Santa Fe Half Century

This past weekend was the Santa Fe Century (and Half Century) bike ride, part of Outside Bike & Brew weekend.  We could not have asked for more perfect conditions for the entire weekend of events!  Friday and Saturday featured bike exhibits, live music, a local beer festival, family events, and guided group rides, followed by the 31st annual Santa Fe Century ride on Sunday morning, along with an Enduro race in Glorieta.  Jaycob and I both rode the 50 mile course on Sunday.

Between running 5Ks, traveling, and working a lot (oh, and being pregnant!), I didn't train as much for the event as I did in previous years.  I did several short rides (15ish miles) to get used to my bike seat, and I took a few spin classes to get some more pedaling in, but my longest training ride was only 30 miles.  I also struggled with several flat tires this season.  On two occasions, I got a flat, spent a lot of time changing out the tube on the side of the road, only to have the tire go flat again minutes later.  This seriously limited my mileage (and increased my frustration with biking), and I contemplated not even riding the 50 this year, but I got new bike tires for my first Mother's Day and decided to give it a go!  I finished the ride last year and the year before, so I knew I'd be able to finish again, even if my time was slower.

Another obstacle I encountered a few days before the ride was dehydration.  It has been much hotter in Santa Fe this past week and I was overly busy.  I rode my bike and did a TRX class on Friday, followed by a 5K run on Saturday, but I just didn't feel well.  I have generally had more energy during my 2nd trimester of pregnancy compared to 1st trimester, but I started to wonder if I was overdoing it this weekend.  I felt tired and achy and seriously considered dropping out, but I hydrated a lot leading up to the ride and got a good night's sleep.  I felt much better Sunday morning and decided to continue!

The weather on Sunday morning was perfect.  It was a sunny day, not too hot in the morning, and with minimal wind.  (A complete 180 from a year ago!)  I didn't have to add or shed layers during the ride.  My goals this year were 1) to support a healthy pregnancy, and 2) to cross the finish line as long as I felt well.  I wore my heart rate monitor and followed my midwife's recommendations.  I practiced deep breathing and active recovery during the rest periods and downhills, ate lots of snacks, and drank even more water.

New tires for my first Mother's Day!  Getting ready to ride.

The 50 mile ride starts and ends at the hospital where I work.  The course heads out of town along Highway 14, mostly downhill in the beginning, past the San Marcos Cafe and State Penitentiary.  There are two big uphill climbs before taking a left turn and heading toward Galisteo, splitting away from the 100 mile riders.  

Heading out of town along Highway 14.  Sandia Mountains in the distance.

Enjoying the flat while it lasts!
The next section of the course is the prettiest.  The road to Galisteo has rolling hills and is much more green with trees and bushes along the road.  There are a few big uphills, then a winding downhill into the cute town of Galisteo and the first rest stop.  This is a fun place to take a break.  We saw some friends and enjoyed some good snacks and a quick stretch before continuing on.

Quick selfie on the way to Galisteo!  We met up some friends for a few miles.
Rest stop (and social hour) in Galisteo.
Enjoying some snacks (and socialization).  More than halfway done!
Still smiling!  (We're obviously not too exhausted yet...)
The next part of the ride, a steady uphill toward Highway 285, is what I consider to be the most boring part of the ride.  I never felt short of breath, but it was hard to control my heart rate during the long ascent (which I have found to be true throughout my pregnancy), and I found myself having to slow down a little and switch to an easier gear.  The course turns left again and we are faced with the Lamy hill, the biggest challenge of the 50 miler.  A lot of riders take breaks along the way up.  I was determined to get all the way up without stopping, so I just switched to an easy gear and kept pedaling and breathing.  The view from the top is lovely!

Over the Lamy hill, admiring the Sangre De Cristo Mountains in the distance on our way back to Santa Fe.

During the next stretch through El Dorado is where I started to get tired and sore.  We were about 35 miles into the ride, and everything hurt.  My neck and shoulders were aching, my low back was in pain, my arms were stiff from holding up my torso, my thighs and calves were cramping, not to mention the region in contact with the bike seat!  It was hot and I was already ready for another break.  The final rest stop was a few miles ahead at Spin Doc Bike Shop.  From there, it's just a few more rolling hills along Old Las Vegas Highway, then all downhill from El Gancho Spa back to the hospital!  As soon as I hit the downhill I said to myself, "We did it!"  I crossed the finish line in about 3 hours 50 minutes.  This is at least a half hour slower than my time last year, but I reminded myself that I was not racing, that speed was not a goal this year, and I probably still won in the pregnant division!

Finishers!  Ross Party of 3!
The Century/Half Century is always a fun event.  It's safe, well-organized, and brings bikers from the whole city together (as well as lots of tourists traveling here for the ride!).  Over 2,400 participants rode this year and there is always a wide range of abilities and competitiveness.  Some elite racers opt to partake in the Gran Fondo and Medio Fondo, the race portion of the event, while others are trucking along at 10 miles per hour.  I saw everything from sponsored race jerseys and elite racing groups, to everyday people in cargo pants and gardening gloves!  There's good camaraderie overall and everyone is supportive.  

Highlights of this year's ride:
1)  Riding with my hubby!
2)  Seeing familiar faces along the way.
3)  Amazing weather on this sunny spring day.
4)  Not having a time goal allowed me to focus on what's important and not dwell on speed.
5)  Admiring creative bike jerseys!  (Personal favorites: Cookie Monster, Dia de Los Muertos, and the "Old Men Who Get Fat in Winter" Racing Team.)

I'm thankful to have been healthy enough to participate in the Half Century again this year, despite being pregnant!  Things will be different next year, but I hope to at least be able to ride part of the course (with a baby buggy in tow!).


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