Starting a 100 mile ride: Determination, apprehension, and something special and horrible inside

Important announcement: I’m going to (try and) LiveCast the opening of Chainbreaker tomorrow. As described below, the opening should be fun sight, with 1,000s of cyclists, If you want to see it live, look at my Facebook account at 6:30 – 7am.

On to some pondering, I’ll start my first 100 mile ride tomorrow, called Chainbreaker. There’s an important word in that last sentence, “start.” I’ve learned to use that word before any new challenge because I can accomplish that, usually.

This is the first time I’ve done this kind of “group ride,” but I suspect it’ll be similar to a marathon. Just like this 100-ride, marathons start a little after sunrise, so while athletes wait for the start, there’s the feeling that only early morning can bring—calm, quiet, and peaceful.

The atmosphere is also up-beat, but the runners don’t cheer much. They’re contemplative, a unique combination of determination and apprehension. The determination comes from the kind of person who tries running for 26 miles, and all the training before the marathon. The apprehension comes from knowing that you still might not make it, and it will hurt, especially toward the end. I enjoyed that feeling before marathons and sharing it with others, call it shared insanity.

The atmosphere at the start of Chainbreaker should be similar. I’m really looking forward to it, but atmosphere is about the outside. Usually, that outside bit is enough to fill my thoughts, but this time, some things inside me are very different, mostly a few cancer cells. Those cells led me to sign up for this ride. It’s been fulfilling to fight back against cancer, by raising money and spending a lot of time on my bike, training.

Of course, those few cells also make this ride more personal. A few weeks after Chainbreaker, my cancer treatment starts. That’ll involve daily doses of radiation for 6 weeks. The side effects will keep me off my bike for a while. That’s not a big deal for most people, but as my cycling blog shows, cycling is more than a hobby for me. It’s a lifestyle.

Of course, that means I’m going to make the best of Chainbreaker, even the hard parts. And of course, I’ll be back on a bike as soon as I possibly can, but still, I’ll miss it. It’s never wise to dwell on sad stuff too long, so I’ll move on to more info about the ride.

The map below shows the route. We start at 7am, and my target speed is 11.11 miles per hour. That means I’ll ride 99.99 miles in 9 hours. Easy math helps a lot during a long ride, when you’re too tired to think straight. There’s also a lunch half-way through, so that’ll take about 30 minutes. Speed has always been less important to me than fun, so I’ll also take some breaks to take pictures, update this blog, or push my bike up a hill. Those breaks will be at least a half hour. Considering all that, I’ll cycle for 9 hours and have one hour total of lunch and breaks. Since we start at 7am, the earliest I should finish is 5pm, stay tuned for details.

A picture of the route is below. You can also click here to look at it more closely.