The Last Century of the Year

Hello everyone, it’s good to be able to write you all after my last century. My dad and I signed up for the Gran Fondo in Morristown NJ which took place yesterday on September 8th, 2013. It was an early morning, I was up at 4:45 and already making oatmeal by 5:00 to start my dad. By the time we hit the road, the sun was just starting to creep up over the hills. The ride started at 7:15, and we were a little late in arriving so we double timed it off the starting line and wound our way through the other cyclists who were doing shorter routes. From then on it turned into as beautiful a day for cycling as anyone could hope for. The ride itself was 106 miles, with plenty of rolling hills and steep descents that brought me all the way up to 34 miles per hour!

All in all, it was not as bad as I feared it would be, two months off the bike and I still found that I had the strength to give it one last good push on those last few miles. There was some muscle tightness around halfway through the ride, but it was nothing compared to the pain my dad felt in his lower back at the 60-mile mark. I could tell that with every pedal stroke he was feeling more and more pain as he grew quiet with a set line of determination across his jaw. Overall it took us nine hours to complete the century ride, and although we didn’t break any records, in true Wagner fashion we refused to give up.

It was the first time we had been involved in an organized ride since my dad and I had gone on our timed century ride all the way back in 2012, when my dad and I were racing against the clock to qualify for our America By Bicycle (ABB) tour. Back in December we were in the first stages of our training, and we had a 5-hour window to complete our ride in order to be accepted into the ABB program. Had it not been for the forgiving flatlands of the Florida landscape, I doubt we would have completed the necessary ride within the required time limitation.

This time around there was a lot less pressure and much more enjoyment in the ride itself. Despite the long hours in the saddle on Sunday, the fact that I was able to share in the experience with my dad once again brought back all of the fond memories of our ride together across this great country. Coasting down the steep hills and spinning my way back to the top reminded me of why I had agreed to ride with him in the first place. There is a freedom on the bike that I have searched for my whole life, a clarify of mind in the simple action of just focusing on the road ahead that gives me a sense of indescribable joy. It’s like I’m a little kid again, learning how to ride my bike on my training wheels as I pedal up and down my driveway. 

One of the best things about riding in these organized events is that you are instantly surrounded by people who share the same passion for something that you do. Why else would you force yourself through nine hours of bike riding, if not for the unconditional love for the activity itself? My dad and I proudly wore our America By Bicycle jerseys during the whole ride.

Along the route I chatted with several of the other cyclists who asked me about my experiences on the road from California to Massachusetts. Some of them had even followed my blog during my trip! They were all friendly people, simply enjoying the warm weather and the simple pleasure of sharing the road with their fellow bicycle enthusiasts.

As the summer weeks begin to wind down and the cool grip of Fall settles on the road, I will look back fondly on those thousands of miles my father and I traveled together. I will never forget that although the trip itself is over, the adventure never really ends. My father and I are always learning new things, there is still so much of the bike ride that I have not even assessed yet despite the fact we finished three months ago. I owe so much of who I have become to the experience my father and I went through. Above all else though, I have discovered a love for cycling that I will be able to take with me for the rest of my life.

Danielle Rivenbark