice. I was looking forward to that one!
The first 11 miles were easy; we arrived at the Millville stop before it was even open. We briefly took time to drink and then headed out to Stamping Ground. For most of that 19-mile leg, the rain was steady but bearable.
At Stamping Ground (mile 30), the rest stop was just opening, so we were able to get some goodies, use the port-a-potties, and head back out for the 21 miles to complete the first loop. On this leg, we encountered some heavier rains: on the downhills, the rain felt like pins and needles.
Pulling into the halfway point, we were soaked but feeling very good. I wasn’t even tired.
On the second loop, we encountered a rain delay when we arrived at Millville (mile 62). No sooner than we got there, the torrential rains kicked in. We decided to just sit it out and chat with a few other riders, as the weather radar indicated the worst was almost over. 15 minutes later, the rain let up and we headed out to Stamping Ground.
The 19 miles into Stamping Ground were fairly easy: the rain was very light, the temperature was mild, and there weren’t any brutal hills–only rollers. I was feeling very good: neck was only mildly sore, but my butt wasn’t sore at all. My legs were also feeling very good. Honestly, I felt I might have plenty in the tank at the finish.
That last 20 miles were mild. The rain was pretty much gone, except for some intermittent drizzle. I also enjoyed doing the Peaks Mill climb the second time. Once we got to US-127, it was pretty much downhill and flat from there.
I was still soaking wet from all the rain, but–other than that–felt great at the finish.
Overall, very few riders showed up for the century option yesterday. Normally, our slow-ride group gets passed quite a bit by others who start later. That didn’t happen this time. The rest stops were darn-near empty, with lots of goodies available.
For this year, I decided that anyone who does all four Century Challenge rides is going to have some serious bragging rights forever.
While I don’t want to take away from anyone who does the “alternative century” next Saturday, I think there’s something to be said for doing your ride on the day of the event.
This year, I signed up for the Louisville Ironman triathlon, which involves a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full 26.2-mile marathon. It’s on October 11, and–if I don’t like the weather–it’s not like I will be able to do an “alternative Ironman” to get my medal.
My point: every endurance event is going to have a “suck factor” involved. Unless the conditions are fundamentally unsafe–lightning and other severe weather are my deal-breakers–I think you just have to embrace the suck and fight through it.
Having said that, I understand why the Kentucky Century Challenge folks went with the “alternative century” option, and I can’t say it was a bad idea. (After all, the forecasts were for severe weather.)
After all, this gives incentive for riders to register for the Hub City Tour in September; it allows those who missed the Redbud Ride a chance to stay on track to earn their 300-mile jerseys; and it also provides incentive in future years for people to take on the Kentucky Century Challenge.
Still, like I said, those of us who braved all three–through the cold and rain (Redbud) and the rains (Preservation Pedal)–will have bragging rights.
The official century rides on my end are over until September (Hub City Tour). Still, in the meantime, I plan on riding the Louisville Ironman course at least once in both July and August.
In terms of Ironman preparation, I can feel the progress. This is the best I’ve ever felt at the end of a century ride. I felt like–if I’d had my running shoes and shorts–I could have done at least a half-marathon.