A couple of months ago I picked up a flier for the Apple Cider Century, read the whole thing, and immediately called Kristin to tell her that "We are doing this".
The Apple Cider Century took place last Sunday, September 30th in Three Oaks Michigan. With our bicycles on top the car, a plethora of clothing options and coffee in tow we were on the road at 6 am. YES, 6 am, the earliest that Kristin has been up in a long, long, long time, ha. The hour and a half drive went really fast and as I pulled off I-94, I began to get nervous about parking, the ride, and what to wear. As I was pulling into downtown Three Oaks I was pleasantly surprised; the Three Oaks Spokes Bicycle Club had the logistics down (it's like they had done this before), numerous high school students were directing traffic, there were more than enough volunteers to answer questions and NO LINE at packet pickup. With a skip in our step Kristin and I made our way back to the car to begin debating over what to wear. It was 47 degrees that morning with a high of 66, and after maybe 10 minutes of putting on and taking off numerous articles of clothing it was decided; shorts, knee warmers, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, light weight jacket, and normal bike gloves.
We made our way to the Start/Finish and were off!!! Our fingers were burning from the cold air, we were constantly crossing the yellow line passing slower cyclists, we couldn't keep a constant speed, and did I mention we couldn't feel our fingers?! Then at mile 5 something amazing happened, our fingers warmed up and we hopped on the wheel of two women. Kristin and I introduced ourselves, and the nice women said that we would have to take turns pulling and that they were catching up to some other guys. About three minutes later there was a line of 8 cyclists shouting "On your left". This group from Evanston, IL meant business; we averaged 18 for the first 23 miles. We parted ways at the first SAG stop, because Kristin and I knew that we couldn't keep that pace up for 100 miles.
After filling up our water bottles and eating the best trail mix I've had, we took off for the next 27 mile segment. This section of the ride flirted with some uphills and had some amazing downhills. Kristin's chain fell off twice; she got it back on twice without having to get off the bike. Go Kristin!!! My stomach began growling around mile 46, I couldn't wait to eat. The stop at mile 50 was my favorite. Not only were there super clean bathrooms, but the food options were impressive. You could choose from soup, fruit, Mojo bars, or PB&J sandwiches. That PB&J was the bomb. After taking our time eating / stretching Kristin and I debated whether or not take our jackets off, then spent another 5 minutes trying to get them folded small enough to fit into our jersey pockets.
The next 50 miles were broken up into the following segments: 28, 13, 9 - all of which were pretty tedious due to all the hills and wind. For 41 miles Kristin and I battled an amazingly strong headwind all while going uphill. There was no talking or laughing during this part of the ride, just pure will power to make it to the next SAG stop.
Oh yeah we made it to that SAG stop and instantly cheered up, only 25 miles to go!! As we left the stop we hopped on to some guys back wheel and let him and his two other friends fight the wind for us. Finally after trying to shake us they stepped on the gas leaving Kristin and I in the dust. We then did something we have never done before: worked together. For 2 minutes one person pulled while the other recovered, we did this all the way to the last stop. We pulled in with nine miles to go looked at each other and took off. Those last nine miles were EPIC, we were in disbelief that we rode 100 miles - 100 freaking miles and it went by so fast!!
6 hours after starting we crossed the finish line and made a mad dash for a patch of grass, threw our bikes down and collapsed. After lying on the ground for 10 minutes we made our way to the car, packed everything up and talked about all the food we were going to eat that night.
So what did we take away from this ride:
- An amazing sunglass tan line
- We can accomplish anything we set out to do
- A remarkable sock tan line
- The Apple Cider Century is one of the best, most well run events we have attended
- Bicycle shorts are worth their weight in gold!