Race report: Black Bear 100 Mile Bicycle Tour

It doesn’t get much better than flying down hills at 31 miles per hour, or pushing up a mile-long hill through the burn of effort.

On Sunday, July 26, I set off on my second 100-mile bike tour, the Black Bear 100 Mile Bicycle Tour from Grayling to Oscoda, Mich. My dad and sister’s boyfriend were with me on their first century. It was an incredible experience to share that with them.

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The course, which winds along the Au Sable River, is hilly, beautiful and tough. I loved every second of it.

It feels tough to give a blow-by-blow of the day, so I’ll share my favorite moments:

-The thrill of setting out on an adventure with two of my favorite people.

-Making friends with fellow cyclists Phil and Lisa, who we rode with the entire way.

-The smell of the ferns and pines of Northern Michigan.

-Getting to those first big climbs and cranking up the hills. I LOVE HILLS.

-Rolling into the first aid station at 27 miles and feeling fresh as a daisy.

Rolling along on the Black Bear 100.
Rolling along on the Black Bear 100.
-Flying down the backside of those hills at nearly 31 miles an hour.

-Watermelon at the aid stations. Especially since it was 85+ degrees.

-Putting my hands down the front of my shorts to apply more chamois cream between a group of cyclists and the busy road. Hey, gotta do what you gotta do. Chafing is the worst.

-Climbing the biggest hill on the whole course at 7 miles an hour, swearing the whole way. Last year, I climbed it at 4 miles an hour.

-Cheering on Dad and John as they made it up that damn hill.

-The breathtaking view of the Au Sable at the top of that damn hill.

-The final big hill at Five Channels Dam, and the final turn onto River Road, one of my favorite roads in Michigan.

-Rocking out to Kiss and AC/DC while leading our little peloton with Dad.

-Riding past landmarks on River Road such as Iargo Springs, Lumberman’s Monument, the River Road Scenic Overlook, Old Orchard Park, the Dam Store and Whirlpool.

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-Screaming down the last big hill at 29 miles an hour.

-Seeing my mom and sister cheering for us as we rolled into the finish.

-How completely and utterly strong I felt. I did not have a dark moment on that course. I was raring for more.

-Drinking a coke and beer at the finish line. And eating all the food.

-A well-earned swim in the Au Sable River.

I can’t wait for next year.

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