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Chico Velo Wildflower Century - CycleCentury

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Chico, California
United States
Chico Velo Club
80F / 27C
Total Time = 6h 51m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Well, this will go down in my record books as one of my worst race preparations in my brief competition history. First, and what will likely haunt me the most is that I was not able to reach the level of training that I had planned for. Secondly, rather that rest the day before the event, I did the running leg of a triathlon in Oroville, followed by a ½ mile lake swim, and followed by an hour of tennis or so with my family. Lastly, we had friends over the night before, so I ended up staying up way too late, and having way too much fun.

I set my alarm for 4:30 AM, and I really struggled to get out of bed. I did my usual pre-race routine (bagel with peanut butter) and headed into Chico (and our meeting place) by 5:30 AM. My right ankle was still pretty sore (I injured it yesterday playing tennis), but not nearly as bad as it was the night before. Drank a little grape juice, and ate a bannana.
Event warmup:

No real warm up - other than some real easy cycling over to our last riding partners house.
  • 6h 51m
  • 100 miles
  • 14.60 mile/hr

I met up with 3 other riding buddies, and we headed out around 6:15 AM. There was already a steady stream of riders on the road, and the diversity of the people out was incredible. We saw lots of the usual 20 somethings, with the $3,000 bikes and all the matching gear – we saw 12-year-old kids, riding with their parents, and we say lots of people that looked to be grandparents – some of them appeared to be riding the same bike they had when they were kids!!!

The first challenge was Humboldt road – going up past the burn dump. We had all ridden this a number of times, and even though it gets fairly steep, it no longer really causes me any serious issues. We decided to mentally break the ride into four segments, Humboldt, Honey Run, Table Mountain and the flats – to help us mentally cope with the length of the ride. Once at the top of Humboldt, we literally flew down Hwy 32 – I pegged a maximum speed of 36 miles per hour.

The next hill was Honey Run – and this was probably one of my fastest climbs on this route. Being out there with 3 or 4 thousand other riders is a great motivating factor, as I really did not want to be slow, or worse yet, have to walk with all the other riders around me. My riding partner Paul also helped keep me on track, and didn’t let me slack off too much.

Once in Paradise, we headed east on Pearson, and we turned onto Recreation Drive to the first of many rest stops for the day. What an incredible site!! There were probably at least 300 bikes and riders there, music was blasting, they had gallons of water being dispensed, and literally every type of really good snacking food imaginable. Lots of bananas, oranges, three or four types of muffins (and they were delicious). After refilling our water bottles, we headed back out to Pearson, and then headed south on Pentz Road.

Pentz road was a trip!!! For some reason, there was almost no traffic other than bikes on the roadway. That gave us lots of room to crank up the speed, and see how many riders we could pass. Paul and I took turns at the lead position, and we must have passed 50 riders coming down the hill. On one steep section near Lime Saddle, Paul hit a top speed of 50 miles per hour. I chickened out and hit the brakes instead, as my bike is a little too squirrelly for me to be comfortable at that speed.

From Pentz Road, we headed east on Durham Pentz, to Wheellock Road. Nice county back road, nothing really notable here. We then crossed Highway 70 to Coal Canyon Road, again a nice easy pace, and pretty comfortable ride.

We had to go a short stretch on Highway 70 to get to Table Mountain Blvd. We saw one of the riders in front of us nearly get ran over by a Chevy Blazer – he didn’t’ bother to look before he headed into the left turn lane, and almost got hit. That was too close for all of our comfort, as we would have been first on the scene of a very bloody mess. Luckily, the Blazer was able to stop in time to avoid him.

From Table Mountain Blvd, we crossed the freeway to the north forebay – where another rest area was set up. Again, it was unbelievable. A free mechanic on duty, to help with any mechanical issues. Lots of water, Recharge drinks, and again, some of the best muffins and things I have ever eaten.

From there, we headed into Oroville, and up Cherokee Road. Similar to my training ride on Tuesday, the first mile or two were OK, and then the road just gets incredibly steep, and is unrelenting. I think I ended up walking three or four times to make it up. Lots of riders were either walking, of pulling off the road to rest. This is the toughest climb I have found locally in Butte County. Anyway, after that climb kicked my butt, it was mainly downhill all the way to the next rest stop. Lots of huge potholes, and a really poor roadway condition made going really fast really challenging. Luckily, everyone made in down without anything more that a few close calls.

Then it was on to the Spring Valley School, and our lunch stop. There we probably 500 riders here, and it looks somewhat like a carnival, with all the colorful jerseys and such. Lunch consisted of Sandwiches (lots of choices), strawberries, nuts, granola, cookies, and just about anything else you could of.

We didn’t stick around too long after we ate – it was already past 12:00, and it was getting hot. It was also getting increasing difficult to move again after we sat down, so we needed to keep moving.

Onto Pentz Road, then a left turn onto Durham Pentz – and another rocket sled ride down the hill. Paul and I again took turns with the lead, this allowed us to probably go a mile or 2 per hour faster than the individual riders. We continued this all the way into Durham. We stopped at the corner market in Durham, and bought Red Bulls for both of us. We needed the psychological lift, and we joked about how we would have wings after we drank it.

We needed wings, to fight the headwind we met along Durham Pentz and Durham Dayton. 16 to 17 miles per hour was about the best we could hold. Even with that slow of a pace, we were passing lots of riders. To be fair, we did get passed by a few also – but they were the guys that seemed to live, breath and drink bicycles.

About the time we passed 7 mile lane, on our way out to River Road is when it started getting tough. We had long ago ran out of comfortable positions on our saddle, and lots of things were starting to complain – from our wrists down to the soles of my feet. The only thing that helped keep up going was passing people – and knowing that the faster pace we held, the sooner we would be finished.

Once we turned onto River Road we were passed by a huge roup of riders. We tried to keep up with them and join their group, but they were riding way faster than our tired legs were willing to go. We stayed on River Road, counting off the miles, and trying our best to keep upbeat about the ride. Finally, after what seemed to be hours, we pulled the Chico at 5th Street. After a fairly painful ride through the city streets, we made it back to our starting point, and two of the best tasting beers that I have ever drank. Our total time was 6 hours and 51 minutes of “saddle time” (not counting the food stops). We averaged 14 miles per hour across the entire ride, which is pretty good for a couple of guys that are not “real” road bikers.

After a quart of chocolate milk, another bottle of Gatorade and a Cliff Bar, I am well on my way to recovery. While it was a long ways, it was not nearly as hard on our bodies that I had anticipated, and so far I can walk easily, and even traverse stairs (a vast improvement over my post-marathon recovery). While none of us had trained as much as we had wanted, we all made in home in one piece, with no obvious injuries or issues.

What would you do differently?:

Get in more long rides - the rainy weather this year (and my marathon in March) just didn't give me the amount of saddle time I needed to really enjoy the ride.
Post race
Warm down:

Sat on the porch and drank two corona's.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Scared of killing myself on the downhills - and tired legs on the flats and the hills.

Event comments:

This was my first Century - and it was a great experiance.

Last updated: 2006-05-01 12:00 AM
06:51:00 | 100 miles | 14.60 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Wind: Headwind with gusts
Course: Roads - all over Butte County - 4300 vertical feet elevation gain.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2006-05-01 10:09 PM

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Durham, CA
Subject: Chico Velo Wildflower Century

2006-05-01 10:20 PM
in reply to: #411864

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San Mateo, CA
Subject: RE: Chico Velo Wildflower Century

Way to go.  We must have started the ride at about the same time - although I rode the 65 miler.  I wished I'd ridden the 100 miler, though.

The descent out of Paradise was awesome, as was Durham-Pentz Rd! 

2006-05-01 10:57 PM
in reply to: #411877

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Durham, CA
Subject: RE: Chico Velo Wildflower Century
Well, there is always next year!!! I agree, both those stetches of road were just flat out awesome. It made the painful of riding into the wind a little easier. We actually had a plan "B" to divert at Durham to my house (pool and corona's) if either of us were hurting - but once we got to 75 miles, we knew we had to finish it out.Dennis
2006-05-01 11:21 PM
in reply to: #411911

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San Mateo, CA
Subject: RE: Chico Velo Wildflower Century

slow&steady - 2006-05-01 8:57 PM Well, there is always next year!!! I agree, both those stetches of road were just flat out awesome. It made the painful of riding into the wind a little easier. We actually had a plan "B" to divert at Durham to my house (pool and corona's) if either of us were hurting - but once we got to 75 miles, we knew we had to finish it out.Dennis

On the descent out of Paradise, there was a couple riding together and they kept  leap frogging with me, but every time they passed me the wife would aburptly cut in front of me, then slam on her breaks and then both of them would slow down.   Finally, I'd had enough of it, and started an all-out assault down the hill just to ditch them.  I never saw them again!

Once I got past Butte College a ways - that's when the wind really seemed to kick-in. I suspect most of the riders were in the 100 miler.  Once we turned on Durham-Pentz, the rest of the ride was a ghost town.  Aside from the grammar school stop in Durham I might have seen 8-10 other riders on the road during the last half of the ride.  I suspected everyone else took the Table Mtn loop.

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