Holy cow, what a century! Not an impressive time (5:14:47), thanks to the gusty NE winds, which turned out to be in our face or quartering cross for the majority of the ride. But it was a killer, straight from the start.
Standing at the line, about 5th row back, I looked back to see another 150 yards or so of riders filling the road from shoulder to shoulder. And 100ft after the start line it narrowed down to one lane. So I knew we had to move fast to avoid a mess. The pack didn’t disappoint. Average speed for the first 10 minutes was 23mph, with surges to 30mph. Into the headwind.
Two hours into it and we’re still averaging 21mph, most of it into the wind. Then we got to turn southwest for a 8-ish mile run with a nice tailwind. That’s when it got interesting. We had a few folks out ahead and about 50 in our pack. For some reason, the fourth guy in line decided to sit up and lose touch, so I moved around him and bridged the gap. Tired of sitting up in my cowhorns, I moved for a pull at the front. Got down into my aeros (which felt great), shifted gears and got into my groove. Next thing I know I’m dragging the whole pack across the country at 30mph for the next 6 miles. Damn it felt good. I hadn’t done that in a while. I’m not quick, but I can push a gear steady.
Later on, I heard a guy comment (who didn’t know I was right behind), talking about a stretch where we had a great paceline going. He said “that tri guy was trying to kill us, but we were flying and it was fun”. I assured him I wasn’t trying to kill them, but wanted to just take my turn at the front. Over the next 40 miles he didn’t mind sitting in behind me, that’s for sure.
Lots of folks with cramping issues today, which was odd, because it was relatively cool – 64F at the start (7am)/85F at noon. This was the cool weather that I had hoped would come in for IMLOU, although those folks could’ve done without the gusty NE wind. I ended up handing out quite a few of my Endurolytes (lucky I always have extra).
The ride was executed extremely well. Held on the farm roads of northern TN/southern KY, on most of my old riding routes that I used extensively before we moved this past month. Little traffic, smooth roads. We did hear that two riders were hit by a car behind us, although no one knew any details. But given the way some of the folks were riding, it didn’t surprise me. Today was the first time I’d ridden in a large group in about eight years and it still amazes me how little riding etiquette folks have. I know folks were looking at me sideways since I was not a “roadie”, but the roadies were the ones that were having the issues.
Anyway, back to the event. Besides good road surfaces, they placed aid stations every 10 miles along the entire route (both a 100mi and 100K). Well stocked aid stations, with everything that you’d want at an aid station. Me, I carried all my food, so I just needed water. Although I did sneak half a banana and a couple of orange slices at the 80 mile point. My plan today was to make sure my race nutrition was dialed in, which it was. I had been futzing with carrying water to help dilute the HEED, Perpeteum and Gel, but found that by replacing the fuel with water bottles, I end up bonking. Bad call. So this week I bought a Profile Aero Bottle, which held my water while my three bottles held my fuel. It worked perfectly, allowing me to sip my water between slugs of HEED and Perpeteum.
Since they were serving Gatorade on the course (yuck), I carried extra powder in little zip-loc bags. So that got me to thinking that I’ll be forgoing my tri suit during my race and taking the extra few moments to change into bike shorts and jersey. Over my long bricks (100+ miles), I’ve found that the padding on my Pearl Izumi Tri Shorts just don’t keep me chafe free, even allowing one nasty saddle sore to develop. I’ve never had one of those in my two decades of riding. I thought it was a fluke, but another long ride showed some other issues, so I don’t think I’ll wear them on race day. And my tri top has only one pocket, which is great for short rides, but since I’m now going to carry all of my fuel, I’ll need more than one. There were some other advantages today, so I think I’ll go that route. I’m not out to set a record during my race, just to finish. So I’m not worried about a few extra minutes in transition.
Anyway, there were a couple of interesting moments during the ride today. At about mile 25, one of those slow motion moments happened. A guy about 10 feet in front of me was putting his bottle back in the cage. It slipped and fell to the road. I watched it slide across my path, so I knew I was safe. Then it bounced off a wheel straight into my path. It was going to get ugly, real quick. No time to even hop over it, I just went loose and rode over it with both wheels. All I could think of was the pack of guys right on my tail riding over me. But no dramas. The guy was very apologetic, but no harm done, so I set his mind at ease.
The second interesting moment was but 100 yards from the finish. A hard right turn into the school entrance, I stood up to sprint it in. Right at that moment, both legs completely cramped, from toe to hip. I immediately sat down, which relieved the problem. So I tucked aero and pushed it hard through the line. Immediately after I sat up, they did it again. I’ve never seen my quads in the shape that they were in – almost triangular! I was afraid to stop, because I knew I’d fall over. I couldn’t get them to loosen. So there I was, completely locked up, coasting through the parking lot. Nothing was relieving them. Finally I got the idea to pedal backwards, which hurt like hell but worked. To a point. I was able to coast up to the car and get one leg down without making a spectacle of myself. Slowly the other leg released and I was able to stand, but now I was afraid to throw my leg over. I must’ve looked quite funny standing there for a few minutes, trying to figure out what to do. Eventually it all worked out.
I guess that means I left it all on the course, eh?
Anyway, this is starting to rival War and Peace, so I’ll stop.
But not before I share something I overheard as I was leaving. One guy was explaining what he put on the event feedback form. He said that “everything was excellent, although the pigs didn’t smell like bacon. They smelled like pigs. Fix it.”