Guest poster Don Blount continues his account of his metric double century, a ride he’s using to prepare for his killer “death ride” next month.
I was nearly halfway through the Tierra Bella Double Metric Century in Gilroy, Calif. as the voices began getting louder in my head. I had been riding for nearly 4½ hours, which is a long time to spend with your thoughts. When doubt takes a seat in there, strange things happen.
And as I thought about being able to stop if I had a mechanical problem with my bike, an unsettling crunching sound came from my cranks and they jammed.
I got off the bike, looked and tried pedaling them again. Nothing.
The front derailleur had fallen into the big chainring. As I fiddled with it, one rider stopped to help and another. One held the bike, while the other chatted. The talker was local and told me that a bike shop was not far away.
And then the SAG van pulled up. By that time I had gotten the front derailleur into the low chainring. Instead of hopping into the SAG wagon, I pedaled to the bike shop. I was not the only Tierra Bella rider there, several others were also getting repairs. A mechanic there confirmed that my derailleur was broken and that the bike could be ridden within the small chainring without worry.
And now that I had an excuse to quit the ride, I did not want to. I had too much time and effort invested.
I decided to do the last part of the ride in the small chainring. I still had a lot of climbing to do and would spin on the flats.
So I spun. And I spun and spun and spun for the next 25 miles (40km) before reaching the final climb at Hicks Road.
This climb gained 739 feet (225m) in about two miles (3.2km). It would take me about 20 minutes.
On the return trip I missed one turn but traced my steps to get back on course and ended up with a group of riders that I would stay with the rest of the way.
It was good to ride with someone as the afternoon winds in Gilroy picked up.
I rode 127 miles (204km), and my Garmin showed me with 8,632 feet (2,631m) of climbing in 8 hours 54 minutes. That does not include the hour of time I lost while fiddling with my front derailleur.
The Tierra Bella Double Metric Century was a challenging ride that I would do again. I learned how to deal with adversity and work through those negative voices that creep into your head during challenging rides.
I had a long car ride in front of me and just wanted to get home for a hot shower and to unload my gear. I also wanted my quads to stop screaming at me.