Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Having fun and adding miles to a 100 miler!

TOUR TIME! No no, I'm not talking about THAT Tour today...

First World problems we mortals didn't have to worry about on Saturday
100 106 miles in the books. Saturday wasn't just the first day of Le Tour de France, it was also the Tour de Rocky Top (put on by Race Day Events) for us weekend warriors.

There I am! In the helmet on the bike!
Our motley crew met up a little before the start and we made our way towards the front of the start line. Let me be clear in saying that of all the racing/riding I have ever done (and yes, this includes Criterium 5 races) the first 10-20 miles of a charity/fun ride are the most dangerous cycling you will ever do. You just have so many people of varying skill levels riding very close together until the hills and TITS (that's time in the saddle for you pervs) breaks things up into more reasonable groups. One fellow crossed wheels with the rider in front of him fairly early and had to take a trip to the hospital over it, and one of my friends (ahead of us) was descending the very technical (and fast) descent down "the wall" later in the day and had another rider crash into him when he took a switchback way too fast... no thanks, not on a fun day.

Me, Jackie, Tony and Jay. I have no idea why I'm making that face...

Anyways, I had promised to ride for/with my friend Jackie as she was trying to go for the "Queen of the Mountain" Jersey (the first man and the first woman over the top of Butterfly Gap were awarded the jersey) so the four of us road at a fairly steady pace the first 10 miles. It was then that a little disaster struck. The course had been marked with yellow paint for the 100milers to follow, however until it deviated away from the shared course (36,50,62) we were supposed to follow white paint... oops. At a certain point we are crossing a 4 way when I see riders going across the opposite direction of us. I call for a stop to check the cue sheet but Jackie doesn't hear me (or thought I was an idiot - which is possible too) and rides on. After a minute or two of confusion the RD pulls up in his truck and sets us straight. I inform him one of our riders is gone the wrong way and he goes to find her. We decide to take a break and wait for them to return and so we sit...and sit...and sit. Eventually we press on towards the rest stop, where we discover Jackie was brought  (in truck) and has already departed with another group about 10 minutes ahead of us. D'oh.

Once again we hit the road once more it's smooth sailing. Lots of joking around and having fun.

- It's worth mentioning that I stuck (mostly) to my nutrition plan mentioned last week. I had 5 NOW Honeycomb bars (and a banana at a rest stop :P ) and water, totaling up to around 1500 calories over the day, which worked out perfectly. (/aside)

And then, we reached the start of the climb. No turning back now... I give my regards and wellwishes to Tony and Jay and tell them I'll see them at the top. Another fellow stalks me up the beginning incline and we chat for a minute about how beautiful the scenery is (and it is breathtaking. Waterfalls line the beginning of the road) as we both start in on the long climb to the top. Here's a link to the mapmyride... "eyewatering" is a good way to describe the 19% pitch of the Cat2 climb. My 11-25 Cassette was NOT the correct choice for the day even with my compact crank. I found myself wishing for a 27 more than once. As the road turned skyward I found myself quite alone in my own suffering. It's these times I feel like I'm at my best. Each pedalstroke a lesson in pain, barely moving forward up what seems like an insurmountable climb. Standing was impossible as the canopy cover over the road had left it still wet... standing would only result in a spinning rear wheel. I see a couple of riders on the horizon, most of them walking at this point. It's very tough to see others walking their bike up a hill and not accept that you should do it too. The mental war at this point was at it's toughest. I also see another Cycology jersey ahead! Jackie! I catch her and we give each other some final encouragements to reach the top. I see the 1k mark on the road and know I've made it! We regroup and wait for Tony and Jay to catch up and get some much needed water refills. It's at this time we learn that another Cycology rider (Barry Lucas - who is an animal) has won the King of the Mountain jersey.

Me and Jackie on top of Butterfly Gap
Of course that still left us with another 50something miles to travel. We regroup and make our way back down "The Wall" and return to the "flatter" section of the route. It's here that we take our second trip off course. Once in Maryville (home sweet home) there are MANY routes painted. Unfortunately, many of them are painted in yellow... just like the 100mi route.  We end up having to take a very roundabout way through Albuquerque to get back on the right track. Eventually, after second guessing ourselves two or three times, we see the final rest stop. 20 miles to go! The final 20 are pretty uneventful other than me having my only "close call" of the ride, when I bounced off a rock in the road while braking before a corner at ~ 40mph. As soon as my front wheel lifts up I can feel it trying to lock up. I don't panic and ride it out with nothing more than a scare and a cut in my tire. Fortunately it wasn't bad enough to totally puncture, so I was able to ride it home. Finally we make our way back to Barleys, a successful 106 miles in the books. I load the bike, get changed and have a chance to watch everybody else enjoy free beer and pizza. (I had Hard Cider... gluten free selection! Oh yeah)

At least my hard cider looks like a beer in a cup :)

And so that was my Saturday. Not a race, but having fun and enjoying the day with friends... which is what it's all about.  It's good to be able to go out and have a good time and not worry about how long it took or who was in front of / behind me.

Every now and then at least :)

This weekend it's my Triathlon Anniversary. Five years ago I did my first tri (West Side Y Super Sprint) and I'll be doing it again on Saturday. It's short and super fast, hoping to continue my streak of PR'ing the course every year! I'll have a little bit of a report on it next week, and also possibly some initial impressions on these bad boys.

Spoiler Alert - these rings kick #@$!$
I've only JUST got them installed and had maybe a 20 mile ride on them, but my first thought (other than how amazing they look) was how slick the shifting on the front was.  But those are thoughts for another day!

Happy Independence Day! Don't blow up anything important!

Thanks for sifting through my ramblings! I truly appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

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