This past Saturday I rode in the Marin Century just north of San Francisco. This was my second year riding this event and I love how challenging and rewarding the course is. Last year I was coming off a long race schedule including the full Vineman Aquabike(2.4mi swim/112mi bike) a week prior. At the time I felt I was in the best biking shape of my life and I was really enjoying riding. This year I had a heavy race schedule earlier in June/July having raced three half/70.3’s(Hawaii, Portland & Vineman) in six weeks! After that I took an entire week off to recharge and have since kicked back into gear. I’m focused on trying to go sub 5hrs for the Half/70.3 distance on Sept 11th at the Big Kahuna Half down in Santa Cruz, CA! After talking with Coach Jeff, we decided to attack this century ride and really push my biking fitness. I can ride forever, but I need to work on my power output and intensity.
This is an awesome pic of a poster for the 1970 Marin Century and it was only $2 to ride back then and that included lunch!
My friend Rob rode with me last year as well, and we were excited to have another great day of riding. We started off at a good clip and we’re looking good on those first few climbs. We stopped very quickly under 1min at the first couple of rest stops and I never even got off my bike. I was prepared for the long day and had everything I needed on me. I had three bottles of First Endurance EFS with two additional baggies of mix to use at 56mi rest stop on refills. I also had three liquidshots with me and they were the perfect compliment to my EFS drinks.
It was around mile 30 where there were a bunch of rollers and I was feeling strong. You have to be careful on these rides on who you pass as there are some great riders who may just be chatting with buddies as we quickly found out. I had jumped out of my saddle to pass this one group and Rob joined me. As we passed they yelled: “there he goes, lets start our day”…oh shit, now I’ve done it. Within seconds we were a pack of 10 averaging well over 20mph on these rollers. Unknown to all of us, there was another large group of VeloStudio cats had been making steady progress in catching us and overtook all of us within that same 2min window! That led to a huge pack that was going faster than my comfort zone in the 22-23mph range. I was windy, so you had to hang on right?! Rob may disagree here, as he felt he burned himself out a bit here. We did end up staying with them or at least keeping them in sight for those next 20miles. Lastly there is a nasty 15% grade just before the 56mi rest stop and that brought on the pain cave. Luckily it was quick and that Nutella/Peanut Butter sandwich was perfect at the stop. We stopped for only 10min to eat and refill bottles and were off again.
Here is the one time that poor signage came into play, as most of that large group was forced to ride and extra 3-4mi due to a lack of a turn sign. We all figured it out and were back on track. That large group pulled away and we found a small group and hung together. Mile 56-72 goes along the coast and is made up of lots of sharp rollers. We seemingly were working harder than last year on these, as they were tough. Those sharp hills took its took before the nasty 800ft Marshall Wall climb!
Once we were close to the “wall”, it was time to fuel up and prepare for the battle. This climb crushed me last year and I fell back from my buddies. I was determined to hammer this one and had properly fueled up at the bottom. It’s a cat 3, 2.8mi climb up the 800 ft. Very quickly I pulled away from Rob and started to hammah. I felt great on the climb and was excited to feel strong. I ended up avg 8.5mph on the climb and Strava’s algorithmic calc estimated I avg’d 419 watts on the climb! At the very top, i pushed harder than I ever had and was rewarded with that “runners high” that we all strive for. I think I though of the word “blissful” as we had a nice 2% decline from the top on newly paved roads!
That brought us to the last real rest stop at 78ish miles. We only stopped for a few minutes and I must have ate 100 grapes. They are the perfect fuel! My goal was to then hammah the next 20miles interval style. Rob knew I was getting serious when I donned my ipod and downed some liquidshot. The start was hard, but I found my groove and kept my HR above 163 for the next hour. It felt great to push that hard and I was in my groove. I honestly have never felt so comfortable riding and was loving it! Due to all the climbing, I was riding my Scott CR1 PRO with ISM saddle. I also put on new rubber last week and she was perfect all day!
Strava is a cool site that can take your HR and other data and help you look at some analysis of your ride. I was psyched to see that their suffer score saw that I worked very hard throughout the day. I ended up finishing the 106mi in 6hrs and 7min, avg 17.2. That included 6,578ft of elevation gain and I burned 6,421 calories! I looked at last years data and saw that I avg 16.6 last year, so a major increase in speed for me over last year!!!
Overall a great day out there in Marin County! I would highly suggest anyone riding some local Century and/or Grand Fondo rides. They are a blast and also a great training tool to mix it up!
Until next time…