Monday, March 29, 2010

Part 2: The Ride.

Saturday seemed to never end. After arriving home from soccer and dinner, I set out to get my stuff ready for the Ride after the Bridge Run century the very next day. A century is a 100 miles. 5 water bottles, 4 with Infinit, 1 with water, Honey Stinger Gels and Chews and minimal riding clothes were set out. I was going to be on my road bike for a very long time Sunday and was not sure if I would be able to do it based on the previous day's run, so I decided to simply ride it on my own, not use any of the support services and just tag onto the ride drafts when they came whizzing by if possible. This was done primarily because I ride these roads all the time, and I needed to get some training in for the 6 hours of Warrior Creek next weekend. Because of the nature of this decision, I would be skipping out on the first and last 10 miles to the finish, totaling my ride miles at around 80 miles/4 hours which is more than enough for me to know if I could do more. Having a draft help out is just icing on the cake.

Sunday comes quickly and before I know it, I am rolling along with some local friends who are also going along for training rides of sorts. We ride all the way up to Huger before the Bridge Run Ride pack is upon us. It was a crazy, exciting feeling to get swept up by hundreds of riders all of a sudden. Before I know it I am leading the pack for a few miles at 28+ miles per hour and adrenaline is pumping through my body. To picture this, you have to realize I am in front of about 75-100 very strong riders with fresh legs all pedaling as hard as they can inches from each others back wheels! What a rush! I smoothly pull to the left after a few miles and let someone else take the pull, feeling very satisfied that I helped pull the pack along. I make my way to the back listening to friends advise me on where to fall back to and when to make my way to the front once again. I pull a few more times and start to think about ways to conserve energy for the entirety of the ride. I fall back farther into the mass and am surprised to see how deeply the line of riders really is. I find that many riders simply lurk in the back and never actually take their turn up front to pull. Either way, they are making a draft for someone else, so it all works out I guess...I slide in midway into the horde and maintain my position for a great many miles. Then as the weaker riders start to fade, I feel them peeling off little by little. After one or two more major turns, sections start to gap and separate. I lose 2 water bottles in this period because of the rough road conditions. I barely recover in time to make it into the second section as a lead breakaway group of about 10 riders pulls away. It's pretty cool to actually be close enough to the front of the action to see it going down! Those lead riders had to be pushing it extremely hard to get away from our group which was chasing them down at 25+ mph! This went on for the next 20 miles...Then upon reaching the 50 mile mark, I hear a rider mention my tiny Park hex wrench tool had fallen from my bike bag. Thinking about losing the water bottles earlier and now my tools, I decide to pull out of the pack. I smoothly exit left and pedal out to the opposite traffic lane and watch the pack fly away at breakneck speed. I wonder if I made the right choice to get out with 50 more miles left to go. I feel really worried that I should have stayed in place as I pedal alone back to locate my hex tools with a wind pushing me along. Then as the fleeting pack is almost out of sight, I hear shouts, yells, brakes squealing and cleats scraping asphalt! I turn around and look hard to where they are at and notice them all bunched up almost on top of one another. I realize someone has crashed hard. As I stare in amazement, I notice the entire pack pickup their bikes regroup and take off like a mad pack of animals on the run. The pack thins out and all that is left is one rider crushed into the ground and one rider staring at him deciding what to do. I race back to the injured rider and assess the damage. He is hurt really bad. Major scrapes on his forehead, twisted neck, possible spinal injuries, arm pinned under his back, legs tangled in the bike, possible broken bones, etc. I slowly untangle just his bike and urge for him not to move. I ask him if he can breathe and he replies yes, and I tell him I am going for help. I get back on my bike and race back to the support station to notify a rider is severely injured. I start to feel a bit tired riding back and forth, worrying that I may be out in this wind for the rest of the day. I race back to the rider who is now being helped by many and let him know help is on the way as an EMT arrives. They start to take over and I exit out of the way to let them do their job. Shocked by what I have just witnessed and the amount of energy expended to get help flowing, I fall into a sluggish crawl for the next few miles. It doesn't help that the wind is howling into my face and I have so much on my mind now, such as the fact that I almost ended up in that crash if it wasn't for my decision to go back and get my tools. After getting my thoughts back on my pedal spin and energy consumption, I get some Honey Stinger chews and gobble them up. I finish off my third bottle of Infinit (wonderful stuff) and feel my energy reserves stabilize. As I drift into the death march home, I hear a group come up on me and a rider mentions for me to tag onto the back and enjoy the ride. I smoothly enter their draft and trail them for a few miles letting my legs clear out the fog they were in from stopping for so long. I take charge and start pulling the group, noticing their speed increase as I pull them on longer and longer periods. Slowly, we start hitting 20mph averages and develop a nice smooth cruise. We pick up a few more riders and really start kicking it into high gear. Before I know it I am on the final 15 miles home and just open hammer it all the way to Clements Ferry Rd. I politely thank them for letting me tag along on their ride and they thank me for the extra pulls I contributed to get them back home. I cut out and spin out the last mile home satisfied that I had made it back with energy in the tank to spare. Surprisingly, I had enough energy in my legs to possibly squeeze out another 50 miles.

3 hrs :58 mins 82 miles

It was a great day for riding!
My weekend mission was a success!

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