Along the Seagull Century Route

A lot of you have been after me to update the site after a bit of dormancy, so here's the first of a couple posts to get things going again.

Starting out on the Seagull CenturyOn October 6, 2007 I headed out before dawn to Maryland's Eastern Shore for the annual Seagull Century that is held by Salisbury University. Up until that time the highest mileage I had done in a single day was about 70 miles (twice, on two consecutive days) from Alexandria to Harper's Ferry. So, I thought I should be able to make the 100 miles the century had to offer. After a quick registration I put my racing numbers on my bike and shirt and made my way off to the start.

The day was unseasonably pleasant. I had heard horror stories about cold temperatures, strong rains, and fierce headwinds from people who did it the previous year. As I started there was a rather dense fog that made some of the initial navigation a bit tricky, but after the first SAG stop at Millburn Landing State park the fog started to burn off and blue skies prevailed for the rest of the day.

The first pitstop on the Seagull Century

For the first leg of about 23 miles I was feeling strong and was averaging somewhere around 16 miles per hour. I was carrying a lot of gear (probably too much) but at this point, it didn't seem so bad, and I was passing a lot of people. After getting some food and drink at the first SAG stop I continued on, this time a little bit slower, but still fairly energetic. With the fog clearing I was able to see the huge expanses of farmland around me. The Eastern Shore is mostly flat, and that day I was blessed with reasonably calm winds. I made it to the second SAG stop in reasonable time, and this time took a bit more time to rest and chug down some gatorade. At this point I was just shy of the half-way point at 42.1 miles in (a little longer actually, since I had overshot a turn in the fog shortly after the start). And my knee was starting to be a little sore. I was still fairly energetic, and confident that I would have more than enough energy to finish -- but the knee was starting to worry me.

Me on the bridge to Assateague Island during the Seagull Century

I decided to continue on and made my way to the next SAG stop. As I got closer and closer to Assateague Island (the next stop) my knee was getting progressively worse and my speed was starting to slow. I was looking forward to the impending break, and when I got to the island I took some time to relax and stretch out a bit. I also had some food and drink. As I continued to take the break I noticed the crowd thinning a bit, so I decided to press onward.

At the Assateague Island Pit Stop during the Seagull Century

Immediately my knee made its displeasure known, and I felt like I was going quite slow. I missed a turn and ended going several miles out of my way, further adding insult to my injury. Once I got back on track my knee really started to hurt and I was starting to pedal with one foot locked in the clipless bindings allowing my injured knee to dangle free. Slowly and painfully I made my way to the last SAG stop at Adkins Mill Pond.

I was one of the last people to get to this stop and they were in the process of closing things down. I was informed that the last SAG Wagon was leaving in a few minutes and I had a decision to make. My cycling GPS indicated I had gone 88 miles, and I had 16 to go (remember, I overshot a bit there when I missed the turn). I was in a lot of pain, and while I had plenty of energy to complete the course and my muscles weren't very tired at all, my knee was hurting more than ever. So with a heavy heart, I threw in the towel and got a ride for the last 16 miles.

I healed completely within a couple days -- my doctor tells me it was likely an issue with a tendon rubbing against the bones of the knee. With some modifications to my shoes and pedals I should be able to minimize it in the future.

I definitely plan on conquering the century the next time.