You know you have awesome friends when they come all the way from Detroit, MI to Tellico Plains, TN so they can camp and ride 100 miles with you. Well half of us completed the 100 miles – Liz and Jason blasted through those hills like they didn’t even exist, completing the Fall Century. Matt and I turned our century ride into a metric century (62 miles) but we did this on the 100 mile route, getting scooped up by the Vulture. Before I got to the end of this, I should have started at the beginning.
We camped just up the road from the house I’m staying at in the Cherokee National Forest. The night before the ride we made this huge dinner- vegan of course! I really miss being around other vegans and making food with people who enjoy devouring vegan deliciousness. We had a super high carb dinner consisting of pasta with a sauce I call my Mountain Mac ‘n’ Chz (lots of nutritional yeast, etc). The pasta also had broccoli in it, and we dumped in some sweet potatoes for extra carbs. We also made a side of sauteed onions and tempeh covered in barbecue sauce. We ate our dinner by the glow of our headlamps and then strapped the bikes to the cars for the next morning.
At 5:30am the next morning we all crawled out of our tents into the cold, damp and dark morning. Peanut butter and jellies were made while water boiled for the oatmeal. As prepared as we felt, we ended up arriving in Loudon for the start of the century ride just moments before it was to begin. Bikes needed to be adjusted after being taken off of the racks, we had to check in and scurry around getting other things together for the ride. We took off almost an hour late! Yikes!
During this ride I realized that I ride really slow, but I felt ok to great most of the way, minus my morning of congestion. My plan was to ride slow and steady to complete the full 100. We only passed a couple of people to the first rest area. Around the half way point I was feeling better than I have ever felt after riding 50 miles. I was making sure to eat and drink a good amount and I think this helped a great deal. Matt rode strong for the first half, almost always ahead of me, but the rolling hills weren’t enjoyable after 50 miles. We decided to end together at 62 miles. I wanted this to be an experience for both of us, I had been telling Matt how much harder it has been for me to ride down here versus riding in Detroit. We also needed to gauge about how many miles we could accomplish together in one day.
The weather was perfect though and we couldn’t have asked for it to be better. Upper 70s to lower 80s, hardly any wind and no rain. The morning was cold and foggy but didn’t last long. Dave and the rest of SMW did a superb job organizing the event and even made sure to have vegan food for us. There were plenty of snacks at the rest areas and the routes were well marked. I highly suggest riding this century!
I felt comfortable as well and wasn’t even sore the next day. I’m sure Matt and I will be riding multiple century rides soon enough!
After the ride we went into Maryville for some vegan pizza and cupcakes at The Tomato Head. Tired and worn down we crawled into our tents that evening with a sense of accomplishment.
Matt, Liz and Jason headed back to Detroit the next afternoon leaving me to realize how much I truly value our friendships and having a social life. I love the forest and riding my bike but they are amplified when I have friends here to share the experience with.