Call this ride the Aero Special. I did a course that was, yes, repetitive, but had the significant virtue of offering literally hours of riding uninterrupted by impediments to getting in a Levi-like tuck (oh, sure) and becoming a stupid pedaling machine. Impediments like hills, as this course profile reveals:
But it was more than the lack of hills that made this course perfect for trainer-like riding continuity: Once I got out to Marine Drive—where the yellow line above meets the Columbia River west of the Airport—I could ride unmolested for 12.5 miles to where Marine ends at I-84 in Troutdale. Zero traffic signals or stop signs. So I did that back and forth three times, basically, and that with the miles it took to get to the river added up to 100.44 on my Garmin. (An extra 44, as in Willie Mac, it occurred to me.)
What made the ride interesting was that there was a killer Gorge wind blowing today. Afterward I checked the data for PDX, which I rode by six times. While I was out there, sustained winds ranged from 20 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. So when I was going east, I was struggling to maintain 15 or 16 mph. Then on the way back, I’d zoom well up into the 20s, occasionally topping 30. The whole texture of the ride was defined by the wind. Heading east, the only sounds were the wind. Even when a giant plane would take off and pass seemingly just a few hundred yards above me, the sound of the wind won out. It was a roar, and I need to emphasize that while heading east, it never let up, that roar.
One thing the wind sure did was motivate me to stay as aero as possible. I was amused to see a couple of guys with aero bars riding into the wind totally upright. If you’re not going to go aero when you’re taking on a 25 mph wind, I say yank those suckers off your bike and use ‘em to stake your baby tomato vines. Me, I was aero for at least 98 of the 100 miles, pulling up only when I was heading to and from the river and dealing with traffic. Also, I did not stop pedaling. I never coasted. My average speed was 17.4 mph, but that includes the aforementioned riding through traffic as well as three stops, one of about 10 minutes for food, another of about five minutes to refill my water bottle and one of about five minutes to pee and stretch a bit. So my riding pace was probably around 19 mph, which I’m abundantly pleased about given what a challenge it can be to maintain intensity on a long solo ride.
Lastly, the nutrition report: I set out with one full water bottle, a PowerBar and two Hammer gels. I consumed all that by Mile 65, where, at Blue Lake Park, I refilled the water bottle, drank half of it, then refilled it again. At Mile 75 I hit the McDonald’s for a dollar McDouble. I finished off the water bottle by the time I got home. Immediately used the last of the Hammer Revitalize (or whatever they call it) powders I got in a race goodie back somewhere along the way.
By the way, did I forgot to say explicitly that I was bagging My Wildflower? My Wildflower was a private half-iron race—1.2 miles at the Dish, a 56-mile bike ride around town and 13.1-mile run on Mount Tabor—I got a notion to do after recoiling at the expense, in time and cash, of heading down to California for Wildflower. My Wildflower was set for today, but to make a long story short I figured going hard at shorter distances wasn't going to do anything but wear me out. So instead I decided to do three consecutive days each featuring a single very long effort. So Wednesday I ran 20 on the trails; yesterday I swam 2.25 in the pool; and today was century time.
Of these three, the 100-mile ride was the workout most likely to be trimmed (with extensive and well-crafted rationalizations, of course). So while I’m pleased that I rode it aero and rode it at a good pace, I’m mostly pleased that I rode it all.