I’d been training for only three weeks, and I’d put in a little less than 200 miles on my road bike since I decided to do this ride. I was glad I’d invested at least that much time on the bike to prepare, but I wished I’d had more. Good thing I love road biking so much.
The picture above is actually the 100k group, consisting of serious riders all lean, light, and spandex-ed out. The 50k group was smaller, but still primarily riders who looked like riders. I counted a grand total of 2 other riders who looked to be as, um, heavyset (read obese), or out of shape, as I was. Most were on road bikes, some of them very nice. There were 2 mountain bikes, 1 recumbent, and 1 tandem in my group. I’ll guess there were 40 or 50 riders in my group.
My ride started at 7:00 am, and I got there around 6:30, in time to see the bigger 100k group start. I had brief thoughts about joining them and pushing myself to my absolute limits and beyond, but decided against it. My longest two road rides ever were around that distance, and that was in the past when I was in much better shape. I didn’t think today was the day to go for that distance, plus my Achilles tendon had been bothering me all week and I was actually pretty concerned about it for even the 50k.
This was the first ride I’ve ever done in a group larger than about 4, so it was a bit of a new experience for me. But it was fine. We cruised out of Rogers easily and soon hit the first uphill. Up to that point I was just behind the lead pack and considered joining them. The hill removed all aspirations of that as they pulled away and I fell behind. Rider after rider passed me. I was in my lowest gear and wished for several lower gears! This is where being overweight kills you – the hills! Dragging my larded self up those hills is no easy feat.
The route after that was easier than I thought it would be. To be sure: it’s hilly. More so than any route I’d ridden in preparation. But aside from two hills of significance, most of the route is rolling hills with some relatively flat ground interspersed. Here’s the Cyclemeter link.
And the KML file as shown in Google Earth.
The TASC folks and volunteers had done a great job organizing and executing this event. There were multiple rest stops stocked with snacks and drinks. It was really encouraging to pass the rest stops and have people there clapping and cheering you on! In addition, there were support vehicles following the riders in case of breakdowns of the bike or rider variety, and there was significant presence from local law enforcement.
It wasn’t until the last two hills, in the last few miles of the ride, that I really began to fade. I, ever so slowly, made it up them and cruised back to downtown Rogers. I was following a couple of other riders in the last few blocks and they missed a turn so I didn’t cross the finish line going the right direction. But, hey, I completed the route in right at 2 hours (actually I tracked it at 32 miles vs the planned 31) so I’m pretty happy with that. I don’t know for sure, but I’m estimating that I was in the middle of the group as there were a large number of riders finishing behind me.
Natalie and the boys were waiting for me and the boys were enjoying the bounce house. They had several activities set up for kids, which was really nice. I saw an old mountain biking buddy and we made plans to ride together again soon. After I changed, we enjoyed some tasty breakfast at the Iron Horse Coffee Company (ironic since I’m not drinking caffeine these days). All in all, it was a great morning and I’m excited about hopefully riding the 100k next year.