Back after I started riding again, I set myself the goal of completing this 100k populaire as motivation to keep myself on the back. After weeks spent on the trainer over the winter and slowly building up my mileage, it was time to actually do it.
The ride started at Hanscom Airfield in Bedford, with a crowd of about 70 standing around and riding circles in the parking lot to warm up. It was fairly chilly at about 45˚, but was supposed to warm up later in the day. We started off south from the airfield towards Lincoln, and I think I was a bit anxious as I started a bit quick and had a hard time finding a rhythm. I settled in eventually though, and it was pretty smooth and flat rolling until the first hill in Bolton. I was still feeling good though, and descended from there towards the halway point in Sterling.
I had heard most of the hills were to come in the second half, so I took my time to stretch and eat a PB&J and some pretzels before heading out again. The next couple climbs were surrounding Harvard, MA, where I had always been told was the best spot for riding hills around Boston. I stopped for at the top of the first on Bare Hill road to have a snack and strip off my arm warmers now that it was firmly in the 60s (I’d lost the leg warmers at the half-way stop).
After the descent, there was one more up and then down into Harvard proper, where I coasted by the semi-famous Harvard General store, just enjoying not pedaling for a moment now 45 miles into the ride. Outside of Harvard was what seemed like the longest, and for me slowest, climb of the day. Partway up I heard another rider say “This is the last one, right?” which was all the motivation I needed.
After that last hill, it was a relatively easy ride back to Hanscom. At least it seems that way in retrospect, I’m sure I was getting a bit sore by then. I ended up finishing right at 5 hours total time, including about a half hour stopped. Overall I felt this was a success, and I even had the energy for an Ikea trip (and the resulting furniture assembly) afterward. While my work schedule will keep me out of the other NER events in 2014, there is always next year.