Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rapha Womens 100: The Ride, Wildlife & Kit of the Day

On the highway for the FIRST ever Rapha Womens 100 Sportive
Somewhere in the wilds of NJ:Today is the day! I've been training for this first ever women's sportive and was awake at 4:30am. I was so excited! Training last month saw not one but two rear flat tires. However when I checked my computer this morning it seemed it wasn't reading anything but the time! I didn't have time to consult the "pit crew" so I took off as the sun was rising along with the heat.

Training for the Ride
I didn't go crazy with training but simply used my heavier Nishiki Sport Touring bicycle for most of my rides. With added bags, panniers and rear trunks, it's at least 20 lbs heavier than my Terry Symmetry. I've enjoyed smoothies with Rainbow Light Protein Energizers and that's really all I had before my ride today. I wasn't hungry nor did I "bonk" on the many hills I took along the way. It also gave me a bit of a head start on the hydration I was going to need because it's supposed to be over 90 degrees (again) today. I also trained in the heat to acclimatize myself to the hot weather.

Hydration Issues
The logistics of doing more than half a century ride includes taking along enough water. My Womens 100 route is a very rural one so refilling once you're out there was iffy. I took along a 24 oz and 12 oz Thermal Polar Bottle and stuck the smaller one in my rear jersey pouch. Filled with ice, they stay refreshingly cool for extended rides. The other problem is that us women need restroom facilities, (at least I do), as what goes in must come out. So riding in open country can be an issue there too.

Wildlife Challenge
I did see a group of other women cyclists while I was stopped to take some pictures during my ride. I asked if any of them were doing the Rapha Womens 100 today and they all said "No". So that was the first time I'd seen a group of all women riders out. What I saw more of was all this crazy wildlife!  First a snapping turtle was in the road and I stopped along with a police officer to shuffle him over.  Here's Mr. Snappy ready to blow a hole in my front tire.
Snapping turtle about the size of a dinner plate that I nearly hit during the Womens 100 today.
Not only was Mr. Turtle obstructing the road but I also saw wild turkeys and their chicks running along side the highway. There were also goats and horses, (they were NOT in the road thank God), a low flying hawk and a turkey buzzard. This was SO beautiful but you have to get up early to see wildlife like this. I think if I had left too early, I might have missed seeing them as most cycling eye wear can be a little too dark to wear before sunrise. I knew this was going to be an issue so I left at about 6:15 am.    

Having had a liquid breakfast, I was doing really well energy and hydration-wise. However as the sun was rising ever higher, so was the temperature. It was already in the 80's and rather humid when I left. So when I finally did stop to refuel, I had my Chocolate #9 Agave Gel and lots of cool water.  This is a low glycemic energy gel for a slow burn but it revived me very quickly so that I was able to sprint for the last leg of my ride home.

I keep  Chocolate #9 in my Medical Kit for bonking emergencies.
Space Issues
The thing is that on my touring bicycle, I have a rear rack which can accommodate all sorts of trunks, panniers and baskets. My Terry Symmetry is a sport bicycle so I only have the bare minimum of carry on luggage. I have a little wedge seat bag hung onto my aero bars and that's it! Still I am able to fit this Ultralight-Watertight Medical Kit .5, extra medicines, feminine supplies, my cell and a few gel packs. I also keep a few packets of Topricin homeopathic pain cream and some Bayer aspirin. Trust me, these small items offer a major comfort when you're out on the highway away from civilization. Travel light but right.

A horse farm as seen from the roadway on my Womens 100 ride today.

My Kit of the Day: Giordana's Womens Trade FRC (FormaRed Carbon)
The NYC Metro area is in the middle of a heatwave with temps in the mid 90's and humidity almost as high. At 6:15 am it was already above 80 degrees as the night time temps did not cool things off very much. So I picked a high performance kit which offered lightness, wicking action and a UPF of 50+.

My Giordana Kit washed and drying on the clothes line.
The Jersey
The Giordana FRC Trade Jersey has everything I love in a cycling top and more. Made in Italy these garments offer a WCF or Women's Contour Fit.  They totally get that we are not flat like the guys and this kit fits like a second skin. Not only that, even riding in the heat and humidity was a joy. So light and airy. Built in sun protection also kept things from heating up. Three rear open pouches made it easy to carry an extra water bottle which I needed today and a little zippered pocket can hold some cash or your cell. I especially like the wide arm bands which were comfortable while staying put. They are covered with reflective material so night riding in this kit will be no problem.

The Bibs
The Giordana FRC Trade Bib Shorts had just the right amount of padding without being bulky and uncomfortable. Long rides in the saddle can tire anyone but I was very much in charge with their flexible chamois called the W Cirro O.F. Pad. This was designed for their top of the line women's bibs and is incorporated with Aloe Vera to cool, protect and fight bacteria. The memory foam has a waffled texture and helps in venting and perspiration management. In fact after my ride when I took them off, the chamois was surprisingly dry! The shorts are made of the same high tech FormaRed Carbon material that makes the matching jersey so light and wicking. Same thing for the wide leg bands that stay in place while giving you a smooth leg line.

My kit of the day included Rudy Project's Wind Max lid, also being worn by Peter Sagan in the TDF.
The Wrap
All in all I am very pleased and thankful for the day as I logged a personal best and was treated to an amazing show of woodland and water animals. While I have done many charity rides and a mountain bike competition, I have only done about 14.5 miles at a time. Today I did 20.9 miles and could have done more. My original route for this sportive was detoured due to a local bridge being out, so I had to be a bit creative in re-mapping a ride that was both safe and scenic. I believe I succeeded on both and I'm happy that I didn't hit any animals or have any accidents or flats. Those women riders whom I saw on my ride don't know what they just missed. An opportunity to participate in a worldwide event that pushes us women to reach a goal...together.  Well, maybe next year?

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