|not too hot, but super humid!|
And Monday, I completed my second century ride, doing the Indian Head 100 Mile Ride in Indian Head, Charles County, MD. When I started to organize my training plan, I knew I wanted to do two centuries prior to race day. Having never gone more than 56 miles before, I thought it would be important to get to that 100 mark at least twice. So I found a list of organized rides around the state and picked the two that worked best. The first was last month on the Eastern Shore with my friend Sara. This second one was done in the southern part of the state, in Charles County. I went alone, as I felt it would be good training mentally of what race day will be like: me, the bike, and 6 to 7 hours to sit in the saddle and deal with it. Why "organized rides" instead of just doing the mileage on my own? Well, organized rides are mapped out well, have SAG support (call them if you break down or get hurt or whatever, they come pick you up), usually are in safe locations in as far as traffic is concerned, lots of other riders, and the food. Yes, food... at the rest stops where you can re-fill your water bottles and grab a granola bar or PB&J. Its so nice to have those little break areas built in.
So the Indian Head 100 is put on by the Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club. You can do a shorter route, including a metric century (60 miles). The Club had a strong presence at the ride, and they seemed to be a pretty neat group: older members and a few teenagers, men and women, black and white... all shapes and sizes. I enjoyed that. Sometimes, with triathlons, you get way too many elite fitness types who weigh as much as my leg... and they seems to sneer at us regular folks for getting into the fray. So a diverse group of normal folks was definitely fun to see... many of whom were zooming!! There were one or two tools with their aero helmets on and race wheels, but I just made fun of them in my mind! And it was spread out enough that I could use my aero-bars, which I will be doing almost exclusively at IMMD, so that was cool too.
Indian Head is about an hour and twenty minutes away. I wanted to start the ride as close to 7 a.m. as possible, so I was up before 5, fixing coffee and breakfast, loading up the car, etc. I headed down to Charles County and got there around 7. After I checked in, I got my helmet and shoes on, loaded up provisions on the bike and headed out.
|beginning and end of the ride|
Charles County, for those who don't know, is very rural. It starts south of Washington, D.C. and is flanked on the west and south by the Potomac River. You can cross into Virginia from Charles County, and bypass all the Capital Beltway traffic. Charles County was the last county in the State to get indoor plumbing... someone told me that one time and I tend to remember useless trivia. For example, President Taft had a size 52 waist and once got stuck in the White House bathtub. See? Useless trivia. I also remember dates and song lyrics really well... but I digress.
The first two-thirds of the route went along the west and south sides of the county, hugging close to the Potomac River. It is very wooded, so there was a lot of shade which was really nice. Kept the temperature under control until about 11, while the sun was mostly below the treeline. Then, it just got HOT!
The first rest stop, at around mile 20, was at Smallwood State Park... and they were serving up bacon egg and cheese muffin sandwiches. It was AWESOME! I mean, I did eat breakfast, but I love breakfast sandwiches! Yummo. Apparently, this bike club and this ride are known for this food stop of egg muffins... I can see why.
The course was mostly rolling hills... a few good climbs but only about 3200 feet total. After the first rest stop, I passed some guy, and he got all up on my wheel and drafted for the next 15 miles or so. I do not draft... one, you can't in triathlon anyway; but two, I am not a talented enough cyclist that I feel comfortable being up on top of someone and not freaking out if they shimmy one way or another. So I would rather not. But this dude, he was sneaky. I was going along after passing him, and all of a sudden I could hear gears changing, and I looked to the right and could see my shadow and his basically on top of mine. I sped up; he sped up. It was so annoying. I finally caught up with another group and we had a stop sign. So he pulled ahead and mooched off them for awhile, but not after I yelled "you could at least buy me dinner."
At another point, they sent us down a steep hill that bottomed out then climbed back up. At the top of the hill, starting to head down, there was a road sign that said BUMP. Bump? Where? What the heck?! I don't like downhills... or rather my collarbone doesn't. PTSD anyone? And BUMP is not good while careening at high speeds... and this hill was steep, so speed could not be avoided. And I'm a nervous-nelly. I kept watching for a bump and trying to keep my heart from leaping out of my chest... then at the bottom-out part there was this huge metal joint in the road...oh, THAT bump. It jolted me so hard, my water bottle behind my seat went flying out. I had started to ascend the hill but had to stop and get the bottle. I was going to sacrifice it but still had about 70 miles to go... and could tell it was just getting hotter.
I road through Port Tobacco, which is where John Wilkes Booth first tried to cross the Potomac into Virginia while escaping after assassinating Lincoln. The Lincoln assassination is one of my favorite aspects of American history, so I pulled of in the historic section to see the old courthouse and the historic marker. (Nerd Alert!). There was also Rose Hill, the sight of the Legend of the Blue Dog and the homestead of Thomas Stone, hero in the American Revolution. You can read more, if you are a history nerd too, by clicking here:Port Tobacco & Blue Dog Legend
|the old courthouse, before the county seat was moved|
|always time for a history stop, even at mile 75|
My last rest stop was at Mile 78. By then, it was 92 degrees, and the sun was well overhead and beating down. I tried to keep my breaks very short, because it is not like I'll be taking breaks like this in IMMD. But I really wanted to sit in the shade with everyone else for a spell. There was one last stop at mile 89, but I blew by it. By that point, I just wanted to be done. I was so hot.
|Charles County courthouse (because of course I took a photo of it||)|
The last 5 miles were on the Indian Head Rail Trail. It was a really pretty paved trail for bikers and runners, and it is apparently 26 mile long from end to end. There were mile markers there, but those markers only seemed to taunt me as to how close (and yet so far away) I was to finishing.
|the last part of the ride, on the Indian Head Rail Trail|
I would recommend this ride for sure. It is well marked, well organized, well stocked in food, lots of opportunities for rest stops as needed, and outstanding volunteers. Oh, and there were some neat history things to look at too. I felt strong, and I was proud that I got through it on my own.