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The COVID Centuries

Barbara Wiggins
Like everyone, races were on the calendar and goals were set. Then came the pandemic and everything changed. So rather than ride alone or isolate myself to the trainer, I reached out to a couple of individuals from our traditional riding group and discussed the possibility of forming a small group, those that I knew the best and also knew they would not take unnecessary risks. They agreed and right after the restrictions were placed, the group of 3 was formed. After riding together for a couple of weeks, we began talking about events that we had hoped to do and one of them was the Coastal Cyclists Spring century in Mt Pleasant, SC. This is a great event that is put on every year by one of our local bike clubs. In thinking about this, I came up with the idea of doing our own, just the 3 of us, on the day the original event was planned. With everything else cancelled, we set off to do our first 100 mile ride together. While we attempted to ride the same route as the original ride, somewhere we ended up taking a wrong turn and added about 7 additional miles to the distance, even with a cue sheet.

After this ride, we decided to do another 100 the following weekend. After the first few weekends of doing 100 mile rides, word got out (thank you Strava) and I was approached by others desiring to join the group. Somehow through all this I became the defacto ride leader and route planner, which I didn’t mind, but it took some planning as the group size had to be limited to 6 riders due to local restrictions. As a result, riders had to confirm if they were riding or not. As time went on, I proposed another challenge. I came up with the idea of doing 3 centuries (1 each day) over Memorial Day weekend (The Memorial Day Triple). Initially everyone thought I was completely insane and I may have just been on the verge of losing my cycling group. However, they gave it some thought and realized there really wasn’t much else to do and so we took on the challenge together. On the first day we had 5 riders, the second day we had 4 and on the 3rd day, the hottest one, it was just the 3 of us, but we did it. Then we completed yet another century the following Saturday.


This trend of centuries continued for several weeks when a fellow rider suggested we do an “EPIC ride”. He was in the U.S. for work and was delayed going back to his home in Germany and threw the idea out as a final ride prior to his departure. Now his idea of an epic ride was 260 km (~162 miles). The 3 of us thought about it for a little while and decided to give it a try. The rest as they say is history. Challenge complete (162 miles). Thankfully, we had enlarged the group by then and several others rode 100 miles that day, which helped out a great deal. In the end, only 5 of us were crazy enough to complete the distance on a day with a heat index over 100 degrees. The trend of centuries continued until the restrictions began to lift and we needed to alter the standard Saturday 100 distance. In all, 22 centuries took place with a variety of riders and varying routes, paces, and temperatures. Interestingly enough, we were able to ride each of these in succession without any threat of extreme weather, which is very hard to believe, especially in Charleston.

Through it all, a number of individuals have joined our small group and have become consistent riders as we have continued to expand in size. While COVID often takes on a negative perspective, there are many positives for me that have come from this era of isolation. I have formed such great friendships with these people. Not only the 2 others that started in the initial group, but also those who have joined over the course of the year. I have taken the time as others have to really get to know one another and learn about careers, family, where they are from, etc. We have spent so much time together that our group rides have become more like a family gathering than just a bunch of folks riding together. For me, it has been more about these relationships and what I’ve learned from everyone else that has been the most enjoyable.