Well, not an actual Century. Not as in a 100 mile ride. Or even, come to that, a 100km ride. But this is the first week in which I've managed over 100 miles during the week - 113, to be precise.
The week started with a shock when I got my first proper training plan from John Percy. Training every day! Well, he said it wasn't prescriptive - although I think there was an implied 'yet' - but it was certainly going to be a stretch. I would be OK for Monday and Tuesday; Wednesday and Thursday I'd have to substitute a gym session for a ride. Friday I was planning to ride to the office (in Battersea) and get the train back and then a Palmer Park Velo club run and a mountain bike ride on Sunday.
The second shock was when I got on the bike on Monday evening. I think the long ride on Friday took more out of me than I had thought. I struggled to do more than half an hour of my scheduled 1 hour turbo trainer session. And the single leg pedalling drills hurt like hell.
Tuesday was a bit better. I rode to Palmer Park to try to get at least an hour and a half in on the track. I was supposed to be keeping my heart rate low - but not ridiculously so - and it was a lovely, still night.
Except that by the time I got there it was raining and, before too long, it was pouring. Adrian and I were the only two riders with mudgaurds (I'd put the SKS Race Blades on the Trek), so naturally we sat at the back of the string... With all the sand from the atheltics pits it was like being gritblasted, so we peeled off and rode around chatting until we were too wet to carry on. An hour gone, rather than the planned two.
Wednesday morning I arrived at the hotel (in Bracknell, of all places) to run a training course with gym gear for two sessions. Amazingly, given that it's a relatively new hotel, there was no gym, so that went for a burton.
So, finally, Friday came around. I set off at 5.30 with the Trek lit up like a Christmas tree - one steady and one flashing front light and a similar set up at the rear. I had been planning to use the excellent TfL London cycling maps I picked up at Cycle 2005 last week to plan a safe, enjoyable route, but the London Cycling Campaign stand had run out of Map 9 - which was the central portion of my route. I'd ordered a copy from their website but it hadn't arrived, so I headed off down the A4.
The weather was lovely when I left - cool, but not cold and very still. The two Cateye LED lights did a surprisingly good job of lighting up the country roads between my house and the A4 and it was almost half an hour in before I was passed by the first truck of the morning.
By Taplow it was starting to spit with rain, so I stopped and put on my rain jacket. As luck would have it, it did no more than spit for nearly an hour. I crawled through the traffic lights on the Bath Road in Slough and, heading from Slough to Colnbrook it started to rain in earnest. It wouldn't stop until long after I'd arrived at the office, but it's OK if you're dressed for it and the wind's not too strong.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. The A4 does get a bit hairy around about Brentford but there's a cycle path from there most of the way to Chiswick - pretty much the length of the M4 elevated section. It's the only cycle path I used for the whole journey, but I was glad of it.
The heaviest of the rain came down between the Chiswick roundabout and the Hammersmith flyover, but it was over as quickly as it started and I rolled up to the front door of the office just under 3 hours after I set out.
Four hours later I was back out on the road, heading for home. I followed the same route back as far as Colnbrook. It was dry but the Westerley wind made it considerably less pleasant then the outbound journey. At Colnbrook I decided to abandon the A4 and head for Datchet and Windsor and follow the back roads. What I hadn't counted on was the ride through Windsor Great Park where the head wind and the slight incline at one point reduced my headway to a pedestrian 11mph. And then the road started to rise...
Got there in the end, though. 38 miles out, 42 back and 6 and a quarters hours in total in the saddle. 120 miles for the week. It's begun.