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Not your typical century

Having had the opportunity to present this blog for nearly five years now, the main goal has always been to present content that is informative, fresh, and entertaining. Most of it is intentional, such as cycling events that I've participated in, bicycle rides with friends, book and product reviews, question-and-answer profiles, and so forth.

Then there are the postings that carry a "surprise" element. Unplanned happenings off the bike or those that only materialized while I was out for a pedal. Funny ones, like our boyish shenanigans at the bike shop. And the more serious kind, namely those times when motorists weren't willing to share the road or when I made a mess of my body in the Northwoods Gravel Grind a couple of years ago.

A lot of effort goes into not being repetitive; as stated earlier, the freshness factor is important in my writings. With that in mind, I knew I wanted to do another century ride before the end of this year and, in turn, describe the experience. Having recounted previous 100-mile journeys with words, I realized it was imperative to do something different. So I did.

My bikes "at the ready" in my basement.

Instead of going the entire distance — which actually ended up being 102 miles — on just one two-wheeled machine, this past Sunday I swung my leg over the top tube of seven different bicycles. That's right, seven. My fat bike. My mountain bike. My two gravel bikes. And my three road bikes. So, indeed, it wasn't your typical century.

This kind of strategy called for sticking close to home and utilizing three specific routes — starting out on my heavier beasts on shorter jaunts and progressing to the lighter and speedier thoroughbreds of my stable for longer stretches. To my benefit, when the time came to switch bikes, I was able to grab the necessary food and drink to keep fueled up, plus make clothing changes to stay warm and comfortable.

Anticipating it would take the whole day to accomplish my task, an early start was essential. So I took off at sunrise, with the thermometer showing 28 degrees and a "feels like" reading of 22. The warmest it would achieve during the ride was 43 degrees and at the end — an hour after sunset — it had dropped down to 36 degrees. My total travel time on the bicycles ended up being seven hours and 25 minutes.

Here, in order, are the seven bikes I used and a few details. The only one that stayed home for the day was my thirty-five-year-old Schwinn Circuit.

2016 Specialized Fatboy fat bike: On the Kennebec River Rail Trail, for 55 minutes and a distance of 10.49 miles.

2019 Trek Fuel EX 5 mountain bike: On the Kennebec River Rail Trail, for 48 minutes and a distance of 10.50 miles. Maximum speed, 22.7 miles per hour; average speed, 12.9 mph.

2018 Specialized Crux gravel bike: On road loop, for 55 minutes and a distance of 13.30 miles. Maximum speed, 29.5 mph; average speed, 14.3 mph.

2023 Trek Checkpoint gravel bike: On road loop, for 56 minutes and a distance of 13.25 miles. Maximum speed, 32.2 mph; average speed, 14.0 mph.

2010 Trek 2.3 road bike: On road loop, for one hour and 21 minutes and a distance of 21.11 miles. Maximum speed, 32.7 mph; average speed, 15.6 mph.

2017 Trek Domane road bike: On road loop, for one hour and 32 minutes and a distance of 21.43 miles. Maximum speed, 30.9 mph; average speed, 13.9 mph.

2023 Trek Domane road bike: On road loop, for 58 minutes and a distance of 11.87 miles. Maximum speed, 28.6 mph; average speed, 12.1 mph.

For the 102 miles, I burned a total of 3,722 calories and had an elevation gain of 3,734 feet.

What made the ride interesting was the changeover between the different bicycles. Going from flat handlebars to drop bars, flat pedals to clipless pedals, regular shoes to ones with cleats. And even switching from trail riding to the road. One highpoint was finishing up in the dark, with a headlight mounted on my helmet guiding me along the Kennebec River Rail Trail. Coming around the last bend and seeing the lights of my hometown of Hallowell reflecting off the river. An image to remember.

This was my twenty-eighth century. Not too bad for not having done my first one until I was forty-nine. And the fact that I will be celebrating my seventy-first birthday this coming Sunday. Stay safe!

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