I have completed my first century ride! I'm so excited an proud to have finished my ride. The WAACO's (plus honorary WAACO Brian) went down to Wichita Falls on Friday. First we hit the Expo where we admired the latest in beautiful bicycles of all configurations and prices. It's a rare chance too see and compare all kinds of bikes in one place. Most shops carry only a few brands. It's also a great place to pick up clothing and accessories, as all the vendors have some kind of special - many of them are real bargains, and some are not available locally. It's good to see everything "in person" even if I will be purchasing online at a future date. I picked up a new jersey and gloves. Others picked up new shorts, socks, tools, and other fun stuff. The place is packed because not only are the vendors all jammed in there with everything they can think of to bring there, but it's where everyone picks up our bib numbers and T shirts. After we browsed around the Expo indoors and went out to the tents and admired the bikes outside.
Having worked up an appetite we made our ritual trip to Market Street, a favorite grocery store with a deli featuring every possible kind of food - pasta, barbeque, cold sanwiches, sushi. I think we got some of everything. Shana accidently ordered a family sized barbeque dinner, so anyone who still had a little room to spare had some of that too. After we finished our feast we ran around the store picking up various gourmet items and selecting from the nice selection of beers on hand. You cannot buy cold 6% beer in Oklahoma, so if we want beer we get it after we arrive in Texas. We made an early night of it, with everyone performing the chosen pre-ride rituals to be sure we were all ready to go in the morning.
Everyone was up and ready to ride well before dawn. Three of us were planning to ride the 100 mile ride, and most of the others ended up riding the 100K. Susi sensibly opted for a shorter ride with more time at the beer tent. We had rooms only a couple of miles from the start, so most of us rode over from the hotel in the dark. By the time the sun came up there were more than 10,000 riders lined up. Some of our group wanted to stay out of the pack at the start and opted for either starting near the rear or a bit ahead of the starting line, but I wanted to start in the pack and Brian was kind enough to start with me. With so many riders the streets were really congested for miles. It's quite a spectacle, and lots of locals sit out to see us go by (sometimes even with waving and cheers!). Brian was far ahead of my within the first 10 minutes, and I didn't see any of our group until the 20 mile stop. After that I saw Diane at about 65 miles, and everyone was at the finish line to cheer me when I came in. We were lucky in the weather, so there were loads of people at every stop. and not many dropping out, even at 95 miles (where I did not stop, being eager to finish). I had a volunteer snap my picture at the 90 mile stop with my pickle juice (and my helmet on crooked, as usual). This may quite possibly be the least delicious drink on earth, but will keep you going without cramps for many miles in the heat. There were stops about every 10 miles. I stopped at 7, so that although my average speed was 15.9 mph it still took me 8 1/2 hours to get to the finish line. Most were quick stops of about 5 minutes. but I did linger a little longer at a couple as I got tired and the day heated up.
After the ride we were all starving and went out for Mexican food, and then for a coffee. Sunday morning we packed up and stopped at Denny's for breakfast. We lingered a bit over breakfast, then it was time to split up and head for home. I think everyone had a great time, and we've already reserved the same rooms for next year.