Today I woke at oh-dark-thirty to ride in the Murfreesboro Bicycle Club H.O.T 100 century. Frankly it was a pleasant event through some very hilly Middle Tennessee countryside. After the last two events I’ve ridden this summer I wasn’t expecting this event to be terribly demanding. I was wrong. It was a nice challenge made even more so by the weather. Only this time it wasn’t rain, cold or heat.
A nice crowd of a few hundred people (I’m not good at estimating) rolled out en masse from Lascassas Elementary School. Unlike the last two rides I wasn’t exactly humble about getting to the front quickly and riding a tempo I am used to on most rides. I’ve never really rode these events for time in the past as the goal was always to finish. I decided that I wanted to do a sub-6 century and even counting stops be back to the car in 6 hours. The route was basically two large loops. If you were doing the 100 route you went out on the second loop.
The route was rather challenging. It was rarely flat. Lots of little rolling hills. They kept coming and coming and coming. They didn’t stop until I got back to the parking. There was one nice climb at around 30 miles that was quite surprising. I looked down and there was a percent grade written on the road. 16%. Then 15%. 14%. All the way to 11%. Are you kidding me? Maybe in Chattanooga, but in nowhere Mid TN? It was a nice grind.
After that climb there was a rest stop which I decided to bypass. I decided that I was going to treat this event just like my normal Saturday rides that are 50+. I wouldn’t stop until rest stop 3 at 53 miles. I stopped at the last two to get more water/Heed and food. And let me say that the sponsors that put those together did an incredible job. They had anything and everything that you could possible want. From gel squirts to watermelon to beef jerky. I was extremely happy to see the beef jerky. I’d been using that to boost my sodium levels over the last week.
There was another surprisingly long climb across a ridge within some woods. I think it was Pleasant Ridge and it was no joke. It was a very long climb. Maybe 2 miles or a little longer? You may be riding in the middle of Tennesse but don’t underestimate the topography. It’s too bad there aren’t some mountain biking courses built around there.
I’m not certain if there were a lot of people that did the 100 miles. I rode in a couple of fast moving pace lines that was fun but for the most part I dangled out on the course alone. Probably 90% of the time I rode solo.
Which ended up being problematic. Somewhere around 60-70 miles the wind picked up. Nothing messes with my mind more than wind. And it seemed like I was mostly pushing into a head wind. It was so tiring. The last 20 miles were rather brutal. I remember coming down a decline where I would have expected to be going 20+ and I could only go 13 mph. That was disheartening. I had never ridden that long in the wind. And I was alone so it didn’t make matters easier either.
Ever since Cherohala I had been worried about cramping. I got a calf cramp around 80 miles which was a drag but I worked through that. I drank a lot the few days before. Ate a lot of high sodium foods and snacks. Way more than usual. I ate a banana 2 hours in. Another banana at 4 miles in. Took 1 Enduralyte about every hour. Stayed hydrated.
The roads were a drag in the 100 mile loop and a few other sections. They were old farm roads with potholes and extremely tooth rattling rough texture. It was horrible in places. But there aren’t a ton of roads in Mid TN so they worked with what they had a came up with an overall good course.
I happily finished the whole course, rest stops and all, well under 6 hours. If I didn’t have to deal with the wind and stayed in a paceline for more than half the time I feel like I could have gone sub 5 for ride time. That will be a goal for another time. The route was a bit over 101 miles. It was a good day. And I was glad to ride an event that was close to home.