Santa Fe Century Ride (& Tour de Spas)Richard & Pam Oliver
Over 2,700 riders registered for this event, which included 5 ride options: a 100 mile loop, a 50 mile loop, and out-and-back rides of 25, 50 or 75 miles. It was pay as you go, costing just $13 for the 25 and 50 mile options, and pro-rated up to $21 for the whole enchilada. Depending on your planned distance, one could start anytime between 6:30 and 8:30 am. With no cap on the number of riders, this large start window allowed riders to be safely spaced out. Additionally, being held on a Sunday morning, local traffic was fairly light throughout the ride.
These entry fees also provided a commemorative T-shirt and water bottle, and for an extra $5 you could get a southwest breakfast with traditional New Mexico blue corn and roasted pinon nut pancakes with maple syrup and sausage. For an additional $6, a lunch was thrown in of chili con carne with cornbread, pasta with marinara sauce, plus a salad and double-fudge brownies.
Sponsors of this century ride included 3 hotels with special reduced room rates. We arrived on Saturday, to allow time to reconnoiter the route, and stayed at the Inn at Santa Fe, in a deluxe room for $85 (normally $129), and also took advantage of the free manager's reception and expansive hot breakfast.
The ride is advertised has "moderately" difficult, as there are no mountain passes, and consists primarily of the rolling hills and flatlands south of Santa Fe. The total elevation gain for the full ride is 4,400 feet. Do note however, that at 7,199 feet, Santa Fe is higher than Colorado Springs, and you could see that some of the lowlander folks were having a harder time. For the full century riders, there was one designated "heart break hill" that the locals told us often caused quite a few dismounts and walks. One stretch of the route put you on I-25 for about 6 miles, but we followed the local folks who rode a parallel road to avoid the big rigs and fast-movers.
The ride was well supported with sag wagons, and a total of 6 rest stops with a variety of healthy snacks and drinks. Besides support from the highway patrol and county sheriffs, the National Guard provided medics and Humvee ambulance support in case of possible major spills. Fortunately, as noted in Monday's post-ride newspaper article, there were no spills reported, but there were "wicked winds" throughout most of the ride. Particularly tricky were the 25-30 mph gusty crosswind legs which definitely required two steady hands on the steering yoke.
This year, the Santa Fe ride was a week before the Buena Vista Bike Festival, which provided an excellent tune-up opportunity for our club's major ride the following Saturday. The SF Century was a moderately challenging and very enjoyable experience, although, alas, there was no post-ride party in the park with beer and band, which is an added draw for BVBF.