My friends and I hammered out the ride through Hell, Michigan also known as “One Helluva Ride”. One hundred miles of mild rolling hills intermixed with lots and lots of flat. The road surfaces ranged from decent to gnarly. Gnarly isn’t so bad solo. With a group of six, rough roads make it just a bit tricky.
The real tough part of OHAR is that it’s normally hot. Upper 80’s to mid 90’s. Heat was not an issue on Saturday. Temps started out at a perfect 65 and only rose to 77 by the time we were done. Unfortunately the wind did not cooperate as much.
We left promptly at 8 am. We were on the gas right out of the gate. I wasn’t able to take one photo over the entire 101-1/4 miles and it was wonderful.
We fought wind and potholes but at least we didn’t have to lose five to seven pounds in sweat. I felt spectacular for the first 40 miles, fast, free and loose. By 50 miles, with an average in excess of 20 mph and spending my fair share up front, I was starting to fade. By 60 miles I was starting to break the remainder into chunks. I was having a tough go of it. I would feel okay for several miles, then run into a rough patch where I’d want to take a shortcut and go home. Then I’d come back. As the miles were ticked off, the “come back” sections got shorter and the rough patches grew in length and intensity. We stopped for lunch at 66 miles and that was the difference maker. I had a turkey sammich and some noodle salad (heh) and bounced back. We were stopped for maybe 30 minutes – normally that’s too long but yesterday that worked wonders for me.
We rolled out of the lunch spot slowly at first, maybe 18-19 mph for the first mile or two. For those not in the know, if you roll out a couple of miles an hour slower than your overall average after a stop, your legs have a chance to spin back up and a longer break like that doesn’t hurt so much. Try getting straight back on the gas and you’ll be miserable, often for the rest of the way.
I was still breaking down the ride though I was feeling like me again. I spent a lot of time up front and in the first three positions. I always figure, if I’m feeling good, spend it while I’ve got it. 70 miles in, just 30 to go. Two hours if I just sat up and pedaled in easy. No problem! 80 miles in, 20 miles to go. Only an hour to go. 90 miles in, just 10 to go – 30 minutes… At that point I got my head straight and knew I’d be good to go. I started thinking about a sprint finish at the Chelsea City Limits sign. 95 miles in, 5 to go and I was down in the drops, cruising along comfortably. Before I knew it, the sign came into view. I was in perfect position. Second bike, 25 mph, and I was looking at my launch point. Then I heard the word “sprint” from Chuck a little farther back. I listened and watched for someone to come up on me… I saw a wheel out of the corner of my eye, first and without hesitation, I launched. I gave it everything my tired legs had and I launched in the perfect gear from 25 to 35. With 50 meters to go, I knew nobody was going to catch me. I looked back and I had several bike lengths on everyone. I sat down and up, rolling past the sign with a smile on my face.
We rolled over the 100 mile mark just a few perfect seconds under 5 hours. 20 mph, on the nose. I don’t know with certainty if we were the first group of century finishers but I have to believe we were. We didn’t get passed once and I heard my favorite three letter word, a lot as we passed people… “Wow”.
Nothing beats hollering, “On your left” and hearing someone say, “Wow” as you go by at 23-26 mph. Nothing.