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Spring into action

CENTURY SCENE ... Junkers in Maine dooryards are a common occurrence.

Through the years, I've always been on the lookout for springtime century rides; even seeking participation in other New England states south of Maine, thinking the earlier arrival of nice weather might prompt a call for 100-mile bike rides. But such is not the case, for the most part.

Typical event-linked centuries, certainly before the pandemic, usually happen in mid-to-late summer or in the fall, when temperatures begin to cool off. Maybe having one too early in the season wouldn't be a good idea for cyclists, with most people lacking sufficient time in the saddle to undertake a six- to seven-hour trek.

So this past week, specifically on Saturday, while having a sort of "bee in my bonnet" over undertaking such an ordeal, I decided to do my own self-supported century. My longest rides to date in 2021 had been in the 32-mile range, but with nearly 1,700 miles under my belt, I thought 100 was doable.

The mammoth journey also happen to coincide with the first ride of the season with my usual pedaling partners, namely Jon and Scott. Although, they weren't privy to my plans prior to meeting at my Hallowell home.

Slated to get together at 1 p.m., I hit the road at 9:30 a.m. and went solo for the first 49 miles. Upon meeting my two pals at the appointed time, I said, "I'm all warmed up" and revealed what had taken placed over the previous three-plus hours. Jon's response matched the look on his face: "Are you pulling my leg?"

Needless to say, it was great cruising with them again. We always have a good time, chat quite a bit, and poke fun at each other whenever possible. Like the fact that Scott was already shedding clothing before we even took our first pedal stroke. He is almost always overdressed, and Jon and I never hesitate to remind him of this little flaw in his character.

It was a gorgeous day for a ride and the three of us ended up spinning our wheels together for 43 miles. After they departed, I finished the last eight miles by myself to hit the century mark.

I felt good and was pleased with my results. I covered the first 49 miles in three hours and 11 minutes, with an average speed of 15.3 mph. For the entire 100 miles, it took me seven hours and six minutes — over a time span of eight hours — and my average speed was 14.1 mph. The highest speed I obtained during the ride was 44 mph, so yes, there were some giant hills. I'm pretty sure my elevation gain for the day was easily 6,000-to-7,000 feet, including one monster climb that every time I encounter it, I think I'm going to have a heart attack.

But, fortunately, I didn't and my passion for riding lives on. Stay safe!

'Thought for the day'

"When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle." — Elizabeth Howard West

From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)

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