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Doug's Century Challenge: 65 for 65

Doug's Century Challenge: 65 for 65

This is an incomprehensible story about an extraordinary road cyclist on the 1A coast. We can’t wait to tell you his story, but first, indulge us for a moment to set the stage.

Think back to youthful days of bliss, riding your new holiday Huffy with handlebar tassels blowing in the wind, head up high with pride, wishing your gluteus maximus felt as good as your ego. Fast forward a decade or two (or four) and ponder one of the great cycling mysteries since the inception of two wheels – We have electronic shifting, bikes that weigh 12 pounds, cable-free shifting and braking, and yet, bike seats remain uncomfortable after 200 years.

It’s not surprising, after all, since the average “saddle” (that’s seat in cyclish) for a road bike is approximately 1” wide at the nose, 5” wide at the midpoint for a millisecond, 9” in length, square footage of about .19, cushy as a brick, and not much different than sitting on a box of chicken broth. I suppose it could be beef broth, vegetable broth, bone broth, miso ginger broth, or chicken broth, but either way, the box is the equivalent size and shape of a bike seat. And please, “saddle”… That makes the apparatus sound soft, plush and butt hugging.

Thinking about the discomfort of a saddle makes us question why we see cyclists on Strava cranking out 35, 45, or 50 miles as a quicky before work. Perhaps an even more perplexing question is why someone would double up the fun and ride a century (that’s 100 miles in cyclish). The ultimate question, however, is why anyone would do more than one century in year, let alone a lifetime.

We found the answer to this unthinkable question and his name is Doug Burritt, 1A cycling warrior and soon to be coastal legend. A local fine chocolate sales representative, Doug gets excited about goals and couldn’t resist the sweet temptation of a cycling milestone for his sixty-fifth birthday. Most cyclists would have rejoiced with the notion of 65 miles on the 65th. Or 65 rides during the summer of the 65th. Or have a barbeque with 65 cycling friends. Doug, on the other hand, thought 65 centuries over the span of his 65th birthday year sounded like a lot of fun. For those still dreaming of their first century, let us remind you that it can take anywhere from 6 to 7 hours. Picture yourself sitting on that box of chicken broth for 6 hours?! Okay, we’ll let you get off the broth every 2 hours for a sip of coffee and a bagel. And if you are also dreaming of 65 centuries this year, that’s roughly 400 to 450 hours on the box of chicken broth.

Butt let’s get back to Doug (yes, that typo was a goal for this story). On August 2, 2022, Doug set out on his quest of 65 centuries for his 65th. At 12:01 am (midnight!!), the first day of his 64th year, Doug rolled the Specialized SL7 down the driveway and took off into the night. No, the mission for the midnight start wasn’t about avoiding summer traffic, returning in time for a zoom call, or meeting the cable guy between 8 am and noon (love those). Doug, being the quintessential goal-guy, simply wanted his new quest to be the first thing he did that day. Lit up like a Christmas tree, he started off with a full moon to guide him, ascended Mount Agamenticus just in time for sunrise, and then continued for another 90 miles on the proverbial chicken broth box. From the moment he descended Mt. A in the rising sun, Doug never looked back.

For the next 12 months, Doug’s Century Challenge rolled on through heatwaves and chilly winter days, dry roads and rainfall, solo pursuits and accompanied rides, 100 and 200-mile routes. Seldom did he pull into the garage after a ride with 101 miles on the odometer. More often than not Doug wanted to “bank” miles in case of an unseen speed bump, riding anywhere from 125 to 135 miles. When asked about this “rose” and “thorn” rides, Doug had a little glow in his eye. If you’re a cyclist, you know “rain” is a four-letter word, along with “grit,” “shit,” “dirt,” and “shop” (i.e., “Off I go to have my bike cleaned at the shop”). Doug, on the other hand, would tell you his most memorable century was in a deluge. That’s right, it was a pleasant Sunday. No threatening weather in the forecast. The goal was still looming. Doug picked out the perfect “kit” (that’s outfit in cyclish), downed a pop tart (not really, I think), and started pedaling. When he was just far enough away from home, the downpour came out of nowhere. You know the feeling, right? You turn around in that instance, head home, and make new plans that probably involve indoor activities such as online shopping and making a Baked Alaska. On the contrary, Cyclist Burritt rode on through the rain eventually returning home after 40 miles, changed his outfit, rode another 30 plus miles, circled back home again, changed his outfit, and rode another 30 plus miles. We’re thinking this may be the classic ride-rain-rekit-repeat thing. Suffice to say, we couldn’t wait to hear about the miserable ride(s).

After 65 centuries you can imagine there is a pinata full of twists, turns, and lifelong memories. Doug had the pleasure of two centuries in Majorca, Spain (yes, please). New England winters dictated five indoor centuries on a trainer (#ratherwatchpaintdry). As we heard, one century with three outfit changes (eat your heart out Lady Gaga). At least half of the centuries incorporated scenic 1A (you saw that coming). Three rides were over 200 miles in length (Broth box didn’t survive those). One culminated with potluck (who knows what that means these days). But our personal favorite was Doug’s vision of completing a century by utilizing all 14 bicycles in his collection. Comprised of 14 “laps,” Doug returning home after each lap to switch bikes and carry on. He rode a vintage road bike, mountain bike, gravel bike, e-bike, a quiver of S-Works SL7s, and a Julian Alaphilipe special edition Tarmac SL7. Thankfully he was never inspired to dabble with a unicycle.

We did manage to extract one unanticipated endurance tip from the pinata of century tales. On one particular century, Doug unfortunately hit the “wall” at the 85-mile mark. In the midst of wondering if he could make it all the way, Doug remembered some sage advice from an old triathlete friend: Pull into the nearest Cumby’s and buy yourself a classic Coca-Cola. We are happy to report that he completed the century and made it in record time.

Our sincerest congratulations to Doug Burritt for accomplishing his Century Challenge by conquering 65 hundred-mile rides in honor of his 65th birthday. Doug is truly a 1A Coastal Legend, celebrating the opportunity to play outdoors on 1A and along the local coastline. If you want to meet the local legend, or tag along for a ride of human proportions, Doug leads casual Wednesday evening rides at Riverside Cycles in Newburyport. Of course, he rides his bike 30 miles to get there and then another 30 miles afterward to return home. You can also follow him on Instagram at @wishiwas30. Happy Birthday Doug. Go get some rest.


A note about 1A and the 1A brand. We hope all cyclists, local or not, will join the "1A Cycling Club" on Strava. We're really not a "club" per say, just a community of like-minded people who enjoy cycling. Follow 1A Cycling on Strava and share your biking adventures.


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