As I sit down to type this, the air outside is a brisk 53 degrees, and it will be in the low forties by the time I walk out the door for work tomorrow. Cooler air and shorter days herald the coming of fall, and I am feeling kinda bummed that I don’t have many more days of cycling left. In fact, I had my last major bike event a couple of weeks ago riding in the Door County Century.
The Door County Century celebrated its 35th anniversary this year, and is one of the most popular century rides in Wisconsin. For good reason – they are well-organized, the routes wind thru some of the most beautiful countryside in Northeast Wisconsin, and the rest stops are well stocked with yummy delicious go-go fuel. And you know me – it’s all about the food.
For those of you who are not crazy cyclists, a century is a 100 mile bike ride. Most organized centuries are recreational and offer shorter routes in addition to the full 100 mile route. This year, the DCC also had options of 28, 50, and 70. Last year Kay and I did the full century. It was really a lot of fun, but it was also very hilly and the final 30 miles were pretty tough. “Pretty tough” meaning we were DYING and every time we saw another hill coming up we thought we were going to have a nervous breakdown.
Neither one of us felt like we had ridden enough this year to tackle those upper peninsula miles where the highest elevations await the unwary, so we opted for 70 this year. Yes, we wimped out. Totally. But we are all good with that, because 70 was the Golden Ticket.
First of all, look at this map. Check out those elevations between the yellow stars on the elevation map (in the boxed in area of the physical map) – all residing in the 100 mile route. That’s a whole lotta pain right there. A Polygon of Pain.
Whereas the 70 mile route is all rainbows and unicorns, pretzels and cheese, donuts and muffins, pickles and cheesecurds… The only thing we had to give up was strawberry shortcake at the Sister Bay rest stop. That was almost a deal breaker until we realized we would actually finish this year before the beer ran out. Although ironically, we didn’t even use our beer tickets, because we knew we had to drive home yet. See? I, too, can be a responsible adult.
I think my favorite part of this years ride was the Cave Point rest stop. The sky was the bluest of blues and the grass was the greenest of greens. Warm sun, a light breeze, the waves crashing below on the rocks, ham sandwiches…did I mention that I ride for food? Kay and I stretched out in the sun for a while, but we were starting to feel a little nappish so figured we better get going. It was truly hard to leave.
The next 15 miles roll thru lush forest and farm land, with enough variety to help wear off that ham sandwich and granola bar you just ate. You can keep a fairly decent pace here, but oddly there is a rest stop only 6 miles from the finish. You may be tempted to pass this one by, but you will miss cheesecurds and pickles if you do. Oh yeah, there’s some lighthouse or something that’s supposed to have historical value or whatever. Blah, blah, blah. I never made it past the curd table. And I know some of you are wondering about the pickles. Like, why are there pickles at a rest stop, which is kind of what I thought too, but man – when your body is sodium deprived – that will be the best pickle you have ever eaten.
Wether you ride the 100, 70 or 50, the last 5 miles of this ride last an eternity, and you will really appreciate those cheese curds and pickles from that last stop. It doesn’t help that there is one last beastly hill in the home stretch. Seriously, who plans a route where they stick a giant hill in the last mile? Kinda makes you want to smack someone with your water bottle, but then your turning the corner into the fair grounds and you can hear the music and smell the garlic bread, and you know there is a piece of Door County cherry pie with your name on it. And beer. Which you may or may not drink, depending on your responsibility ratio. I know, you can’t all be me – such perfection is truly hard to maintain. I struggle but I do it for you little people.
All kidding aside: If you enjoy organized rides, put the Door County Century on your bucket list. It’s offering of beauty, challenge, camaraderie, and of course great food, make this ride worth your time and cash. Hope to see you there next year!