It was humid if not warm when I lined up in the 100-Mile riders’ coral. Our pre-ride instruction included a doctor who told us that number one we should have fun and number two “be safe.” Interesting. I think safety should always trump fun. But maybe that’s me.
The first 10 miles to Aid Station #1 is a mass rollout. It may start to thin out near the aid station but it’s mostly one big group ride. I pulled in and found a mechanic, who happened to be from Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop which is where I rented my bike. Since I had no pump with me and had the bike since Friday, I knew I would need a little air. He pumped up the tire, I refilled a water bottle and was out of there in 3.5 minutes. I wanted to keep my rest stops short.
I rolled into the second stop for water. Time was 1.5 minutes. I went by the third stop which used to be the cookie stop. It’s right around the corner so maybe it still is. Here was a sign warning riders the next stop was the cutoff for the 100 mile route at 10:30 a.m. I rolled into Aid Station #4 at 9:50 a.m. Darn.
Then it was off to the Wall. Or as it’s called, Devil’s Climb. I was on a rental bike. My guess is when I rode this four years ago my Trek Pilot was fitted with a 30:28 gear ratio. It was difficult but I don’t remember struggling (like everyone else seemed to be). This bike was setup with a 34:28. I’m older. The ratio is worse. It’s not getting easier.
The climb was hard. Damn hard. There were more people walking than riding. My Garmin was setup up with a maximum heart rate of 180 and Garmin was going nuts because I was over that (186). I was displaying heart rate and new that. My legs ached and my body wanted to quit. But I would keep going.
I pulled into the aid station near the top of the climb (essentially it was at the top) and talked to the kids from the Texas 4000. This was their aid station and they were quite helpful. I spent 24 minutes here which represents half the time I spent in all stops.
The roads from here were very “heavy.” Chip and tar, heavy on the chips. Not a smooth surface at all. It’s hard to pedal on this surface but must keep moving.
I stopped at each aid station after this. Around Mile 70 we saw the chickens. I think it was an FFA group and the girl proudly displayed “Blackberry.”
The roll in to the finish went well. Ninety nine miles went OK but that last mile forced me to think why am I here? Why am I here when Jake and Alex are not? Or Joe Petrucelli? Or Nancy Natoli?
I rode by myself all day. I never hooked up with anyone all day long. It was just a 100 mile solo effort. So I entered the finishing chute and made sure I was alone. I stayed right, for survivors and videoed as I got my yellow rose for they hand out for survivors.
I rode for many today. I did not wear a survivor’s bib. I have transformed so that this ride is not about me – it’s about others. If I were to do this again for me I’d say this was my last time. But if I ride for others I may be back.
And if I ride it again, I have to remember, NO RENTAL BIKE. I want my bike which is geared a little more favorably to the Devil’s Climb.