The weather forecast was weird. It was supposed to be hot, as is normal for this ride (I’ve never done it with a finishing temp below the upper 80’s – call it 28 C), but remain cloudy for much of the later miles with rain rolling in after 3pm – plenty of time for us to get done and get gone.
For those who follow me on Strava, I track certain rides on my phone because I’ve yet to pick up a Garmin so time gets added to my rides when I’m walking at a rest stop – my app picked up a 19.7 average while my computer showed two tenths more miles (I almost forgot to start the app) and a moving time of 4:55:45, a 20.3-mph average. Let’s face it, six tenths isn’t much, but 20.3 for 100 miles is a lot sexier than 19.7 – especially when you figure we only had five guys.
Anyway, getting back to what’s important, it shouldn’t be surprising with a name like One Helluva Ride that rolls through Hell, Michigan, we haven’t had much luck in completing the ride. We’d cut it short the last three or four years – and that’s not a bad thing. By the time we get to lunch, it’s so miserably hot that when one guy suggests cutting it short, the rest crumble in seconds.
Death by 3% Hills
Not literally dead, like “my heart was literally beating out of my chest”, one of the dumbest sentences I’ve ever heard spoken in a commercial. No, it literally wasn’t. You’d be dead, sweetheart – and none of our group died because of little, tiny 3% hills. By the time mile 98 flashed on the computer, though, we’d seen enough. The point is, there were a lot of little, baby hills and rough pavement that it was torturous on the feet. If by torturous you mean awesomely painful, yet not really torture, because it’s a bike ride, dude. In the scheme of things, that’s my kind of torture.
The Winston Wildcard
We had my friend, Winston with us. He’s about eight inches shorter than me and you would have to sit a 40 lb bag of salt on his lap for him to get an idea of what it’s like to be me, climbing a hill. He pulled, averaging north of 21 mph, for the first fourteen miles. When Winston’s riding, it’s gonna be fast. The dude is freaking strong – and a great guy to be around. With just five miles to go, I was hurting. Bad. I was struggling to stay on at the back and I just wanted to get off my bike. I was “stick a fork in me” done, so I told my friends I was slipping off the back, that I’d see them soon enough. Here comes Winston back after me, and he says, “I’m not going to leave you back here with only a few miles to go, now come on… Let’s get it done.” He pulled me back to Chuck and Mike and the four of us cruised it in – if you can call north of 20-mph “cruising”.
So with that, we set our bikes on the nearby rack and headed over to the watermelon booth, where they served the most delectable watermelon wedges I’ve ever eaten. Every year, the watermelon at the end is one of the most talked about parts of the ride. They chill it to a perfect 40-ish degrees, slice it up, and line it up on the table for famished riders to eat. I had four wedges and almost filled up on watermelon. Those of you who eat it, know how much you have to eat to “fill up” on watermelon. It’s a lot, but it’s so good!
There are those scenic rides, like the Northwest Tour, where you want to slow the pace down to look around and take in the beauty of seeing the land from a saddle. OHOAR isn’t one of those. There isn’t a lot to look at (though it’s vastly better than the Tee-shirt Ride – woof!). One Helluva Ride is one of those, “put your head down and let’s hammer this out” rides where you want to see how fast you can get around the 100 mile course, while exploring just how close to heat stroke you can get while doing it.
With today left to run up my weekly mileage total, I’m sitting on 225 miles… Just 14 days into the month, I’m sitting on 583 (that should be close to 640 after today, midway through the month) and, for the year, I’ve already surpassed my total mileage for all of 2012 with 5,388. Truthfully, this has been one helluva year. I can say that I’ve had happier moments, obviously, but overall, this has been one great year. I’m having more fun than politicians would normally allow. It just isn’t fair for one guy to enjoy life so much, to horde all of that happy. They’d have to knock me down a few pegs and share some of my happiness with others, you know, to spread the happy.