Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Race Report: 100MON Houston Picnic Loop Edition

Yes, we did, indeed, survive the 100 Miles of Nowhere ride last Friday!  Although the "official" day of the ride was Saturday, June 4, we did ours on Friday because the Memorial Park Picnic Loop is mostly closed to car traffic that day.  (When I originally talked people into doing it that day, I thought it was closed for the entire morning and afternoon, but it was actually open from 11am to 3pm.  However, it was such an extremely hot day that it turned out not to matter so much.  There weren't many people - or animals for that matter - out in the heat of the day like us...)


The day started off late because HISD decided at the last minute to tack on another day to the school year so what would have been the first day of summer vacation for our kids turned out to be the last day of school and we had to take them to school that day before we could start riding.  (But I'm not bitter about that.)

We gathered in the parking lot, trying to ignore our impending doom.

Everyone looks so happy!
There were nine people who showed up to do the ride with us, including a father-son duo whom you can make out on the tandem bike there to the left of the picture.  (I could add a comment here about the fact that they live out in Katy and the Katy ISD system didn't make the stupid decision to extend the school year by one day, but would that make me sound bitter again?)

After unloading and setting up the food, water, and cold, wet towels (learned that one from my husband who grew up here in this heat!), we rolled out at about 8:40am.

We chose to do the ride at the Memorial Park Picnic Loop because it's a small loop that is twisty enough to not be boring, but still conforms to the rule of " riding an infuriatingly small course for 100 miles".  The course:

Memorial Park Picnic Loop (1.18 mi)

At a lap-length of 1.18 miles, we would have to go around the loop 85 times to get to 100 miles.  The course looks deceptively easy - it's nearly pancake flat - but there's one section of the loop that we lovingly referred to as "The Wall".  It's a slight incline, just enough that you can notice it in your legs, but nearly impossible to capture in a picture.  Luckily, thanks to Fatty's guest post a couple of weeks ago, I was able to take a representative photo of it!

I captured the incline like a true professional
The first 10 miles were a breeze.  We all chatted and loosened up and then the one guy in the group who still avidly rides many times per week sort of took off (I'm pretty sure he gave us "The Look", too), not to be seen again until around the 40-mile mark when he had put an extra 12 miles on us.  The rest of us were content to line up and work together a bit, still not pushing too hard and still being able to light-heartedly joke with each other and pretend to be like that talking dog from the movie "Up" and say "SQUIRREL!" to each other every time we saw and almost ran over a squirrel.

At around mile 40, we broke into the doping products:

Preemptive Ibuprofen - a necessity once you hit 40 years old.
We managed to make it another 20 miles before stopping for lunch.  By this point, though, the people who were only going to do 50 miles were beginning to finish, so I had to start giving out awards.

Winners of the Simultaneous Relay Division (they each rode 50 miles)
Winners of the Father/Son tandem-then-switching-to-individual-bikes Division
The son in this father/son duo really, really wanted to ride 50 miles.  They started off on their tandem and rode about 15 miles and then switched to individual bikes.  I think in the end, they were a couple of miles short of the 35-mile mark on their individual bikes, but we're assuming that there must have been a couple of extra miles on the tandem that they missed in their counting.  Way to go to this awesome 8-year-old!!!

After lunch, I really started feeling it.  When it was 1:30 and the sun was directly overhead - providing only minimal shade to the route - and we had only gone about 65 miles, I was seriously doubting the intelligence of choosing to do this ride.  I actually started getting chills, which I couldn't decide were a result of dehydration or the pain that was shooting from my feet up into my legs.  I ended up assuming that it was dehydration and tried to force even more water into my already-water-logged stomach.  After soldiering through that trough, we managed to make it to 75 miles and another awards ceremony.

Winner of the Spontaneous 100K Division (a co-worker of mine who just decided to show up and ride!)
By this point, it was hot.  So, so hot!

The heat.

My God, the heat!

But, ignoring all remnants of sense we may have had left, we got back on our bikes and started turning the pedals once again.  We told ourselves that we would stop at 88 miles (when the avid-cyclist would be done, since he had 12 extra miles on us) and if we needed to, we could finish the rest of the 12 miles the next morning... in the relative cool of the day!

My Facebook updates throughout the day tell the story succinctly:

  • Almost to 40 miles.  Starting to really feel it!  Got all day to finish, though.  We'll make it.  :)
  • Up to 60 miles now! Lunchtime.
  • 75 miles.  The heat, my God, the heat!  Gonna try to do a little more, but may have to finish this tomorrow in the interest of not passing out...
  • 88 miles.  Past the trough.  I think I can, I think I can.
  • Finally!  100.31 miles of nowhere!
100.31 Miles of Nowhere!
 When we made it to the 88-mile point and stopped to let Mr. Avid take his leave of us, he decided he just couldn't leave us to wallow in misery without him for the last 12 miles and he ended up riding them with us.  So!  The winner of the 112 Miles of Nowhere Division:

Oops.  Either I forgot to take the picture, or it didn't actually take, so this will just have to do.  Not quite quads the size of Fatty's, but still...
And the rest of us...
Winner of the 100 Miles having "flatted" twice during the ride (he missed a couple of laps, but we treated it like a Crit and didn't make him ride those last two)
Winner of the Most-billable 100 Miles (my husband is a drilling engineer and had to work during every break)
Winner of the Women's-age-40-who-talked-all-her-friends-into-doing-this-with-her Division (Me) (Also? Nice hair!)
We finished at 4:44pm and sat around, recovering while watching people as they showed up after work to put in their workout for the evening.  As we were sitting there, we started noticing that the squirrels had come out from hiding in their cool nests and were running around again.  Until that point, though, we hadn't noticed they were missing!  So, on that realization, we packed up and went home.  We decided that next year, we'll do it in April, instead.