Today I rode my first sanctioned ride; The Millerton Metric. 71 miles, 3500 feet of climbing. Sound tough? It was extremely tough. But it’s really part of a much larger ride called the Climb to Kaiser which apparently is one of the 10 hardest rides around. But let’s not talk about that.
The ride started off well, we got on the road at 6am for a 23 mile jaunt through town and into the foothills to the infamous first climb of the day: Wildcat Grade. It also happened to be the place where I got my first flat tire of the day. Luckily the group that organizes this ride is VERY organized and a dude pulled up in a pickup with a bike stand, tools, and plenty of tubes. It took him about 5 minutes to fix me up and get me back on the road. These guys are awesome! So with a new tire it was time to climb Wildcat. Wildcat is only 3.5 miles long but is extremely steep. I knew it would be the most difficult climb of the day for me. But I managed to get up it and stopped at the summit for the first rest stop.
After a brief rest, it’s 3.5 miles down the back of Wildcat at speeds of around 40Mph. It’s amazing how much more fun it is to go downhill than it is coming up! We had heard some bad news though about a rider who had a cow run out into the road so we were a little cautious. Apparently he hit the cow pretty hard and broke his collar bone. Cycling is dangerous! I had a little scare with a farm animal myself, dodging a rooster who was goofing off in the road. After that though, it was mostly smooth sailing until the turn to head up Burrough Valley road.
This is where I got my next flat. I was trailing Doug and we noticed a clicking sound coming from his wheel. I came up behind him and saw something sticking out of his tire. We stopped to take a closer look and realized it was a safety pin! It was at that point I realized my back tire was going flat again, so we were both going to need to do a change. We had the equipment to do the job but lucky for us, a support vehicle came buy with spare tubes and a real pump. We spent 15 minutes fixing the bikes and then went on to kill the long grinding climb to the next rest stop.
At the stop we ran into our buddy Roderick from church who was working the stop. He’s a great dude and it was cool seeing a familiar face. We rested and chatted a bit and then headed out.
From there the route goes up to Hwy 168, over to Prather an then down to Millerton lake. At this point we were started to feel the burn and Dave was cramping up. We made it to the Millerton rest stop to power up, but it was now 100° and we were really starting to feel fatigued. With only 13 miles to go though, we weren’t about to quit.
We started the decent to the city and honestly, this is where the ride got extremely tough. The heat was becoming unbearable and every little climb felt like a mountain. Once I reached the city, I was thanking God for flat ground but even then it was a chore to pedal. My legs just didn’t have anything left, the heat was draining me of my energy, and to top it off, I was up against a headwind. It honestly felt like I was just letting the weight of my legs push the pedals down because I could not muster enough of my own strength to really crank hard.
We finally pulled up to the finish line 6 hours and 15 minutes after beginning our trek. This was over an hour faster than we had planned for ourselves and that felt really good, especially with the long rests we had at the rest stops.
Final thoughts? I am stoked. 8 weeks after I bought my first bike, I managed to complete a 71 miler. I am very pleased with how we did and now we have a benchmark for next year. It’s been an outstanding time of training and fellowship and I’m really glad I took on this hobby.
So now I’m just kicking it with a cheeseburger and a beer. No more dieting today, it’s time to celebrate!