Goshen Bike Fest

September 30, 2000

Goshen, Indiana

103.6 miles

Bicycle:  Cannondale H-300

To finish my first season back in cycling, I thought it would be perfect to ride back-to-back centuries. I rode centuries two weekends in a row (the Metro Metric and the Melon Metric), and I had tried to ride back-to-back centuries on the weekend that started with the Tour of the Ozarks. Alas, I was pretty sore the morning after that challenging, hilly ride, so I did not attempt the second century. My last opportunity of the year to " do the double" was ideal: two centuries were being held on consecutive days in Goshen, Indiana. The Goshen Bike Fest was on Saturday, followed by the Kiwanis Bike Century on Sunday.

As usual, I did not get an ideal  amount of sleep the night before the ride. I went to bed at 1 AM and awoke at 4:30 to load up the bike and drive three hours to Goshen, Indiana, which is about 20 miles beyond South Bend. Along the way, I stopped for the now traditional pre-century meal of Munchkins, a plain bagel and a bottle of orange juice. At the start at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds, I signed up, filled my water bottles and ate a few cookies. I was disappointed that T-shirts were not included, but $20 for two days of riding was a good deal, so I couldn't complain (it was $15 for one day). The course layout was different from any other century I've done. There were two loops, one hilly 27-miler and one flatter 23.5 miler, with different color arrows going clockwise and counterclockwise. These four routes comprised a century. The 27-mile routes had a rest stop at the halfway point, but the others had no stops. All of them returned to the starting point at the fairgrounds, home of the second largest county fair in the U.S., I was told (Orange County's is the largest). There was also a 20-mile loop that ran along the Pumpkinvine Trail (a rail trail named for the old railroad's circuitous route) for several miles. There were several advantages and disadvantages to such a layout. Obviously, it required a minimal number of volunteers since there were only two rest stops. It also provided the opportunity to stop by the car if I needed to pick up or get rid of anything. On the other hand, 23 miles was rather long without a rest stop, especially since there were no food stores along the route. And it required a certain determination to head back out for the later laps knowing that the car was just a few hundred feet away. The man  who laid out the route said that I would see different things going in each direction, so it wouldn't be repetitive. To my surprise, he was correct. Even on Sunday when I had ridden the entire course several times and certain overlapping sections up to a dozen times, I saw things that I hadn't noticed before.

It was a little chilly at the start, so I wore a jacket for the first loop. I had intended to ride hilly/flat/hilly/flat as suggested, but when the arrows for the hilly route disappeared, I improvised and did the flat route. I learned later that they had missed a few intersections, but they went out and marked them after the ride started. Aside from that early glitch, the routes were very well marked. The flat route had a lot of Amish traffic, mostly horse and buggy on Saturday with a fair number of bicycles on Sunday. They were quite friendly--most of them waved to me, and one kid even yelled out, " Nice bike!" Something I hadn't thought of before was that the Amish country roads offered an exciting challenge--dodging road apples! Later, a woman in a Cadillac almost ran into me head-on because she was dodging road apples herself (gee, that's a tough choice--run over manure or a bicyclist?). I had all sorts of weird thoughts about the Amish during my ride. For instance, many of them have bicycles, but I suppose they aren't allowed to have cyclometers? Then I wondered if teenage Amish boys sneak around playing with modern technology the way other teenage boys sneak a peek at dad's Playboy magazines. And throughout the weekend, Weird Al's " Amish Paradise" parody of " Gangsta Paradise" kept going through my head.

I had a hard time on this first loop, even though it was supposed to be easier. I couldn't seem to get into a groove and my mind was wandering even more than usual. I was jolted from my daydreaming by an awful noise. Somehow I had not attached my oversized saddlebag to my rack properly, and it had flopped over against the tire. What a dork! I got back to the fairgrounds a few miles later, averaging 16.1 mph. That wasn't bad, but I usually do better in the earlier miles of a century. It had warmed up a bit, so I left my jacket in the car. It was nice not to have to carry it along all day.

The second loop, hilly clockwise, was better. It was indeed hillier, but since my last century was in the Ozarks, I didn't struggle much. There was a fair amount of shade, too. Overall, this 27-mile route was prettier than the 23.5-mile route. With a tailwind up to the rest stop in Bonneyville, I raised my average by 0.6 mph in just 13 miles, so I was scooting along pretty well. I gave some of that back on the return trip, dropping back to 16.4 mph. Someone had the 2000 model of my bike at the fairgrounds, the primary difference being 24 gears instead of 21 and more SRAM componentry. Without all of my bike's stuff on it, it looked rather naked.

I did the hilly counterclockwise loop next at around the same speed, rising to 16.7 and falling to 16.1. Along the way, some kids were selling candy bars to raise money for their school by the side of the road. I treated myself to a Crunch bar. For some reason I don't remember much else about this loop. On the return trip south, the wind really picked up. It would dog me for the rest of the weekend.

I had one more loop to do, the flat 23.5-mile route counterclockwise. I started out strong and purposeful, but I eventually succumbed to the wind and began floundering. I made a lot of mistakes on Saturday, one of them being that I didn't eat enough. I normally drink Gatorade at the rest stops and water on the road, but on Saturday I skipped the Gatorade because I didn't like the cluster of bees drinking from the spigot. Big mistake--I ran out of gas toward the end. I was getting pretty tired, too, probably from my continual lack of sleep. At times, I nearly closed my eyes and fell asleep on the bike! With about six miles to go, I used my reserve ClifShot, and that was just enough to get me home. Around that time I surpassed 2,000 miles on the odometer, not bad for my first year back in cycling. With only a couple miles to go, I looked at my average speed--16.0 mph. I pushed hard to assure that it would not fall below that as I headed into the wind. When I finished, I was running on empty. Somehow, even with the wind, I managed to ride my fastest century yet, 103.6 miles in 6:27, hanging onto that 16.0 average. I intended to come back for another century  on Sunday, but at that moment, I couldn't even think about it. I was really wiped out.

I drove to my motel room, barely staying alert for the 15-mile drive (I really need to find somebody to drive me home from these centuries--I always get extremely tired within half an hour of finishing). I stopped along the way for a 44-ounce Coke (only 79!), which helped me recover. I got into my motel room just in time to watch Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich in the time trial. Too bad Lance couldn't pull it out, but I thought he was refreshingly candid and gracious in the post-race interview (track & field could learn from him--more class and less trash talking). I was surprised that Lance's teammate, Viatcheslav Ekimov, won it. Then I watched a few of the track races while I ate a pizza. In general, NBC's coverage was even worse than I imagined. I'm glad I only watched one night of the Olympics on TV. I went to sleep around 10 PM  and had the best sleep in weeks.

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