Yesterday, I embarked on the latest biking challenge I’ve set for myself: complete a[n imperial] century. That’s 100 miles in less than 12 hours. This came on the heels of my completing a metric century (100km), which I loved. Luckily, Transportation Alternatives hosts a yearly century ride to raise awareness of bicycling in NYC and uses the proceeds to fund its advocacy efforts. In 2009, I signed up for the 15-mile ride and barely completed that, if I remember correctly. (They no longer offer a 15-mile option.) This year, I signed up for the full 100-mile ride. In the end, I had to modify the route I took because I simply couldn’t needlessly go over yet another bridge… but I still pedaled over 100 miles!
It was an amazing experience. I was surrounded by thousands of like-minded cyclists. (A group of cyclists all making the same turn around a bend is a sight to behold.) I saw so many parts of New York City that I don’t normally get to see. I climbed a ton of hills. I was cheered on by passersby. Simply, I was reminded of what a truly amazing city I live in. It’s a fantastic way to see the city and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Some of my highlights from this year’s ride:
- Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at 5:30 AM, before all the tourists were awake.
- Getting lost in empty & quiet Prospect Park after I got bad intel about the Brooklyn starting line.
- Climbing up the never-ending hills of Highland Park and Forest Park in Queens.
- Enjoying the serene ride along the East River on bike paths in Ralph Demarco Park and Astoria Park.
- Riding along the Harlem River Greenway (along the former site of the Harlem River Speedway!).
- The spectacular views from the many bridges we crossed.
- Being called a “roadie” by an enraged cyclist on the Hudson River Greenway on my way home. (I passed him and he got angry. Started spouting off about road cyclists and races: “Oh, of COURSE. Fucking roadies. Do you see a race here? Are you in a race? How’s your race going?”)
Does this look like a roadie to you!?
OK, fine, maybe I was decked out in my fanciest road riding gear. But I had to be safe and comfortable for the long ride that went over many types of terrains with the sun beating down on me! Here’s what all I had on this ride:
- 2012 Salsa Casseroll bicycle (with stock components)
- Shimano PD-A530 combination clipless/platform pedals
- Garmin Forerunner 620 watch (with heart rate monitor)
- Louis Garneau Multi Lite cycling shoes (with Shimano SH-56 multi-directional cleats)
- Pearl Izumi Women’s Attack No-Show socks
- shebeest Century Elite shorts
- Castelli Gustosa full-zip jersey
- Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves (slipped on at a rest stop when the sun came out)
- Pearl Izumi Sun Knees (ditto)
- De Soto Skin Cooler Helmet Beanie
- Pearl Izumi Women’s Select gloves
- Scott Watu helmet
- thinksport Livestrong SPF 50+ sunscreen
- Tifosi Tyrant 2.0 photochromic sunglasses
- Assos chamois creme
- Topeak Pocket Rocket Master Blaster bike pump
- Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX
I also brought a bunch of my own food so I wouldn’t have to stand in the long lines, including Clif bars & energy gels, Clif Kit’s Organic Fruit and Seed Bars, Pure Ancient Grains bars, Bobo’s Oat Bars, and fresh fruit (apples & bananas). I burned an estimated 2,300 calories during this ride. My calculations tell me I consumed 1,350 calories during the ride. The green smoothie I had for breakfast adds another 250 calories for a grand total of 1,600 calories that I had to burn during the ride. Needless to say, I was ravenous—on top of being exhausted—by the time I got home around 5:30. And then I was out by 9:30 PM.
Freakin’ awesome day.