Normally, I ride the Seagull Century on the first weekend of October. It was my first century ride, back in 2006, and I ride it because of the experience, with so many riders in one place it becomes a critical mass of cycling culture. I enjoy the work break that Seagull weekend provides me. This year (2015) for the first time, the Seagull Century was cancelled – due to the approach of Hurricane Joaquin.
I know quite a few riders who don’t like the crowds of riders at the Seagull. Some find the course to be too flat. These are valid criticisms. In fact, the Seagull gets a lot of first time century riders, and a lot of charity riders end up riding the Seagull because it is a flat century, and that would suggest that it’s easier than a rolling course. I think it just provides a different set of problems, including fatigue due to unchanging riding position. Hills actually help sometimes. This ride tends to be crowded with riders who don’t know not to ride 4 across on the road, who don’t know how to draft others, or simply don’t understand that there is an art to riding in groups which they don’t know. This is all true.
Yet the ride has a kind of charm that other rides don’t have. Perhaps it’s the time the ride happens – late in the season. Perhaps it’s the sheer number of riders, and the enthusiasm that seems to hang in the air, or the feeling of celebration at the finish with the music and refreshments, and the feeling you get when you realize that as autumn marches on and events become less common, it feels like a celebration of all the miles ridden to get to that point.
Now I’m sitting at home, watching the rain fall.
I don’t need to ride the Seagull. I like to ride it. There are reasons not to ride the Seagull Century. There are reasons to try other rides that weekend, if only to avoid the crowds. All of the arguments against riding the Seagull are valid for a lot of experienced riders, but I think that for myself, none of them really matter. When the ride was cancelled, it left a little void. There will always be next year. For this year, I have to watch the rain fall and dream of dryer days!