Little did I know that I'd been spoiled on my first 2 century rides by a lack of stop signs and traffic lights. Tour de Palm Springs started in downtown P.S. with hundreds (over 1000?) riders setting out to do the 100 miles. With so many riders they sent groups off at 2 min intervals to prevent a giant log jam. My pack rode a whole 200 yds before we had to stop at our first traffic signal! It got better from there as we headed out of town and into the desert where the windmill energy farms are. This meant riding into a wind or a cross-wind but at least there were no stop lights. My heart rate monitor refused to work properly for at least the first 1/2 hour. I don't know if it was all the people or it just went wonky but I know I didn't peak at 230 beats per minute!
The first 50 miles, once out of P.S. proper, was rural desert, much like my first 2 rides in Borrego and Ocotillo. There were many riders and not many turns so I put my course directions away so I wouldn't lose them in the wind. Just after mile 50 is a rest stop. From there the ride continues into the surrounding cities: Coachella, La Quinta, etc. I was riding behind a group of 8 riders when I realized there was no one behind me nor were we passing anyone from the ride. I had the nagging suspicion that they had missed a turn. I let them go as I consulted the directions. I was right but decided to continue on as it appeared I would intersect the street I need to turn on. I found it and was back on track. (It turned out that I shortened my "Tour" by a little less than a mile - I only went 99.1.)
From there on I followed my copy of the directions without incident. I actually helped some other riders go the right way. There were many turns and many stops. Compared to the first half, this part of the course was very flat. Eventually the 25 mile and 56 mile riders merged with the 100 milers. Riding along with these folks made me realize more clearly that, while I may not be a very good cyclist, I have a drive to continue to push to the finish. For some riders that sort of makes me a jerk. But I am respectful and I try hard to give them plenty of room.
My nutrition was fine. I took a protein/carb paste and drink, plus 1 bottle of electrolyte water, and salt stick pills. I learned NOT to take sports drink at the aid stations as there's no way of knowing if they mixed it up right. The bottle I filled up was horrible.
5:45:50 - 99.1 miles (my bike computer)
Speed max 40.3 / ave 18.1 mph (includes stops at lights and ~9 min. at aid stations)
50 mile split 2:40
"1/2 way" Aid Station 51.8 miles, 2:46:04, Speed ave 18.8
2nd "1/2" split 2:54:13, 47.2 miles, HR142/127, Speed ave 17.4 (many stop lights)
0 - 1:00 HR messed up
1:00 - 2:10 HR145/131
2:10 - 3:15 HR138/125
3:15 - 5:45 HR143/127