Monday, March 24, 2014

The Fuentes 100 (A First Century Ride)

Ruben Fuentes is an Everglades Bicycle Club member. He is also a ride leader on Saturday EBC club rides. Ruben lives life fully, and he's a lot of fun to be around. A while back we heard that Ruben was putting together a special ride. It was for him and some EBC friends who wanted to do their first century as a group. The route was from Ruben's home in Miami Shores to Boca Raton mostly along A1A. Talk about a lovely route. The weather promised to be perfect. Could we tag along? He said we could.

It would be the first century for Maria Boza, Brian Coomes, Ruben Fuentes, Carmen Hiers, Anthony Nicholas Ingham, Maite Oca, Nelson Moreno, Alex Pruna, Alexander Restrepo, and Boyd Taylor. Other riders were along as moral support for our EBC friends.

We arrived at Ruben's place before dawn, parked our cars, organized bikes, and got ourselves sorted. Jerry Boyarsky, another EBC member, had generously offered to SAG for the ride. He had coolers in his car for our food and drinks, and there was space for our spare gear as well. There were three pre-arranged rest stops, and Jerry would meet us at the stops.

Lots of pictures were taken in the pre-dawn light. Then it was pedals up, and we were off down the road. We quickly formed a nice double paceline, and wheeled smartly down the road, lights blinking cheerfully as we rolled along. The first miles went by swiftly. Soon the sky brightened, and the sun crept up over the horizon's edge.

Pedal, pedal, pedal. Soon we were at our first rest stop at the 17th Street causeway in Fort Lauderdale. We descended on Jerry's SAG car for refreshments. Then it was back on the road. The day got warmer, but spirits were high. We chatted as we rode. The pace was good, 16-17 miles per hour, a pace we could all manage for the full 100 miles.

Being a long ride, the unexpected happened. There were a couple of flats which were rapidly fixed. There were a few wrong turns that were quickly sorted out. Jerry Boyarsky's SAG was invaluable. He saved the day with a mechanical or two, and he was there, too, when a rider needed a bit of help. (And extra special credit goes to Anthony Nicholas Ingham's century since he did the century with a broken pedal clip! Now that, boys and girls, is true grit.)

The second rest stop was Palmetto Park. We got to see it twice since it was five miles short of our turn-around point. We made the first stop, enjoyed the shade of the covered overlook by the beach, then pedaled on the five miles, turned back, and enjoyed the shade again. We were past the half-way mark. The heat of the day and the miles had wilted some of our early enthusiasm, but there was still a lot of smiling and chatting happening. We were heading home.

We had a good number of draw bridges to cross over the 100 mile route, and it became a joke because it seemed every one of them was up when we approached. Of course, that meant we got a brief break to drink some fluids, check our phones, and take some pictures.

Our last rest stop was back at the 17th Street causeway in Fort Lauderdale. We popped into the nearby Publix. Air conditioning! Goodies were purchased and consumed. We were 3/4 of the way done. The end was in sight. We stretched our legs and savored popsicles and munchies. Too soon it was pedals up, and again we wheeled down the road.

The last miles of any long ride are always the most difficult. The little discomforts that were so easy to ignore earlier in the ride seem harder to put aside. Your eyes seem always to be straying to the trip odometer. Your speed hasn't changed, but the miles seem to take longer to roll by.

And then something awesome happens. The odometer reads just a couple of miles to go. Your mood gets lighter. Almost there...97...98...99...99.5...And then the number rolls up. 100. We're there. 100 miles. We've done a century!

It was time to celebrate.

Riding a hundred miles in one day is a landmark. Ruben posted on Facebook that it is like your first kiss, something you never forget. It's that and more.