May 17, 2003 - Lodi Sunrise Century
This is the first century in nine years that I’ve done by myself. My regular riding buddy Rick is in Hawaii with his family and I couldn’t convince any of my other bike friends to do this one so it was just me and about 500 strangers.
I always enjoy the early morning drive to begin a century. Today’s trip was just over an hour and I left at 5am. As I headed northeast, I watched the sun come up through patchy clouds while Paula Abdul motivated me with 90dB of dance music. Check in at Lodi High was very smooth and quick – I think that was mostly a function of a much smaller turn out than Tierra Bella six weeks ago rather than anything the Rotary Club had done differently. They had coffee and bagels and fruit to get us going.
Segment 1: This was 20 miles of mostly flat riding on wide roads with almost no traffic. I took off at 6:30 and it was still pretty cold but I knew it would warm up shortly. There were lots of curvy roads through vineyards and orchards and quaint farmhouses. It reminded me quite a bit of rural Iowa where I grew up (except Iowa has soybeans and corn instead of grapes and peaches). Anyway, I maintained a pretty good pace through here just to keep warm and didn’t worry about burning myself out. The first rest stop was at a fire station and the only thing I wished they had but didn’t was some more coffee because it hadn’t warmed up yet. I did have some muffin pieces and some juice and stuffed a granola bar in my pocket. I dawdled for exactly 7 minutes and then headed out again. Average speed for this segment was 19.4 mph and that was with no drafting at all.
Segment 2: As we entered into Amador County the roads started to undulate a bit, which really broke up the monotony of riding solo. Each little roller got progressively longer and steeper but they were all gradual grades that I could hammer up in a big gear and swoop down the other side. We passed what appeared to be a shooting range down hill from the route and I thought I heard some bullets whizzing into the ditch beside me but I decided it was just my imagination. When we got near Pardee Reservoir we got to the only serious climbing of the whole ride with about a 2-mile climb that had me in my lowest gear for a while. Then we rode across the top of the dam on a 1-lane road that looked down on the water, which was full of fishing and recreational boats. Lots of interesting road kill along this stretch: a deer, a coyote, several skunks, and dozens of squirrels, all in various states of consumption by the raptor population. A few more rollers coming down the other side brought us to the Wallace rest stop. Average speed for this segment was 16.3 mph over the 31 miles, again with no drafting and lots of easy to moderate climbing. I easily made my goal of 50 miles before 10am. There were only about a half dozen riders at the rest stop and it was oddly quiet… very little conversation and I noticed that there wasn’t any music playing; most of the rest stops at other centuries have at least a boom box or something to liven things up a bit and I didn’t realize how much I appreciated that until it was missing.
Segment 3: Things flatted out again for this 24-mile piece. It was plenty warm by now but the wind was also starting to pick up. It was in this part of the route that I caught the only paceline of the entire day – there were four other guys and me and I thought the other four guys were together but we came to a turn and three of them went straight – I found out later that they were taking a shortcut so they must have known the roads. Anyway I only worked with this group for about 5 miles before things broke up. Through this part of the route the organizers had added some little detours to bring the total mileage up and I noticed in several places that folks were skipping the detours and taking the more direct routes. That’s their choice I guess, but I was here for the whole experience and wasn’t about to cheat myself out of the full century. There was also one really boring 9-mile stretch of Clements road that was also very windy, and somewhere in here the 100 km route joined up with us so there were a lot more riders. At the final rest stop (again, no music!) there were a lot more bikes parked and people were talking and joking – the 100 km riders had only done 37 miles by this point. I had another sandwich and some fruit and steeled myself for the windy ride back to the finish. It was only a little after 11am and only 25 miles to go so it looked like I was going to finish earlier than I predicted. In fact, it looked like I was riding my fastest century ever! Average speed for this segment was 19.3 mph.
Segment 4: OK, things were really windy now as we re-entered the orchard and vineyard territory. I passed a lot of people but two women behind me just wouldn’t let me go. They wound up passing me back at an intersection and I stopped at an official watering station to fill my bottle and gulp down a Clif Shot. I usually save the frosting for the last 10 or 15 miles and it gives me an extra boost of energy and attitude that really helps – and it worked again today. I blew by those two women in short order and kept up a decent pace all the way back to Lodi. As I got closer to the finish I noticed that I was on track to finish in 6-1/2 hours total time – that would be a personal best – so I put my head down and did it. I finished feeling good but tired. At the post-ride meal they had spaghetti and salad that was good but not fancy (exactly what I like a post-ride meal to be), and they even had Coke! Most rides are too cheap to provide Coke. There was also a couple there selling raffle tickets for a Trek tandem – it was a slightly used, older model but in very good shape. They said they were only going to sell 300 tickets for $10 apiece and it was to raise money for a woman who needed a prosthetic eye. How could I resist? I don’t know where I’d put it – my garage is crammed full of junk, but I’ll figure something out. As I was changing clothes I realized that my Clif Shot envelope wasn't completely empty and it had leaked into my jersey pocket; my jersey and bib shorts were stuck to my skin with dried up goo! Reminder to self: make sure to suck out all the stuff before stuffing it in my pocket.
This route reminded me a lot of Foxy’s Fall Century – flat and windy through orchards and vineyards, but there weren’t nearly as many riders. It was about the best weather we could have asked for I guess and I did enjoy the ride, but I’ll probably not do it again - I really prefer the rides that attract big fields.
Total Distance: 102.9 miles
Total Time: 6h 30m
Ride Time: 5h 46m
Avg Speed: 17.8 mph
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