Saturday, September 29, 2007
In the bicycling world, 100 miles in one shot is called a century. Though the most I have ridden in one day is about 75 miles, 100 seemed very "doable".
For my first century, I chose to ride with a local cycling club called the Niagara Frontier Bicycling Club. In this way the route would be planned out for me and there would be at least minimal support should something go wrong. They name the ride the Can-Am. The people they had manning the rest stops were very nice and the food was plentiful. I would suggest this ride for anyone interested in a century. They also had two shorter rides- I think a 42 and 32.
We have had almost no rain this summer, but on this particular day it rained all day. Not on and off, mind you, but for 95 miles out of the 100. The route traveled up the Canadian side of the Niagara River, all the way to Lewiston, ON, then crossed the bridge into the US, trekked along the Niagara River going East to Wilson, NY and then back to Buffalo, NY. I was at a distinct advantage on this ride, because I have traveled almost all of this route in sections. I did a Niagara Falls loop in mid-August, traveling up the Canadian side and back down the U.S. side and in early September I did a one way trek to Wilson, NY. Because of this, I knew the twisted intricacies of the Peace Bridge in Buffalo and was also oriented to the route through Lewiston. The only place I was a little disoriented was exiting the Queenston/Lewiston bridge back into the U.S. There the road is basically an expressway and you must get off it as quickly as possible. Some of my fellow travelers apparently went too far on the expressway and had difficulty getting off of it. I do personally wonder if Customs is trying to kill cyclists, because they tried to tell us to go to the first exit in order to leave the customs plaza at the Peace Bridge and sent us down the middle lane (truck/rv/car lane) at the Lewiston bridge, never thinking to close the lane for us- full speed traffic coming at us with no divider to save us if someone crossed the middle line.
The route on the U.S. side of the Niagara gorge is really nice, for they have closed off one side of the Robert Moses parkway to motorized vehicles and you get two car lanes plus the ample shoulder on which to ride. You have to share it with pedestrians and roller bladers. Quite amazing really.
I did the ride in 6.5 hours. This is amazing, considering I consider myself to be a slow rider; about 16mph. Doing the calculations, that would put me at about 15.4mph, but I did stop at all the rest areas and eat a banana or chocolate chip cookies. Slow and steady makes the grade.
I do feel a little odd sometimes traveling with a club. Most members have fancy bikes with carbon fibre frames and bicycle shoes with toe cleats. I ride my touring bicycle: heavy, long, with fenders and front bag, lights and sneakers with old school toe clips. One of the club members did mention how nice fenders would have been in the pouring rain...