Our Annual Fourth of July Ride; Sharing a Coke with ‘Merica and, more important, with My Wife… It was a Hot One.
Five years ago on July 4th, the temperature was recorded at 96° (35 C). The temp off at the handlebars, taken from a Garmin computer, was 113° (45 C). That was our hottest ride that year. Actually, that could have been my hottest ride ever – I think it was. Yesterday’s Fourth ride shouldn’t have been close to that, the weather services had predicted a cool-down from the day before. That’s how it was supposed to go. That’s not how it did go. On the other hand, the day before it was 93 (34 C), too…
I laughed a little bit on stepping outside after I woke up. It was still in the upper 70’s. It was going to be nasty hot. I chose my full USA kit as I always do on the Fourth, and my 1999 Trek 5200 because it was hand-built in the USA (and more than once if you count the two times I rebuilt it in the time I had it).
Diane rode over and Jonathan drove. My wife and I wheeled our bikes out and we rolled out to meet everyone else at the old bike shop. We took it very easy and still ended up sweating buckets before we hit the shop on mile five. We were just a shade under 17 mph on the ride over.
The ride proper is an extended 100k – Strava says 65.2 miles – and we rolled smoothly from the start. 17-18-mph to start and it ramped up over two miles to 20-22 – and that’s mostly where the pace stayed for the remaining 63. There were periods where people fell off the back and we’d soft-pedal till they caught up, but for the most part it was a steady diet of low 20’s… and it was nice. I think our top speed for the ride was only in the upper 20’s, and that was on the home stretch where a local pro and Doc Mike acted like “a couple of horses taking it home to the barn”, as Chuck put it. I held on, and even took a pull for a couple of minutes north of 26-mph, but when I looked back, I’d dropped everyone so I sat up.
About 25-ish miles in, we stopped at a favorite gas station in Owosso, to reload the on-board H2O. Mrs. Bgddy wanted a Payday (the best candy bar for cycling there is) and I bought us each a Coke. Nothing is better when we’re feeling a little hit on a ride. It’ll bring you right back… The carbonation isn’t for everyone, though. Beware.
So, an interesting note on the ride. I’d ridden the Tuesday Night Club Ride the night before and it was described by a friend on Strava as a face melting 93° when we started. It was a brutal 37 mile stretch (including the warm-up – 29-1/2 miles of 21-mph+ hammering). It was, I would later find out, 92° when we pulled into the parking lot after yesterday’s ride. Our average for the 65 miler was just a shade under 19-mph (18.9 and change – or 30 km/h). Technically, it was cooler than the day before. By one measly degree… Fahrenheit.
One of our guys didn’t fair too well. I could tell he was in trouble with about twelve miles to go – he kept shifting around in his saddle, looking for the comfortable spot. He was cramping up pretty bad in the last five miles, a sure sign his electrolyte balance was way off and the heat was getting to him. He pulled into the parking lot disoriented enough that Chuck and I had to help him off his bike. He was absolutely smoked. We set him in his vehicle and he cranked up the AC. He was feeling better inside two minutes, so I went in and refilled my water bottles.
I still had five miles to go, so I concentrated on that.
Folks, it was an ugly five miles, let me tell you. Ugly. I went through most of the water I had before I pulled into the driveway. If I averaged 16-mph for that last stretch, it was a miracle. I actually thought about pulling over in the shade to rest, once. 75.6 miles on the day. I didn’t lose any weight on the ride, either, so my hydration must have been right on. While that last few miles was tough, the ride, and rest of the day, were perfect. We went over to my friend’s house to swim in his lake for a couple hours before coming home to cook a nice dinner.
Cycling with friends is as good as it gets on a Holiday. Especially one celebrating Independence.