Riding 100 miles on a bicycle seemed unreachable to me when I started training on my road bike in April. I guess it was about May when I decided I would make my first bike race the 100 mile Hotter N Hell ride in Wichita Falls. The race is always held 2 weekends prior to Labor Day, so that puts it toward the end of August and yep, you guessed it, 100 degree heat. After about 3000 miles of training in the 5 months leading up to the race, I guessed my finishing time would be about 6 hours if everything went well. This was an absolute guess since my longest training rides were about 65 miles.
Hell's Gate is located 62 miles into the race. Three hours and 19 minutes was my time as I stopped my watch at Hell's Gate to refill water bottles. I was way ahead of schedule and feeling better than I thought I would. Just after Hell's Gate you make a turn to the west to head back into Wichita Falls. Immediately after making the turn, somewhere around mile 70, I realized it was going to be a long ride home as the 25 mile per hour wind hit me right in the chest. I hunkered down in my aero bars, put my head down, and just kept turning the crank.
My legs felt like they were on fire as I crossed the finish line in 5 hours, 50 minutes, coming in 10 minutes faster than goal time. I got off the bike, reached down to take off my shoes and my legs immediately cramped terribly. Wow, what the hell am I doing this for was what I thought for only a few seconds. My mind quickly went back to the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I felt as my tires rolled across that finish line. Every workout, every ride, every run, every weightlifting session, hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of training all added up to this moment that made it all worthwhile.
Next year I will be entered again and have a new goal to break 5 hours, which means I will have to average over 20 miles per hour. Man is that going to hurt. I can't wait.