My First Bike Event! — SMECO 75-miler

Yesterday I did something new. I participated in my first organized bike event! You all know how much I’m into running– when Nick asked me to do the SMECO 75-mile bike ride with him, I was kind of iffy. I don’t own a road bike. I’ve never even been on a road bike. I have this cute little Fuji hybrid. Nick did a a great job of convincing me that we could do it on our non-road bikes– and that we would look pretty badass doing it. He does a lot of things I want to do, so I decided to do this for him. 

Nick has been excited about the SMECO 75 since before we signed up. But once we were signed up and official we started adding long bike rides to our weekend lineup. Our longest training ride was 72-ish miles. I wanted to cry by the end because of how much my butt hurt. I was not eager to do more rides of that distance. But again, I wanted to be excited for Nick because this was something he really wanted to do.

The week leading up to the ride was stormy and raining The forecast was showing a chance of thunderstorms for Saturday as well. I tried not to think about the potential of riding through heavy rain. 

Saturday morning we arrived at the SMECO headquarters in Hughesville, MD. There was already quite a few people bustling around. Excitement was is the air.

We went inside to check in and pick up our packets. I was impressed by the organization. Women on one side, men on the other. And tons of volunteers walking around answering questions. We received a drawstring race bag filled with a pretty snazzy shirt, a water bottle, and a few other promo items. 

I guess I can feel like a real Marylander now!

Unlike a running race, there was no official start. The only requirement was that 75-mile riders begin no later than 10 am in order to finish by the 4:30 pm cutoff. The Bike Doctor of Waldorf was there for any last minute tune-ups. I ended up asking him to check out my rear brakes because they’ve been a little sticky. He was so nice and knowledgeable, and had my bike back to me within a few minutes ready to go!

At about 7:15 am Nick and I began our adventure. There was one spot within the first few miles that was slightly confusing, but overall the course was extremely well marked. I was impressed. The first 16 miles flew by with the exception of one pretty steep hill during mile 15. Before I knew it we were pulling into the first rest stop. As we entered the parking lot, I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped a little and I said “wow” out loud. I didn’t really know what to expect. There were cyclists and bikes everywhere. And food– lots of food. Anything and everything you could want for an endurance event. I was blown away by the support. The first rest stop was shared by all three distance events (29, 50, and 75 miles). I forgot to pause Map My Run right away, so mile 16 time is a little off, but below is a summary of the first section of the ride. Overall, I am very happy with how it went. At the rest stop I grabbed some orange slices and half a nutella sandwich (omg delicious)– then we were off again!

1.0 mi 12.8 mph 00:04:38
2.0 mi 14.0 mph 00:04:15
3.0 mi 15.0 mph 00:03:58
4.0 mi 12.0 mph 00:04:58
5.0 mi 14.6 mph 00:04:04
6.0 mi 15.5 mph 00:03:50
7.0 mi 14.7 mph 00:04:03
8.0 mi 15.5 mph 00:03:49
9.0 mi 16.1 mph 00:03:43
10.0 mi 15.5 mph 00:03:49
11.0 mi 14.7 mph 00:04:03
12.0 mi 15.6 mph 00:03:48
13.0 mi 18.7 mph 00:03:11
14.0 mi 13.6 mph 00:04:23
15.0 mi 14.5 mph 00:04:07
16.0 mi 10.4 mph 00:05:42

The next rest stop was located around mile 38 down by Colton’s Point and the Potomac River Museum. I love that the overall distance was broken up by nice bite-sized sections of the course. This was the longest distance between rest stops at 22-ish miles. This part of the course was the best. There was about a 6-mile stretch on Budds Creek Road where the road was newly paved. Oh my goodness were we able to fly! Nick also let me draft him 😉 Overall, this 22-mile section of the course was pretty downhill. The biggest climb was on Budds Creek Road and the new paving made it pretty reasonable. There was a short section as you were getting close to Colton’s that was “loose gavel”– yuck. It was slightly miserable for us on our hybrid/mountain bikes, I can’t imagine having been on a road bike. The second rest stop touted itself as the best rest stop, with a big sign welcoming runners and volunteers handing out little gifts. This rest stop also had the best food. Again, I ate another half of a nutella sandwich. I also had a chocolate milk, granola bar, and some fruit. There was so much to choose from. This rest stop had some games set up for cyclists to take a break and relax. It was a pretty fun rest stop 🙂 A summary of mile 17 – 39 is below. There were some slower miles, but also some fast miles– hello 19 mph average! And again, someone forgot to pause the app. Oops 🙂 

17.0 mi 10.4 mph 00:05:43
18.0 mi 15.9 mph 00:03:46
19.0 mi 14.8 mph 00:04:01
20.0 mi 15.1 mph 00:03:56
21.0 mi 12.3 mph 00:04:48
22.0 mi 15.4 mph 00:03:52
23.0 mi 17.0 mph 00:03:31
24.0 mi 16.9 mph 00:03:29
25.0 mi 19.0 mph 00:03:08
26.0 mi 12.3 mph 00:04:51
27.0 mi 13.3 mph 00:04:28
28.0 mi 15.5 mph 00:03:51
29.0 mi 16.0 mph 00:03:42
30.0 mi 14.5 mph 00:04:06
31.0 mi 12.2 mph 00:04:52
32.0 mi 14.5 mph 00:04:07
33.0 mi 14.6 mph 00:04:04
34.0 mi 14.5 mph 00:04:06
35.0 mi 15.8 mph 00:03:46
36.0 mi 15.6 mph 00:03:48
37.0 mi 15.0 mph 00:03:59
38.0 mi 14.9 mph 00:03:59
39.0 mi 5.1 mph 00:11:40

At this point we had been riding for 2 hours 40 minutes. Both our butts were starting to get sore from our seats. Like we did in our training rides, we swapped bikes for a bit. We decided we would switch between rest stops 2 and 3. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and the different pressure points felt better for a few miles, but once we hit the worst hills of the course I was grumpy that I was on Nick’s mountain bike. His bike is very nice and rides well, but mine is much much lighter on the hills. I was really wanting my bike back about half way through this section. The third rest stop was located around mile 54– 16-ish miles from the second stop. Towards the end of this section of the course you end up on the Three Notch Trail. Wow, was it nice. I had run on it once, but never biked. I was starting to get tired by the time we hit the third rest stop. Overall I was pedaling way faster than normal, and I was starting to feel the burn in my legs. It was also starting to get warm out and you could feel the heat radiating off the asphalt road. Speaking of the road– I was very satisfied by the roads that were chosen for this event. There was very little traffic on any of them, and the traffic that was encountered was very respectful of the cyclists on the road. So finally we get to the rest stop. I eat another half nutella sandwich– I’m pretty sure I was eating my calories back as fast as I was burning them! It felt good to rest my butt for a few minutes and switch back to my bike. A summary of mile 40 – 55 is below. You can see from my times that this was the hardest section of the course. 

40.0 mi 14.6 mph 00:04:06
41.0 mi 14.3 mph 00:04:11
42.0 mi 14.1 mph 00:04:11
43.0 mi 14.9 mph 00:04:01
44.0 mi 15.0 mph 00:03:58
45.0 mi 14.8 mph 00:04:01
46.0 mi 11.7 mph 00:05:06
47.0 mi 14.5 mph 00:04:07
48.0 mi 13.2 mph 00:04:30
49.0 mi 8.4 mph 00:07:01
50.0 mi 12.6 mph 00:04:45
51.0 mi 12.0 mph 00:04:56
52.0 mi 9.9 mph 00:06:01
53.0 mi 11.8 mph 00:05:04
54.0 mi 12.8 mph 00:04:39
55.0 mi 9.4 mph 00:06:23

Rest stop 4 was just 10 miles away! We’re getting close to the end. There was a nice section on the Three Notch Trail again. This part of the course was actually pretty uneventful. I didn’t get my speed back from the first 2 sections, but overall the times weren’t terrible. It was during this part of the course that we met back up with the 50-mile riders. Nick told me he thought this would happen, but I didn’t believe him. I thought for sure we’d be coming in last with our non-road bikes. We ended up passing a few cyclists on this section. And were yoyo-ing with a cyclists I nicknamed “Old Bay” because of his Old Bay bike jersey 🙂 We reached the final rest stop in 4 hours and 5 minutes. I did not eat a nutella sandwich during this stop 😉 but I drank at least 5 cups of water. I was carrying a Gatorade/water mix in my CamelBak, but was so thirsty for just plain water. We noticed that the sky was starting to get a little bit gray. Luckily we had under 10 miles remaining until we were back at the finish area. A summary of miles 56 – 65 is below. 

56.0 mi 12.6 mph 00:04:44
57.0 mi 13.1 mph 00:04:32
58.0 mi 12.9 mph 00:04:36
59.0 mi 14.0 mph 00:04:14
60.0 mi 14.7 mph 00:04:04
61.0 mi 14.1 mph 00:04:14
62.0 mi 13.9 mph 00:04:16
63.0 mi 12.8 mph 00:04:39
64.0 mi 13.9 mph 00:04:18
65.0 mi 12.2 mph 00:04:53
At this point the end is within sight. Not literally, but you can feel it. I was starting to get kind of excited. I was surprised by how much fun I was actually having and I was feeling good overall. The last miles really did fly by. We ended up passing a lot of people. I attribute that to the endurance I’ve gained from running. We were 2 or 3 miles from the finish and Old Bay and a lady in purple were ahead of us. The lady in purple was fast and steady, but I kept thinking “Old Bay, you’re toast!”. I eventually said to Nick, “Let’s catch him!” and we did– woo woo! He wanted to catch lady in purple too, but I thought “no way, she’s moving too fast” But! Then we encountered a hill during our final 1.5-ish miles. Now was the time. I dropped my gears down and was able to pick up my pace. I passed lady in purple– on a hill nonetheless! Wow 🙂 Definitely a proud moment. With 1 mile remaining we kicked it in. Nick was surprised that I wanted to, but I like to think that I have a pretty good kick when running– might as well try my best when cycling too. A summary of miles 66 – 75 is below.

66.0 mi 10.5 mph 00:05:39
67.0 mi 13.7 mph 00:04:19
68.0 mi 14.2 mph 00:04:12
69.0 mi 15.3 mph 00:03:52
70.0 mi 16.8 mph 00:03:33
71.0 mi 11.2 mph 00:05:20
72.0 mi 13.5 mph 00:04:25
73.0 mi 15.2 mph 00:03:54
74.0 mi 14.3 mph 00:04:10
75.0 mi 15.5 mph 00:03:51
75.7 mi 14.2 mph 00:02:45

We crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 36 minutes! I am so proud of that time– we weren’t the last to finish and I had fun. 

And just as we’re putting our bikes on the car it started to rain. We grabbed our finish line food– delicious subs, chips, cookies and drinks, then headed home. We weren’t even in the car 5 minutes when it started to downpour. We were soo lucky with the weather. 

SMECO put on a truly top notch event. I was thoroughly impressed with the organization, the marking of the course, the rest stops, the food, the volunteers. This is definitely an event I will be returning to in the future. 

So tell me– did anyone else experience any new adventures this weekend? I would love to hear about them 🙂 Feel free to leave me a comment!


elevation chart

course map

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