As we are approaching the starting line, we pass a side ride, and Scott says to me, "I'm glad we don't have to climb that hill. It's terrible. I've driven it many times." Several miles down the road, we start passing bicyclist going the other way. Well, at least we know it starts off flat.
We pulled into the parking lot, went to the lodge to use the bathrooms, get a map, and anything else we needed. We unloaded the bikes and put on our cool weather gear (it was 55F when we started), and headed out at about 7:45am. It was still brisk at this point, and I hurled down the road at 19mph, just to stay warm. I was glad I ordered arm warmers earlier in the week, otherwise I think I would have frozen out there.
5 miles down the road, we approach the road that Scott had mentioned it'd suck to have to ride. Well, the marking indicated we were to turn onto it. Great, I thought, we are climbing that hill, and only 5 miles in. At least I was warm by the time we got to the top of it. I wasn't moving too fast, but I made it. For the next several miles, it was relatively flat, and we cruised around a bit, passing by the first SAG station (rest stop), feeling pretty good about ourselves. We cruised down a nice hill, where I attempted to take picture of Canadaigua Lake. We got to the bottom of the hill and turned right.
As I headed along this road, which continued downhill, I thought something was amiss. I peaked up from the road and noticed a massive hill lurking ahead of me. Not more than 10miles after the last big hill. It looked relatively short (1/2 a mile), so I started going up it. People passed me, I passed people. Eric and Travis took off, Scott fell behind. I was chatting with some people going up the hill, and I got about 1/2 way up and I said to the guy next to me, "Only 1/4 mile to go!" He asked, "You sure?" I exclaimed, "I hope so!" It turns out I was wrong. The hill continued for another mile, at grades which I have never done before. 8-12% of merciless hill. I stopped for about 1 minute 1/2 way up the hill because my heart was about to explode. We got to the top of the hill, made a left and went down a hill to another SAG station. I was ready to stop at this point, so we did. I drank a bunch, and ate what I could, but felt pretty nauseated at this point. 10 minutes later, we headed back up the hill we just went down, and I ran into the back of Travis (going 1mph), and fell over. D'oh.
We continued on our route for another 10 miles, going up a small hill, and we stopped when we heard a bagpiper playing. He was in the cometary at the top of Bopple Hill. A road which we didn't have to do, but the Highlander people did. A road that climbs 800ft in less than a mile. It makes people cry. We went down the next hill, missing our turn by 1/4 of a mile and getting back on track. The next 15 miles were pretty uneventful, with small hills, but nothing I couldn't handle.
The next rest stop, I ate more food. I tried to eat some pretzels while riding, but that was a mistake. It's very hard to chew when you are gasping for air. That was a mistake (I ended up spitting out most of the pretzel). Several more small hills later, and I was ready to cruise. I said to our group, "Time to crank out some miles!" Scott cursed at me, but I took off anyway, with Eric right on my tail. The next 7-8 miles were done at better than 40mph. I was loving it. I looked back and saw Eric, but no one else. Did I miss a turn? I was looking for marking. I was pretty sure we were on the correct road. Eventually, a few more people passed me as I waited for Scott and Travis. 10 minutes later, Scott and Travis come over the 'hill'. Turns out Scott had a wobble in his front wheel, which wasn't very nice at 40mph, so he bailed into the grass. We continued into the next town, over a newly cindered road, and rested and ate. We were 50miles in at this point, with a time of around 4 hours. Ugh.
We turned down the west side of Honeyoye lake and continued our ride without seeing anyone for the next 15 miles. I think we only saw 5-6 cars. I was bored silly at this point. We saw a hill looming in the distance eventually and all thought, "that hill is going to suck." As we got closer, we thought, "it isn't so bad." It turns out our first impression was right. The hill rose at a nice 7-9% for about 2 miles. I didn't have a problem with it, but it wasn't nice. Once we got over that, we went down a magnificent hill, which I had to break most of the way down to not hit the car in front of me, and of course, there was a stop sign at the bottom of it. Welcome to Naples, NY!
As we headed east through Naples, I noticed a rather large hill looming in the distance, with cyclists approaching it. I was more than pleased when we turned onto a side road, and headed away from the hill, on a relatively flat road. At one point, I hit a rather large bump, and my seat got out of alignment. The next 15 miles were painful. They were made more painful by the massive hill at mile 70. It extended for about 2-3 miles, with an average grade of 8%. I made it up without too much of a problem, and even chatted with a lady 1/2 way up the hill. We cruised down the road a little further, and turned onto a road which I can only describe as defeating. A short, but memorable hill rode sharply out of the earth riding at a grade ranging from 12-15%. It was only 1/8th of a mile long, but it hurt. I have never in my life climbed a hill that steep. It level off for a bit before heading downhill to the next SAG stop, where I adjusted my seat, ate, and was ready to start up again.
What lie ahead of me could only be described as cruel. I was at mile 80 at this point with no feeling left in my legs, and the hills just kept rising. 10-12% hills about 2 miles of them, with only minor reprises of what could be called, 'flat', which was only a hill of 2-3%. I got to the top of those and just wanted to quite. I didn't even have enough energy to go down the next hill, which I was looking forward to going down just 10 miles earlier. What was even more mentally defeating was knowing that the hill that I saw in Naples that I didn't have to climb, I was going to have to climb; 91 miles into a 100 mile ride. At this point, by back hurt, my neck hurt, and my arms hurt. I just wanted to quite, but I didn't want to wait around for someone to pick me up.
This final climb of the day was brutal. I was out of energy, it was hot, and a hill with an 7-10% grade rose in front of me, 4 1/2 miles long. I got about 200 yards up the hill when I started walking. I walked maybe 100 yards before some overweight guy passed me, gave me the "I'm better than you" look, and generally just pissed me off. I got back on my bike, and turned the cranks over, going a paltry 4.5mph up this hill. My aching back and neck no longer ached. I'm sure the pain I was experiencing was nothing compared to the pain in my legs. I have never felt worse in my life. At this point, muscles in my legs that I didn't know I had hurt. I was tired, and hungry, and my heart was ready to leap out of my chest. Whenever I thought the top was near, it was just another corner, and it kept going. Finally, the top of the hill arrived. Scott and I stopped at the last rest stop, a mere 5 miles from the finish to get more water and a quick snack, and to curse at the person who thought that putting that hill 91 miles into the ride was a good idea.
A short but steady climb remained before the downhill finish, which of course, included a stop sign at the bottom of a hill (why do they do this). The 5km to go sign was a welcome relief. I can do another 3.2mi, I thought. I continued on at about 16mph, though I'm not sure how I managed to go that fast (probably the downhill). I was exhausted, beat, and frankly my butt hurt, but when my trip meter ticked over to 100.00 miles, a sense of euphoria overwhelmed me. I have never been so happy, and so defeated at the same time. We passed the 1km to go sign and we cruised into the parking lot. I got off the bike, and didn't collapse (yay), but I wasn't moving too fast.
A couple Advil, dinner, a beer, and a good nights sleep later, I got back on my bike and went on a 10mi ride, just to do it.... maybe next year, we'll do it again.
Stats: 7 hrs, 8 min, 44sec ride time. 14.1mph average. 7625ft of hills climbed. 100.81miles. Somewhere between 5000-7000 calories burned.