Sunday, June 8, 2008

100 mile ride for a 100 degree day? Sure!

Today in the Charlotte area the temperatures hit the 100 degree mark. I thought the perfect way to celebrate would be to conquer my first 100 mile bicycle ride of the season!

The story of the weekend's rides actually began on Saturday. Even before that, since I couldn't run on Thursday I took Holman (my bike) to the Booty Loop for seven laps. I averaged a reasonable 18.4 miles per hour, one of my best performances yet. Even though it was in the low 90s during the twilight hours I didn't find the temperature all that disturbing. And then on Friday I rode my other bike to and from the office.

Saturday I rose at 5:30 and left the house shortly after 6:10. I wove my way up to Providence and from there descended down towards Mineral Springs via Potter Road. Once at Waxhaw, I crossed up through Marvin and made my way towards 521. I was determined to finish this leg off - the last time I had two flat tires at the intersection of I-485 and had to be picked up. This time the ride was a success and I felt really good after the 58 miles, a far cry from the misery-fest last Sunday.

It was at that time I had aspirations to do the big ride on Sunday. That afternoon I planned my route accordingly. A group, led by KC and the Sunshine Group, was leaving Crowders Mountain State Park for the various loops. I really enjoy the "40" (37 miles) but I hate driving all the way out there. So why not hook up with the group? It had to be planned just ride - then later on I called Kevin to discuss my plans.

Once again I was up at 5:30 to prepare for the big assault. This time I brought my Camelbak loaded to the gill with water. I left via Tyvola and then made my way down to Tryon. The goal was to get somewhere close to 40 miles before meeting the group at 8:30. The direct route was 21 miles, so I vaulted up past CLC's Whitehall Preserve then swung down to Gold Hill. Once on Zoar I decided to explore Youngblood, which used to be a "dead end." It made me think of my early rides out here with my first housemate, Sean. This time there was a new Palisades parkway. Once I crossed 49 I tried something new going all the way up 274 and then down Meek. Folks, there is some beautiful farm scenery out this way. I then hit Ridge Road and my rendezvous at 8:18 with around 37 miles.

My wait was quite long, long enough to attract the interest of the local law enforcement. Really though, the lady was quite pleasant. I was about to abandon on my own around 9:00AM when I saw the group. In addition to Kevin, there was Mona, Greg, Franco, and my Vineman comrade John Hoover. From there we continued on pushing our way to Filbert, SC. The peach was just opening, but for some reason no one wanted to go in. By the time we started the "hammer" section on 161 it had gotten quite exposed and hot. I led the charge but was taking it quite easy. At the junction everyone but Mona left for the 60 mile option, which I rate as extremely difficult. Mona and I then pulled up 161 but I left her to continue the usual route, I wanted to try and bridge the rides by riding north to where the 60 mile route continues on 161. This meant including "The Pinnacle" climb, a nasty nasty pitch. While I was absolutely dying up this pitch I was surprised to see Mona coming down the other side. She definitely wanted to get her "ouch" on. I waited for her at the bottom then we continued to the park. Through some amazing coincidence, at the entrance a woman stopped to pick up a turtle attempting to cross the road - it turned out to be our friend Sandy Chavez, who I haven't seen in quite some time!

At the visitor center I filled up my pack and bottles. I was at 67 miles. This last stretch was unbelievably furnace hot. I did time myself around 33 minutes to reach Ridge/Glenn, so the group must have been really slow or more likely just got a bad start. I logged a little less than 40 miles for the loop, which seems like very little to add from the normal 37 miles. Not worth it, except to have your ass kicked on the Pinnacle. Descending down Ridge was like descending into hell, the furnace just got hotter and hotter. I stopped in at the first convenience store to down a 32 ounce soft drink. Once back in North Carolina the climb up to Shopton was just killing me. I had to stop later on Shopton to just rest and regroup for the final assault. Thankfully my mileage was enough to come out my direct route to Tyvola and home. I was wildly excited as I coasted down Milford to rescue my dog from the house. I had logged 101.8 miles and done it in a little less than six hours. I had been out of the road for almost eight hours! The best part was that I averaged 17.2 miles an hour, which was definitely something to be happy about.

I need that.

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