My third 100 MoN started badly.
The sky looked awfully grey. My hydration pack felt really, really heavy. My legs seemed flat and unresponsive. I had none of the extra zingyness that usually accompanies a fun, long ride. I felt tired.
Things got worse. My friends were not at the designated location for their round-and-round version of the 100 MoN. Though I did meet another Friend of Fatty (hi, Eric!) who was riding there. I rode with him for awhile and we had a nice chat.
As soon as I left Eric to go ride my planned big loop, it started to rain. It rained hard. Soon my shoes were full of water, my clothes were soaked and my glasses were totally fogged up. I rode over some of the slipperiest tar snakes and manhole covers I have ever encountered.
Many people on tri bikes passed me without saying hi or even acknowledging that I was there. I was miserable and unhappy and I was embarrassed to be riding as slowly as I was, especially with my 100 MoN “number plate” zip-tied to my bike.
At 35 miles, I literally came to a crossroads: Left, I could go home. Right, I could continue on. To make the right-hand turn I would have to pass a very large highway sign that read “WRONG WAY.”
It seemed like a bad omen.
I realized that I was feeling very sorry for myself. I thought about all my friends who can’t ride, for various reasons. I thought about all the riders and other people I’ve known who have passed on. I thought about how any one of them probably would have done anything for just one more chance to ride, or to be with their loved ones, or to be in good health and capable of doing whatever it was that they most loved to do.
I knew right then that I had to keep riding until there was nothing left in my legs.
I turned right.
I abandoned my plan to ride a bunch of humongous hills. Instead, I took the longer, flatter roads around them. I rode pretty slowly. I saw horses and shaggy red Angus cattle in the fields. I encountered many groups of cyclists going the other direction. Many of them waved and smiled when I waved at them.
The rain eased up. Before too long I was at 50 miles and starting on the homeward leg. I noticed that my average speed was creeping up. I smelled wet grass and damp pine trees. The air felt nice and clean.
I saw eagles soaring on thermals overhead. An osprey flew alongside me, close enough that I could hear its feathers rustling. Then I followed a bumblebee that was zigzagging along the road, until the bee lifted its pace to something like 20 mph (!) and I could not follow. It seemed so funny to get dropped by a bee that I laughed out loud.
At 75 miles I stripped off my still-soggy vest and arm warmers. It cheered me up. A lot.
At 91 miles I realized I could make the full 100 if I made a little extra loop on the way home.
On that loop I rode through a beautiful snowstorm of cottonwood fluff in full sunshine.
At 101 miles, and 2 blocks from home, I drained the last of the water from my hydration pack. I felt happy that I’d filled it with exactly enough water for the day. I was grateful that I was home safe, with no crashes or flats or mechanical problems. I felt humbled to have had the privilege to ride my bike for the better part of six and half hours. I was grateful that I did not bail out.
It was not my fastest century. It was not particularly “epic.” But it was a very, very good ride indeed.