This past Saturday, July 15, 2017, I completed the Holland 100 for the third year in a row. Strangely, I think this was the hardest of all of the years. More about that later. Here are my notes to self as I think about future rides.
The Holland 100 is meant as a fun ride where people can choose 18, 35, 67, and 100 mile routes. One of the unique aspects of this ride is that all routes include a pancake breakfast at East Saugatuck Christian Reformed Church. Here is a copy of the route as captured by my Apple Watch:
I started the day by eating 2 sausage, egg, and cheese burritos that we made up at home. We then headed out to the Herman Miller Greenhouse facility. I started my ride at 7:30am. The first 30 miles felt great. I was keeping a steady pace at around 15 miles per hour and the weather was sunny and in the 60's. I skipped the first rest stop, 11 miles in, since I felt so good. This meant that I was committed to a 32 mile loop before returning to the same rest stop.
I started feeling tired at 40 miles and made a point to stop for refreshments and to rest my legs. I parked my bike and found some grapes and blueberries to eat. I also topped off my water bottles with water and Gatorade. To my surprise my family came running toward me. They tracked me down using the Find my Friends app on our iPhone and brought be a large half-cut iced tea from McDonalds along with an sausage mcmuffin. This was a huge boost to my spirits and meant that I wouldn't need to spend much time at the pancake breakfast stop. I continued on for the next 20 miles and felt challenged by the hills. My pace started to slow down. I stopped at Saugatuck Church and grabbed a cup of dark roast coffee and some watermelon. Once again, I topped off my water bottles. I had started the day with 2 bottles filled with fresh sweet tea. My thighs were feeling incredibly tight at this point so I took time to stretch which helped quite a bit.
I got back on the bike and the ride became more challenging as much of it was going into the wind. Mentally, I was feeling pretty down and wanted to give up so I put in some headphones to start listening to podcasts as a diversion. As I listened, which helped a lot, I then found myself looking at my bike computer every 30 seconds and getting discouraged that it didn't show more progress. I made a deal with myself to only look at the screen when I reached intersections. This gave me a boost of actually seeing progress when I did look at the screen. While all this was going on the sun was out in full force and I found myself fighting a headache and needing to drink many liquids. I took time to drink my slow release corn starch, water, Gatorade, salt mixture. It is a bit disgusting to look at, but seems to help fuel me well. I ended up only drinking 16 ounces out of a 32 ounce bottle.
The rest of the ride was more of the same: tight legs, headache, sun, drinking liquids, sore rear, and needing to stand up on the bike frequently. I stopped at the Fenn Valley Winery rest stop (mile 78) and topped off my water bottles, drank some pure maple syrup I had brought with, drank more of my corn starch mixture, and ate many grapes and blueberries. I also took time to do more stretches. From here it was only 8 miles to the last stop where I had promised to stop by and see Tim from Rock and Road Cycle. I had him take a picture of me holding a water bottle from Joel Krause. Joel is the one who taught me, 3 years ago, how to do road riding and how to train for long distance cycling events. Sadly, he passed away this year and I'm thankful that his wife, Karlene, allowed me to use one of his bottles in his memory. I shared this story with Tim while he took my picture and it made me weep. I skipped grabbing food at this stop in order to push to the end.
My family tracked me down shortly after this stop and yelled words of encouragement. This helped me get through the final miles which also included numb toes and a blister in the webbing area of my hand between the thumb and index finger. I finished the ride at 4pm. It was a long day where I faced many mental and physical challenges. What would I do differently for the future?
- Make sure to stay on my bike multiple times a week prior to the ride
- Get a long ride of 75 miles or more 2 weeks prior to the Holland 100
- Don't bring extra food (just maple syrup and my corn syrup mix)
Training was hard this year because we were gone over a couple of weekends prior to the Holland 100. I did bring my bike on one of the trips and got in 30 miles of hill training on gravel but this didn't make up for just getting a lot of hours on the bike. In general, my training for these rides starts with 20 miles one week and increments up by 10-20 miles per week until I get to 75 miles. This year my longest ride was 65 miles. I also try to do as much commuting by bike as possible to keep active. I'll need to stay focused until the end if I don't want to fight the same mental and physical battles during the ride. Either way, I do these challenges because they are hard and it is very possible that I won't be able to complete them.
Believe it or not, I can't wait to get back on the bike.