It was going to be a hot one. We all knew it. 94° (34 C), sunny, barely a breeze and 64-ish miles. Where can I sign up for that! Actually, I’m completely acclimated to the heat now, so I was good to go. I readied my ’99 Trek 5200 because, ‘Merica (the bike was literally made in the USA – not “assembled”, not “designed”… actually made in the US). I’d prepped my bike and loaded Jess’s on the car rack. I wanted the extra miles and my wife was pretty sure I was crazy.
It took me a minute to get rolling, but once the legs warmed up from the previous day’s 19.7-mph 100k, after about a mile, I was able to pick the pace up considerably and tore off down the road. I wanted to start the actual 100 k with an average above where we’d likely end up so I didn’t taint the overall average with a slow warm-up. I arrived at the school parking lot with a 19.6-mph average and a smile on my face. I was ready to go.
The roll-out was slow and enjoyable and we increased pace to 20-mph within a quarter-mile or so, once everyone caught up. The route isn’t quite “pancake” flat, but it’s close (1,000 feet [300-ish meters] of up in 69 miles). Conditions were pretty close to perfect with no wind, a little cloud cover and temps in the low 70’s (22 C). “Fun” doesn’t quite do it justice. Perfect is pretty good, though.
We had a fantastic group and this was more a parade lap than an attempt at a speed record. There were conversations through the whole double pace-line with friends catching up with each other.
This year’s Firecracker 100 was why I ride a bike in the first place.
We picked up Matt about 14 miles in and Greg, a tremendous A Group cyclist, caught up us about 20-ish miles in. Greg is the rare A rider who could walk away from us at any point during a ride but can adjust his pace and power to ride with us like he’s one of the gang. I can do this with the B Group, but I’m only an A- anyway – and I’d struggle to do the same with a C Group.
Sadly, the ride wasn’t without its complications. My wife had a shifter cable break right in the middle of a climb so her rear derailleur dropped to her highest gear in the middle of a climb. It was a mess. We ended up looping the cable back through the lock bolt, then looping the extra cable around the derailleur to keep it from sucking into the wheel to give her a more suitable middle gear and she headed for home with Mike, Joe and Matt.
Then the pace picked up.
The last 25 miles were pretty much about as fun as I can remember having on a bicycle. There wasn’t much talking because, speed, but that’s right where I like it. Just fast enough I’m wondering if I’ll be able to take a decent turn and just slow enough I end up at the front for two or three miles.
We pulled into the parking lot with 64-ish miles (69-ish for me). It was smiles and “socially distanced” “almost hi-fives” all around. There’s no question it was a hot one, but it was a heck of a start to our 4th of July celebrations. I was grateful for being me all day long.
It’s Sunday Funday today, so 40-ish miles on the tandem and hopefully some easier miles. More on my wife’s shifter later. It’s a mess – like, “new shifter” mess. I’ve got her gravel bike set up for the road for now.