5.29.2013

Horsey Hundred Century Ride

As of this past Saturday, I've officially ridden my first century. The Horsey Hundred took me through 104 miles of Kentucky goodness along with four other pals. For a first century experience, I'd say I feel pretty good about it. I averaged just north of 14 miles per hour for the entire ride. And although I was the slowest of my group, I felt great about that time.

My goal was not to push it. I just wanted to finish. And as a guy who averages about 15 on most of my commutes, I'd say 14 mph is a pretty good time over 104 miles. I tried to make it clear to my riding buddies, though, that they could ditch me any time they'd like. But we would all reconnect at the rest stops. I don't think we ever got separated by more than a few minutes.

There's not really any photos of the event. I kept my phone in my bag the entire time. But, to be honest, most of the roads looked like the Kentucky landscape that is pretty typical of this blog. So I'm not sure that I'd be showing you anything new. You can read a great write-up and some more route detail over on Chris' blog. The most referenced point of the route comes between mile 50 and mile 70. Major climbing throughout those 20 miles. In a perfect world, I suppose, I would have liked those closer to the front of the ride... or not in the ride at all. But climbing is a part of riding. So ultimately, I wouldn't change a thing.
Rest stops were well equipped and well maintained. It seemed like we saw the same couple hundred people at every stop. Being that this was my first official cycling event, I was surprised at peoples' riding styles. I'd see the same riders blaze past me over and over again. So I'm assuming they were riding at a 20 mph pace and just sitting at the rest stop for an hour. My shorter breaks at the stops would put me ahead of them, then the actual riding would drop me back behind them.
I will say one negative thing about the ride, though. Some of the riders were kind of buttholes. I probably had nearly a dozen comments about my choices in attire and bike. One guy said, "Not very smart to ride this on a mountain bike." He was referencing my Surly Long Haul Trucker. It is not a mountain bike. The sarcastic jerk inside of me wanted to say, "Not very smart to look at this bike and think it's a mountain bike." But I held my tongue. I heard a couple guys at a stop light bagging on my two-inch wide tires. There were several comments about my basket. "You're more of a man than me to ride a bike with a basket," one guy said.

And here's the truth; in all honesty, those comments don't make me self conscious. I am 100% sure that I know more about bikes than those guys. I know that because I respect their $5000 carbon bikes. I respect their matching lycra kits. An understanding of something often leads to respect of that thing. So I didn't feel embarrassed. I just felt annoyed by their ignorance. Keep your comments to yourself. I think it's cool if you're riding a bike that's weight is measured in ounces. I think it's cool if you're riding your dad's old bike from college. I think it's cool if you're riding a mountain bike, a touring bike, a 'cross bike or a unicycle. I just think it's cool that you're riding.

There was a guy on the side of the road with a mechanical. "You need help? Have everything you need?" I asked. "Not unless you've got a frame with you. Mine cracked," he replied back. There was no part of me that wanted to tell him that his carbon frame was a bad choice. I was bummed that he couldn't ride. But I would never preach at him for having a different philosophy on what makes a good bike frame than my own.

Last year when I ran the half marathon, no one commented on my shorts or tennis shoes. No one said, "Look at that goob in the Asics." Runners don't feel a need to critique someone's else's style. Why do cyclists? I felt like it may have been somewhat stereotypical of club riders. I hate that. And it was those same type of people that were running red lights and yelling at cars at intersections. Yes, we have a right to be on the road... but so do the cars.

I have to say that it made me not want to do a ride like this again. I'd be all about riding 100 miles with some buddies to a camping spot. But I'm not sure that I want to do something like this again soon. Perhaps I'm being too sensitive. And, hear me out, this isn't an indictment on all cyclists. I've been riding with lots of people for many years now and I've loved every one of them that I've met. But this more organized ride gave me a sour taste in my mouth.

On the other hand, I did have several compliments on the LHT. The few that knew about it loved it. One lady rode up next to me on a fancy roadie bike and said, "An LHT! Mine is back home in California and I'm on this fancy loaner!" She said she was visiting her son in Kentucky before leaving on a tour of the California mines on her LHT. Very cool.

A couple others were excited to spot a Surly. They respected the bike because they understood it. One of them had a full kit of lycra and blazed past me at probably 22 mph. But he was pumped to see the Surly out there. So, by no means, were all of the riders jerks. I don't want to dwell on the negative at all. But I was caught off guard by the hater vibes. Those experiences tend to resonate in one's mind. But I wouldn't say that they dominated the positive experience at all.

I'm glad to have the mileage in the books and I'm excited to ride more centuries. I may not be up for a group ride like this soon. But that is no fault to the organizers of the Horsey. The ride and route was awesome. They did a phenomenal job and I'm incredibly glad I took part. I think I'm just more of a casual long distance guy.

Get out there.

22 comments:

  1. I can relate to your perspective on those who don't understand, and haven't ridden an organized ride in years. An organized ride has its benefits, but it was especially rewarding for me to realize that one can choose his riding companions and his route...and go any distance he chooses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm definitely of that same mindset.

      Delete
  2. Kudos on the first century! And thanks for the plug!

    I was on my sporty sport bike, and the thrill of going whippy fast is tantalizing, but I would have loved to have been on a LHT for the HH.

    If I can get it lined out (having some shifting issues) I'm going to ride my Xtracycle for the Preservation Pedal in a few weeks. It'll have 2" tires and fenders, plus all that backyard real estate, but since I'm doing so many organized centuries this year (FIVE!) I think I need to mix it up.

    Can't wait to hear the comments I'll get riding it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I looked for you... but you were at about mile 50 by the time I got started!

      Delete
  3. Speaking of unicycles: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/w6B9gepbEIKg7WCsH_AXl9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=directlink

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congrats on your first century. It's a real confidence booster reaching the 100 mile mark for the first time.

    I ride one organized ride a year. I'm not sure why. It's the Minnesota Ironman every April. It has a 47 year history. I always ride the 100 miler. If I were to describe the vibe at this event it would read exactly how your write-up read. It used to bother me. I'm slowly getting over it though. I go and ride my ride and let others ride theirs. It's fun to go and ride with 5,000 other people even if some are dickheads. Most people are nice, so I try to concentrate on them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Doug!

      I wouldn't say that I'll never do it again. But it's great to have a little perspective. I would totally say that most folks are great. But the b-holes certainly get negative attention.

      Delete
  5. It's a shame that some folks think they need to "enlighten" those of us who don't conform to their standard. In reality, they are probably the ones who need to be "enlightened". I love riding my go-fast carbon road bike, but my go-to machine is the Surly Cross Check with fenders and rack, and my attachment to that bike really makes me appreciate the folks understand the functionality and utility an appropriate bike can have as opposed to a machine that can only do one thing (even if it does that really well).

    And...I am way beyond the point where I want to pay money to ride my bike. Those experiences are few and far between for me these days.

    And finally...Congratulations on your first century!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tracy! I love a fast road bike. I would even say that my Cross Check is set up to go a lot faster than the LHT. But the CC is out of commission these days.

      Delete
  6. You looked awesome on the LHT (i saw some pictures) It was a real fun ride, I would have loved if you rode with us. 4 Surlys going down the road would have been quite the sight!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bravo. You did it! Now you can get on with the types of rides and camping that you really enjoy. I respect Surlys, whenever I see them, on whatever distance of ride.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congrats on the Century, Derrick! You probably would've done just fine even without the additional prep mileage!

    Your experience as an "odd man out" really struck a chord with me. A few years ago, I decided to do GABRAKY with a good friend of mine. This was when we were first getting interested in bike touring and bike camping, so we thought it would be a good exercise to take our touring bikes (my LHT and his Rivendell), AND we would carry all our gear on our bikes - even though GABRAKY is a fully supported ride. Needless to say, we were the only bikes with even remotely fat tires, and the only bikes that weighed over 20 lbs or so. Over the course of three full days of riding, we did just as you did - we took it easy, maintained about 12-14 mph, and finished each day feeling great. The rest of the riders treated us with curiosity and overly sympathetic comments, as if we were the ones torturing ourselves. This was ironic, because they were the ones hobbling around the rest stops, chomping down ibuprofen and complaining of aches and pains. They had spent 70-80 miles crushing it at speeds of 16-20 mph, not us!

    I can't say that anyone really treated us badly, but I did get the sense that we did not belong on a group ride like that, because everything seemed to be timed and organized around riders that rode at a certain pace (much faster than ours). It made me not want to do another ride like that again, and just confirmed the fact that I could do the same rides on my own, with friends that have the same riding style and philosophy as me, and I don't need a group of roadies, or a support van with clearly marked routes to do so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I spent a lot of time wondering if I was just self-conscious. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that their comments just weren't necessary. When I saw carbon bike guy with a cracked frame, there was NO part of me that wanted to comment on how dumb I think carbon is. It's because I don't think carbon is dumb. I just think it's purpose doesn't meet MY requirements. But just because it's different than my own, I don't assume it's appropriate to comment.

      Every bad comment came from an old dude on a REALLY nice bike. I just think they're naive. They're on the super nice bikes because a good salesman convinced them that it was the perfect bike. They don't even understand why they're on it.

      I'm starting to ramble, though. I'll stop. :)

      Delete
  9. One other thing I thought of... the next time some jerk on a "road" bike makes a comment about your LHT not being a road bike, or some similar nonsense, just inform them that it IS in fact a ROAD BIKE. It's a bike that you can ride on ALL ROADS. You can't say that about a 13 lb. carbon skeleton with 23 tires on it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for this post. I've got a century coming up this weekend and my road bike is in the shop (bent rim on back wheel following a blowout). My other bike is a geared Surly Cross Check. I was wondering how riding that bike would work out on a century. After reading this, I suspect I'd be fine.

    ReplyDelete
  11. And, like you, I love my Cross Check, a lot more than my road bike.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your Cross Check will TOTALLY be fine for the ride. Honestly, you'll probably be more comfortable than those roadies, anyway!

      Delete
  12. Greatly enjoyed the camping trip on 10/18. I have to say that my experience on organized rides was similar to yours. Most of the folks were nice, but others not so much. But I guess that mirrors society in general. Personally, I like riding to destinations not mileage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved camping, too! You guys were a great sampling of strangers in the cycling world. I had a blast chatting bikes all night with y'all!

      Delete