I asked Katie for a paragraph comment on the Sadistic Century and she sent me this wonderful write-up! Sounds like a ride to target next year!--BJ
I wake up to my alarm…. 4:30am…. On a Saturday.
Get out of bed, stumble around, find my gear, and off we go to Menomonie to participate in the Sadistic Century. I ask Micah in the car, “We pay to do this?” I know we have a long day in front of us, and that feeling I may be in over my head continues to grow- for one, it’s called the ‘Sadistic’ century, and well, that’s enough.
We arrive at the ice arena in Menomonie, where the event starts and finishes. The atmosphere is very relaxed with a rolling start anytime between 7-8. The tagline at the bottom of the map your receive is, “The key to being able to complete your ride is to ride the hills only hard enough to get up them, and use the flat stretches and descents to recover. Go slow and enjoy the ride, it’s not a race!” And right above that is the SAG number.
The course is marked with yellow arrows on the road. Great…. Yellow, remember yellow I think to myself Looking around I realize I am the only one with a mountain bike- I’m thinking that is strange, but I’ve never actually done a road ride, so how hard can this be?
Micah and I start out together, ride through town, past Lucette Brewery, and then I tell him to take off without me. He is doing the 100 miler and I am shooting to finish the 100k. Before he goes, he says, “I’ll turn my phone on half way through, sure you got this?” My typical reply is always, “You bet, I’m too stubborn to not.” He takes off like a bat outta hell, and then the sadistic hills begin.
The first and second aren’t too shabby. I don’t mind hills, for one thing I like the challenge- at least that is what I force myself to think. In the near distance I see this shorter, but freakin STEEP hill, okay okay…. This will be a fun one….. I start to climb, a group of people pass me, I look over at them, no one is talking, and think- man, they are moving SLOW, and then the realization sets in that I must look like I’m at a standstill, a sloth on a bike-ha that would be hilarious! The climb continues as does the grade, is my bike going to tip backwards?? CLIMB, CLIMB, BREATHE, and finish…. Uff da. Alright, 3 down, 5,000 to go…… and then I chuckle again with the image of a sloth on a bike.
The ride and hills continue and I’m feeling good, as people pass me they comment on my mountain bike (which I call Rocky)- “Wow, nice work on that bike, you’re in for a real workout” and “Nice training- getting some miles in, eh?”
If you know me at all, I brought Rocky because I hadn’t thought any details through… seriously, didn’t even look at the map. Typically when I do events, I go with the ‘sign up and then figure out how to finish when you get there’ thought process… I reply with a weary smile, head nod, and “You bet!” At that point I swore that this was the last event I was doing with that thought process… we’ll see.
The first aid station comes at mile 13…. 7 total for the 100 miler and 4 for the 100k. All were a happy oasis with friendly volunteers, lots of good treats, drinks, and a bathroom. Quick stop and I’m back at it. At this point I know that I’m towards the end of the pack and it will be important to keep a steady ‘pace’ to try and not have this take all day. Now, I say this ‘steady pace’ crap to myself for a little motivation, but in all reality, when I do events like this I don’t have any way of knowing. I did have my phone, but placed it in my pack on airplane mode, just in case I really was in over my head!
My favorite part of these events are just that, going radio silent and being out with your own thoughts- being a kid again and having to figure out how to keep yourself entertained.
My least favorite part is the ongoing fear that something will happen to my bike, a flat, something with the chain, ect. I am still not very mechanically inclined if you will… so I have ‘tools’ in my pack, that to be honest, I may or may not be able to use. I pass a group of three gentleman who are changing a flat, and my fear gets stronger and my thoughts drift to that: Okay, you get a flat, you have the tire and the tools, what are they called? Come on, if you’re going to use them you should know what they’re called, those… ya know, mine are red…. Thingamabobs. Then my mind drifts even further: I've got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, I've got whozits and whatzits galore, You want thingamabobs? I've got twenty!.....And I continue to butcher the lyrics to that little mermaid song which gets me through at least another 5 miles.
Now comes the half-way point, the glass half full, the…. RAIN. The hills continue and the rain starts out at a doable sprinkle, which gradually gets heavier and harder. Luckily I had my rain coat. Took a turn on a two way loop and finally saw other riders that were coming back this way. The rain made for an obstacle that I never had to deal with, which led to the beginning of my mental bonk. At the bottom of another enormously long hill was an aid station, however you took a left before it for the start of the loop. I yelled through the down pour at a few people to confirm what was clearly marked and I knew was right (but just needed to hear it from someone else), “THIS IS A LOOP RIGHT, THIS AID STATION IS AT THE END OF IT??” “YEP” they yell back with a thumbs up. Alright, don’t stop now, keep going and reward yourself with the station after a few more miles, I mean, it’s probably only 4 or so… and more than likely all downhill, then you can dry off.
HA, I’ll call this next hour and half of 10 miles the Moral Trials and Tribulations of Humanity….. It started with a long uphill followed by more uphill, with a top of uphill- did I mention this was a long hill???? And that is where my mental bonk hit hard. I hadn’t seen anyone in quite some time, or a yellow mark, and if I see one more freaking corn field… I swear. The rain was gushing down around me and I started to descend, which was actually nerve wracking, every and all thoughts were running through my mind as I tried with all my might to keep one eye open and dodge the bullet rain drops from permanently damaging my face (maybe just a little exaggeration, but I really did go down the hill switching what eye was open), “this is unsafe, do bikes hydroplane? Is this where I die? Was that a worm that just hit me in the face?” And then the ultimate thought- “Can I seriously do this?”
This my friends, is where your mind makes a choice of which direction you are going. There is only one way, and that is forward. What else are you going to do, get off your bike and go sit in the corn field? There are at least 40 other riders out here somewhere going through this with you….Put your big girl shorts on and finish. That was a turning point for me, soon after I saw a yellow arrow on the road (almost got off my bike to kiss it) and shortly after that I entered the small town of Knapp and a gentleman passed me, he was doing the 100 miler and said we were at mile 41ish and the aid station was three miles ahead. A wave of relief and energy washed over me. I almost jumped off my bike and kissed him too.
I refueled at the aid station and had a soft and delicious oatmeal raisin cookie. The rain started to let up, the weather bumped up a few degrees, I was officially in last place, and all that was left was to finish- I felt better than I had in hours. Off I went, entering the ‘zone out stage’ of any long event. No more thoughts to think. The rest of the course was just as promised, more sadistic ups and downs. I continued on only briefly giving a woohoo and thumbs up to the sag wagon that was picking up the pieces of the event behind me.
Rolling into the parking lot I look at my jeep- no bikes, good… I beat Micah :) Changed out into dry clothes and enjoyed the fantastic free taco feast, cold beverages, and conversations with other riders. I was able to chat with the first finisher of the 100 miler…. Who did the race in just over 5 hours, his goal was to get it in sub 5, but, you know, the hills were just too many. I smiled in admiration.
Why do these events? For the reasons above, it teaches me how to move forward and defeat the mental bonk. Because they can happen anytime, during a sadistic event, or heck, let’s face it, a Monday at work. It teaches me that there are other crazy people out there who are fantastic, focused, and fun. It teaches me to be humble and proud of accomplishments, because it is a startling and wonderful feeling when you hear yourself say, “I have never been more proud or worked harder to finish last.” And above all, I do these events for…. The Beer This was a well run, marked, and thought out event. I highly recommend this to anyone. Volunteers were amazing and I thank them for sticking out the rain with us!
Read more about the Sadistic Century here!