The washboard gravel road is bouncing me all over the place - mercifully we are going down hill slightly. I thought the worst of the climbing was over, but no. We wheel around a corner and the road pitches straight up! Now in addition to blown out quads and being nearly 9,000 ft high and a scarcity of oxygen, I need to climb up this rutted dirt road that has me almost at a stand-still as I am barely able to turn the cranks over seated. I rise to get out of the saddle, and my quads give that tell-tale hint of massive cramping coming on, plus the back tire begins to spin out slightly, so seated I stay and I grind on. Thankfully, this hill is only about 100m long, but it takes me forever to cover that distance. This was my mile 80 of 100 at the inaugural Centurion Cycling bike race near Lyons, CO over the weekend.
Quite frankly, I had no idea how this event was going to go - at a number of different levels. I knew one thing, it was going to be exceptionally well organized. The Centurion events are the brain-child of Graham Fraser, who literally put Ironman triathlons on the map in North America. He's more or less out of that business now( only running the Ironman Canada race), and now into these large group bike rides/races aka, Gran Fondos. Some say these are the next big thing, and I would agree. In some respects, I am the prototype, perfect person for these - former triathlete, sometime road-racer, like to stay fit on the bike, like group rides and races, and like big challenges.
Onto the aforementioned descent which was an absolute blast. My speedometer on my bike was not working, but we must have been hitting speeds close to 80 kmh. This group continued to do the pac-man routine and by the time we headed out for the second loop, it was about 30 strong. Then there was a big acceleration on the rollers outside of Lyons and I popped off the back. I had heard that the second time up Left Hand, with the addition of the Super James climb above the town of James Town, plus the dirt road section was, to put it in Tour de France terms Hors Catogorie- or beyond classification, or put another way, &*$#-ing hard! I road within myself and tried to keep the group in site. Sure enough, as we hit the lower slopes of Left Hand Canyon for the second time, many from that group started to drift back towards me and I began to pass quite a few. This was encouraging.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that my amazing wife, Paolina Allan was also along for the ride, so to speak. She did very well and finished about 5 minutes ahead of me and in 4th place overall amongst the women. She had some cramping issues on the Super James climb and had a harder go of it than I did at the high altitude. The altitude did not seem to bother me that much. Not sure why, but I know that altitude adaptation is very individual. Nevertheless, there were too many fast old men and I did much worse than she did both overall and in my age-group!
We both plan on doing the Collingwood, Ontario Centurion Race in September - see you there!
Thank you to our good friend Carole Sharples for putting up with us Crazy Canucks for a few days. We loved Boulder and look forward to coming back soon.
Picture at the top - Paolina and I Ready to roll at the first ever Centurion Cycling 100 miler in Lyons, CO