Every so often my coach will assign a road century for my Saturday workout, and in the past, my compliance has been spotty. The first time this task appeared on my calendar, I was afraid of going on a ride that long by myself, since carrying that many hours' worth of food and water on my road bike would be difficult; there would be no trips back to the car for refills like with long mountain bike rides. So I decided to leave the food/water/support to someone else and made arraingements to do the nearest organized century ride that day, which was nearly three hours away. It was a tiring but fun day and I blew all previous long road ride efforts out of the water trying to make sure I wasn't the last person off the road after a late start. Of course, that was last season when I was trying to establish a good relationship with my new coach and I followed pretty much every instruction with dogged precision.
When I was instructed to do a road century again in February, an organized ride was not an option. After researching some routes, I decided to break from dogged precision figured that doing the famed "Nashville 90" route would be close enough. Unfortunately, my ability for dogged precision had basically broken after the Pisgah stage race, and when I was assigned a road century on Saturday and another five or six hours on Sunday, I got seriously overwhelmed. I panicked two hours into my attempt at the Nashville 90 and turned around and went home before it was too late.
After that, the road century was off the table again for a while, and it didn't come up again until a few weeks ago. I very near the rock bottom point of my late spring/early summer slump and I never really even considered subjecting myself to a road ride that long. I planned to substitute a six-hour mountain bike ride, but even that turned into about a one-hour ride.
When my July schedule came with the road century schedule again, I got the feeling that I would not be off the hook until I HTFU'd and did it. I still had never completed a Nashville 90 in my nearly five years in Bloomington, so I decided it was time. I got up Saturday morning, put a bottle of unflavored Heed in both my bottle cages, a bottle of water in my jersey pocket, three flasks of gel in my other pockets, and a bit of cash in case I had the chance to buy more food and/or water along the way. As I mentioned before, my biggest fear on doing this ride had do with inadequate nutrition/hydration during the course of the ride.
I missed the start of the Bloomington Bicycle Club ride by about ten minutes, but I can't say that was totally an accident. While I liked the idea of not being alone on the route, I didn't really want to have to ride in a big group for 6-7 hours and make small talk with people who rode up next to me and tried to talk into my (deaf) left ear. I figured the late arrival strategy worked well for the previous century and maybe I could apply that day, as well. I did eventually catch a straggler who indeed rode up on my left side and told me that most of the riders did a short route and only the fastest riders were doing the full 90. He informed me of food and water stops along the way, which eased my mind, and I kept riding after he stopped so that I could be alone with my own pace and thoughts.
I made my planned water stop at the Story Inn, where I was able to go into the external bathroom next to the beer garden and refill my bottles. However, as I rolled along, the gel/Heed/water combo was not doing it for me. I decided that I should make another stop in Nashville and get another form of calories and see if that would work for me. I considered various locations and food items, and came to the conclusion that would stop at the BBQ stand with the leme shake-up sign on the far end of town and get one of those. It totally hit the spot, except for the lump that drink a 32 oz beverage in less than 10 minutes left in my stomach. It digested quickly and the last two hours of the ride were much more pleasant.
So I finally got up the courage to do my first unsupported Nashville 90. It was not nearly as hard as I had imagined, and that I know the food/water stops, I don't have to stuff my pockets until they are about to burst. I just need to bring some money for whatever sounds good along the way.