Why am I not surprised?
Starting out yesterday morning the temperature was bitter, just over freezing. Even so, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so I anticipated a quick warm up. I started out in my USA jersey, arm warmers and my cold weather jacket. Below I wore my Brooks compression shorts, my cycling shots and a thin pair of tights. Booties were also in order. I thought about adding another upper layer for a minute and I was ultimately glad I didn’t. Ten minutes to eight I got a call from my wife to wish me luck, and an ominous taunt from my youngest – she informed me that I’d better be in first place crossing the finish line so she could cheer me on. Considering all of the high end carbon on site (including 2 Trek Tri-bikes, I figured that would be an impossibility, but told her I’d do my best.
We started out promptly at 8am, about 50 of us if I had to guess. I started toward the middle but quickly moved up to the front of the pack. Another rider joined me and actually took a pull for a mile but he started slowing down (or I sped up) and I soon passed him and before I knew it, I was on my own. It was another 20 miles before I happened on a rider who had snuck out early (this was not a timed event, it was a charity ride). I saw him when he was still a mile ahead of me, when he still danced with the heat rising off of the asphalt. As I reeled him in, he would check over his shoulder and hop out of his saddle and pedal his ass off as he turned back to stave me off. I had him. As I began my pass by announcing “on the left” he looked over his shoulder and said, “man I knew there was going to be a rabbit out here today”.
Who knew, I was the rabbit.
I hit the gas, I wanted for him to try to keep up, and watch me pull away, knowing he didn’t have a chance. I was still averaging 20 mph at that point, certainly quite a bit faster than I’d intending on riding, but being in front had an unexpected affect – I liked it and it pushed me to ride faster! I bumped it up to 22 to put some distance between us and held that for a couple of miles. Before we hit 25 miles, I’d opened a healthy lead. I slowed back down to 20 and by the time we hit the turn around I had a mile on everybody. At 30 miles I started to tire out a bit and I started to feel it slightly. I popped my third Roctane, cherry/lime and washed it down with some Gatorade. Half way home and I was into the wind. I concentrated on keeping my cadence up and fluid. Mile 36, 37 and 38 ticked by. Then I realized that I was in trouble. The organizers had painted arrows on the road to distinguish the route – green for the 100k, pink and orange for the shorter routes. I followed them meticulously but I was almost back to the farm, 24 miles too soon. When I reached the farm I stopped and asked the director where I’d gone wrong. I showed her my map on the phone and she said I’d missed the extended leg, instead of turning at the 23 mile mark I should have gone straight. It wasn’t marked correctly out on the road, and when I stated so she insisted that it was, that she’d painted the arrows herself… Rather than argue, I decided to do part of the first loop until I hit the 50 mile mark, then I could turn around and still get my 100k in. I took off. As I approached the turn around point, studying my on board map, it occurred to me that I could probably just finish that loop and end up close enough… Then I turned north, into the wind yet again, and I began to regret the decision to do the full loop. Had I turned around at 50 the trip back would have mostly been dealing with crosswinds.
I got down as low as I could on the drops and tried to get back to repeating “I’m the rabbit”. I didn’t feel like a stinking rabbit at that point. I was getting tired, fast. I downed my last gel and with eight miles left dusted off the last of my on board liquid…just 8 miles to go. I was sitting on 55.
Seven, six… I was hurting all over. Five, four… 12 minutes to go…I’m the rabbit…three, two, I called my wife to let her know that I’d be there in five minutes… One, I was so close to meeting my goal of 3:30, I’m the rabbit… With 600 meters to go I turned the corner and saw the finish. 500, 400, 300 I could hear my girls cheering me on to the finish – I kicked it to look strong for my girls. 200, 100. Done. And none of the bikes from the 100k group were back yet. I got and gave hugs, downed three large glasses of water, and slid off of my bike. 63.3 miles in 3:30:34.
God bless my wife, she walked my bike back to the car. I told her as much as I could about the ride while trying to collect my head, and looked around for some of the stronger riders that I’d expected to beat me. I was the only one.
My wife said that three other guys finished just before me and I remember passing them on the way back, so it is possible that I wasn’t first (it’s also possible that they did one of the shorter rides). Either way, it’s safe to say I was in the top five. More importantly, I made it and I made in the time I’d set to do it in.
It was one awesome ride.
Cycling: 567 of 18,759
Calories Burned: 1,236 of 27,037
Dinner for the evening consisted of a much deserved Fudrucker’s 2/3 lb burger, onion rings and several iced tea’s.