Saturday was my chance to play roadie for a day, and I have to say that I’m pretty happy about it. Since I normally only ride on the road to help my mountain biking, it’s usually pretty boring. Saturday was different though. Yep, a nice big group ride at the 10th Annual CSC Spring Training Ride. I arrived early at Harrisburg Elementary School to register and to chat it up with the usual crew.
The tent setup might look a little familiar, since it’s the same stuff that used for all of the local races around here. Cycling Event Promoter Neal Boyd put on this event, and as always it was a good one. There was a bit of sadness in the air due to the death of Adam Little, a local cylist who was killed while riding to work a few days back. Jonathan Lowe, reporter from News 14 Carolina, was on the scene:
I got to talk to Mr. Lowe for a bit before the ride, and thanked him for coming out to our events. He's a pretty cool guy. He actually remembered me from the last cycling event he covered, the grand opening of Southwest District Park last fall. He told me how much fun he had covering that story, and also how difficult he found mountain biking to be. He got some great footage from the trail while riding on a borrowed mountain bike. This time though,he stayed on his feet while filming. Here is a link to the story:
Bicycle Ride Raises Money For Late Cyclist’s Family
After mingling with the crowd for a bit, it was time to go. I met up with my pal RJ and we talked about how we weren’t sure about doing the 55 mile distance. It would be a first for the both of us. Another friend of mine, Cathi, joined us at the start and said she would ride along. We knew it would be a good thing to have someone along who has tackled such a distance, and could show us the ways of the roadie. We had a lot to learn about road riding.
Neal made the final announcements, and then we were ready to go.
We stayed with a pretty large group for the first part of the ride, and I practiced my Tour de France skills. As hard as I tried to keep a decent pace, I often found myself shooting up to the front of the group. I would pay for this later. We stopped at the first rest stop, and I stuffed myself with PB&J and refilled my water bottles. We still had a long way to go.
By the time we arrived at the second rest stop, we had lost most of the group. The three of us were still together, and there were a few people still with us. Once again we ate and filled our water bottles.
It was time to hit the road again. Since the pace had slowed down considerably, I decided to take my chances with some on-the-bike photography:
Here’s RJ keeping pace with another rider. This guy and his friend stayed with us for most of the ride.
Cathi is all smiles, probably because she’s done these long rides before.
This one nearly caused me to crash, but I had to prove that I was there.
We kept plugging along, and surprisingly, I felt pretty good. I saw some weird shit out there in the country, but I couldn’t get my camera out in time. The funniest thing had to be the ostrich we passed that started running along side of us. I laughed so hard at the poor bird that I nearly crashed into a ditch. Too bad I didn’t get a photo of that one.
As we traveled through four different counties (Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Union, and Stanly), I started to cramp a little. We ended up on a familiar road, and I knew that the next (and last) rest stop was near. When we arrived, I was amazed at how far we were from civilization.
Yeah, that was the Reed Gold Mine, the site of the first documented gold find in the United States. There was no turning back now. Since I was cramping a little , I made sure I ate some extra food and downed some Gatorade. One guy in our group was kind enough to give me some electrolyte pills to help with the cramping. There was no way I would quit, so I wanted to do everything I could to keep going. I briefly hoped that he didn’t slip me some acid, since that would have made the last twenty miles pretty weird. Well, maybe hallucinating would have been a good thing.
Cathi decided to take off with another group at that last rest stop, so RJ and I stayed with the two guys we had been riding with. We all pushed each other along through some horribly steep climbs and super fast decents. I looked down at one point on a downhill and saw that I was hitting about 40 miles per hour. That was pretty fun. When I saw that we had about eight miles to go, I forgot all about the cramping, the back pain, and the brick of a seat I was riding on. We started picking up the pace. In the meantime though, we dropped the other two riders in our group.
When we made the final turn onto Stallings Road, we knew the end was near. We picked it up a bit and headed for the finish line. RJ and I both said, “We did it.” I guess we had something to be proud of, because that’s the furthest that either of us had even been on a ride. I couldn’t have done it without him though, that’s for sure.
That ride put me one step closer to being ready for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek this coming Saturday, although I’m still having my doubts. Mentally though, I know that I can push myself to keep going, no matter how much pain I’m in. I guess it doesn’t matter how many miles I ride, as long as I finish. I plan to do just that.