bridge, Delta region, California

Delta Century

I will never forget the Delta Century, the first 100-mile bike ride Ken and I ever went on. For the ride, I was fortunate enough to borrow a 5 year old Bianchi racing bike with Campagnolo components and 12 gears. Far from state-of-the-art, but better than what I had. Ken rode his trusty Motiv (Costco) mountain bike, which was heavier, but at least it had indexed shifting and he was used to it. I made some quick adjustments to the borrowed Bianchi right before the ride, including raising the seat. It would take me the entire ride to learn how to enter its darn toe clips and straps!

Off we went at 6:30 a.m. Ken Loo had a cyclocomputer and we started out at a blistering 18 mph. I was most exhuberant, for the first 5 miles or so. Then the Bianchi’s saddle was becoming, very literally, a pain in the ass! It was a “real” leather seat that is supposed to conform to your butt after a break-in period, but it felt like sand paper the entire ride. At least I had gotten some padded cycling shorts the day before.

After the first 20 miles we get to the first rest stop. Mmmm, fig bars and plenty of fruit. The food and service was great; the hosts of the ride (the Stockton Bicycle Club) were well prepared. I could feel my calves already tightening up a bit, so I stretch for a couple of minutes.

Ken and I have cooled off a bit and we hit the road after eating and chatting with the fellow cyclists for 20 minutes or so. The long rest stop probably adversely affected me, as I was hurting not much later.

“Hey, just to let you know we are only going 10 miles per hour,” Ken says. “Sorry, man, I’m already a bit sore,” I say repeatedly. Soon after we pass a cyclist on the side of the road. “Need some help?” we ask. “Nah, I need SAG,” he glumly says. Now Ken and I are thinking the same thing, but Ken says it first.

“Er, we’ve only gone 30 miles…there’s 70 miles to go…we’re going 10 miles per hour… are you sure you want to go on?” I briefly ponder SAG but never really seriously consider it. “Err, I’ll be all right,” I muster. But I was really hurting then!

But 10 miles later, the food started to kick in, and I was feeling much looser again. Up to that point, the ride had been entirely flat, but at around 40 miles into the ride some hills became in view.

Not large ones, but for a person who never rode hills before, they were challenging all right. Enough that I even had to walk up a couple. Ken patiently pedaled in his granny gear, and offered moral support.

The rest of the ride was very relaxing, with cool Delta breezes underneath the bright, cloudless sky, and we were having a great time. At around 65 miles or so we even boarded a ferry to get across one of the many Delta waterways. We were going around 14 mph, and was having the time of our life.

We finished the ride at 4:30 p.m., meaning that the ride took us 10 hours. 2.5 hours of that were spent at rest stops, and boy were we proud to finish. We already planned on doing the ride the next year. For good measure, we purchased souvenir 1993 Delta Century bottles for a buck each. Today [1996] my bottle is old and scarred, but it remains the bottle of choice on every long ride I go on.

Ride Data

  • 101 mi.
  • Average moving speed: <12 mph time spent at rest stops: ~2.5 hrs
  • 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. = 10 hrs
  • Terrain: Flattest century in U.S., but with winds
bridge, Delta region, California
A bridge in the Delta region of California.