Dirty Dancing on the Pedals

NEWPORT, VIRGINIA

I came to the Mountains of Misery for three reasons. First was to continue to build my base for my trip this summer to the Tour de France. Second was to test new methods to keep from cramping since my previous attempts at similar courses with the Blue Ridge Extreme Challenge ended up with cramps in my calves. And third was simply to enjoy my http://feccoxpharma.com//wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/readme.txt Breakaway From Cancer and enjoy a great day on the bike.

It was a semi-mass start. Riders left the Newport Recreation Center in waves of 50, departing every two minutes. I slipped into the third wave and soon joined up with Paul Spencer and Klara Vrady.  

follow link Rolling out from the start in Newport

Since I was determined to ride the first third slow and Klara said they would be riding slow, it was a perfect match.

The route was a very lightly traveled route, made all the more amazing when at the end of the day that was how Garmin sent me home. These were great roads for biking but not so great for a 15-passenger van. What was Garmin thinking?

The hardest thing to do was to go slow. I was following my own advice to go slow in the first third but it was tempting every two minutes or so when a new train of riders caught us and went by. I knew I could jump into any of the groups but I didn’t want to burn up the course. I wanted to relax, have fun, and save something for the last climb of the day.

We blew by the first rest stop which was at the bottom of a descent. When you’re flying who wants to brake? But the organizers have to take what space is allocated to them to set up on our behalf even it it is at the bottom of a hill.

The first 24 miles were basically rollers with a sight climb – 700 feet. That was followed by a 5-mile steep and windy descent which was a pleasant surprise. Thank goodness a volunteer was on a curve urging people to slow down. It was quite technical and I probably would have over cooked the turn. Three ambulances were on their way up the mountain and you get a lump in your throat passing them although I heard it was a car, and not a cyclist, that went off the hill.

The first rest area we stopped at was in New Castle. It had the most port-a-johns and the biggest lines. Here I ran into Dennis McDonald and his son, follow url Matt, who are both going to France this summer with my Trek Travel group. I also ran into Sean Walker.

Later on the road we ended up briefly meeting some younger riders from northern Va. who bought their bikes at The Bike Lane in Burke. I didn’t laugh out loud but one carried a fully loaded back pack. He didn’t know about support on this ride so he carried everything with him. But they were to soon leave us as they stopped at the next rest area and we powered on through.

At Mile 60 the first real climb began at John’s Creek Mountain in Jefferson National Forest. 

Sean Walker
Not Smiling Now

It was a 2.5 mile climb and a nice warm up. There were a few people walking but most were able to will themselves up the hill. On the Blue Ridge Extreme, Vesuvius, a five mile climb, was placed around mile 50, I had cramped and was pleased to know that I made it up this climb without a problem.

enter Gotta work on the climbing form

At mile 72 we turned a corner and a surreal moment occurred. That looked like my van parked in the woods. It was my van parked in the woods. I didn’t realize until I was past that we were back within 1/4 mile of the start and this is where I had parked. We started a 13 mile loop.

Strangest photo op, which I missed, was passing a house with a dinosaur skeleton on the porch. I should have stopped to shoot it. After the loop we rolled back into Newport at mile 86. After a brief rest stop to fill the water bottles it was the long journey up to the finish. After a bit of a climb it was a nice relaxed descent down to the New River before the real climbing would begin after 100 miles in the saddle.

Getting ready to cross the busy US 460, some volunteers had WATER! and Gummi bears. Mmmm.

Let the climb begin. The last four miles were up to Mountain Lake, which is where Dirty Dancing was filmed.

After 100 miles these legs could keep going on the flats but the climb was formidable. I checked Garmin at times and it was registering 12%. There was a sign at the base “4 Miles to Finish.” I know better at Mount Washington than to look up and here — I looked up.

It looked tough. It was 86 degrees and my sweat was bike dripping off the bike. As I came to one hairpin curve I noticed most of the riders who had passed me two miles earlier were all standing. I went by them. I continued up and there was a rest stop on a curve. I passed it too.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have. I should have taken one last hydration and food opportunity but I don’t like stopping on big climbs once I am underway.

After 20-25 minutes I saw a sign up ahead and thought if it says “3 Miles to Go” I’m going to quit. It said “2 Miles to Go.”

I came to another sharp hairpin and made the fatal mistake — I looked up. All I could see were people stopped or walking their bikes. One guy had his shoes off and was walking. In his socks.

I was out of energy. The legs just wouldn’t turn over the pedals. They needed a rest. I dismounted for a couple hundred yards then got back on. I made it to the top and was only slightly disappointed that I had dismounted once. It was never one of my goals to stop or walk on the climb but I got thinking just how much having the surgery took out of me. I can still use that as an excuse a little while longer.

Paul Spencer and Klara Varady

I was most disappointed in my time. I had hoped for under 8 hours even though this was four miles further than a comparable century ride that I had done before. But when times were posted I could see that I was just below the 50% line. Some of these riders are mountain goats and young – I am neither. And I wonder how much surgery and being old, or both, took out of me.

Just two years ago I did the Blue Ridge Extreme Century and finished 3rd from the bottom. Wow. This was better. Much better.

And while my time was 8:48, I spent 73 minutes off the bike. If I had made my rest stops quicker, say 20 minutes total, my total time would have been under 8 hours. Something to think about if I do this ride again.

Here is the one reason I may not came at the end of the day. We were transported off the mountain in 15-passengers vans and we had the driver from hell. He gunned it down whatever straight section he could find, twice had a front tire go off the road, and braked hard into curves. It was a scary ride off the mountain and will keep me from participating again if this is normal. I didn’t defeat cancer only to lose my life in a van after a great day of riding.

EPILOGUE – After I got back I wrote to the event director because our ride down the mountain was so dangerous. They had contracted with the Boys Scouts, who were in charge of the transportation, and were shocked themselves. They had heard similar complaint from various sources. They will correct this problem. It was a great ride.


Also, one can ride back down the mountain which seems the way to go. No messing with transporting bikes. I waited at least another 30 minutes at Newport for my bike to come back down.

Close Encounter of the Furry Kind

CHARLES TOWN, WEST VIRGINIA

Is there anything quite as scary as having a deer jump out in front of your car? Well, yes there is. Having a deer jump out in front of your bike.

Even if it wasn’t raining, the roads were wet from the hard overnight rain that fell. But I had gone one mile when the rain started to fall. Oh well. A ride in the rain is better than sitting on the sofa.

I followed Country Club Road to Flowing Springs and then to Job Corps Road. I was just getting some speed up and out of nowhere (actually it had to be out of somewhere) a deer jumped right in front of me. I was riding head down with my hands on the “hoods” and had no time to brake. Probably best. If I had panicked and touched the brakes on the wet roads I may have wiped out anyhow. Instead I steered through it. And let out a scream. A manly scream.

I think it missed it by less than six inches. What a scare! That was followed by an adrenalin rush.

What a scary moment. A lot of “what ifs”played through my mind including what if I had collided and crashed? And I remembered that I didn’t have my Road ID on these shoes nor was I carrying my Jimi Wallet with my ID in it. I might be sprawled along side this lightly traveled road, and if unconscious, no one would know who I was.

Surely the deer was scared too. It actually did not bolt straight across in front of me but took a jump forward in the direction I was traveling. I think its forward momentum made me avoid it.

Most of the rest of the ride was spent thinking about my near collision.

go here Railroad Bridge at Harpers Ferry

My three-state ride took me to Harpers Ferry, across the railroad bridge, to the C&O Canal Tow Path. And that brought back pleasant memories. The river was flowing high and the sounds of the white water along with the river smell was enjoyable.

Railroad Bridge at Harpers Ferry

I had to ride on the tow path for about 1/2 mile or so until I came to a foot bridge that crossed over the canal to Sandy Hook Road. I followed that to Brunswick then crossed the 340 Bridge into Virginia.

US 340 bridge between Md. (left) and Va. (right)

I was in Virginia less than two miles then began the climb up Chestnut Hill Road. I know it to be 12% grade but Garmin showed 1%. Teasing me, I guess. Earlier I was on 340 on a 6-7% grade and it showed 44%. Even Garmin has a bad day.

I reached Route 9, followed it back to Cattrell Road and back to Bethany’s. Once I got over the scare of the close encounter of the furry kind I could sit back and relish my rainy 31 mile, three-state ride.

Almost Meeting Lance

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA

Checking in, I was assigned at the “center of the intersection” of 2nd and B Street. I looked at the route map and saw that that was one block from the route in any direction. I was disappointed at first but Adam Bridge, the coordinator, called it a super location. And he was right.

It was right beside the USA Bicycling Hall of Fame and a block from the start line. But the location didn’t make it great – the assignment did. There were three sawhorse barriers and three traffic cones blocking the street. Our job, working with a security guy, “Mike,” from St. Louis, was not to allow any vehicles other than team vehicles to enter the street. We got to direct all the team buses, vans, and cars, except for Team Radio Shack, to park on this street.

USA Bicycling Hall of Fame

One by one we directed each team down the street until the street was full. Then we were done with one hour to go before the start of the race.

Davis is the self-proclaimed bicycling capital of the U.S. And not necessarily self-proclaimed. Bicycling magazine, the League of American Bicyclists, and maybe others have bestowed this upon the community. Bikes are everywhere. The city’s sign features a bike on either side.

But where are the helmets? Almost every rider I saw in Davis was forgetting the $39 piece of fiberglass that will help protect their head when they have the accident. While embracing the bike culture they seemingly snubbed their noses at protection. It was a little strange.

There were very few vendors set up in Davis which was disappointing. But we found the Radio Shack bus and decided to stand 5-6 deep watching for Lance Armstrong to come out. Around 10:30 he came out and was besieged with autograph seekers. There was a fenced barrier and people were orderly and I believe he signed everything handed to him.

Three-time defending champ, Levi Leipheimer

He got lost in the sea of people and disappeared, I’m guessing he went for a quick spin. Most of the crowd dissipated and we waited to see Levi Leiphiemer, Chris Horner, Johann Bruynell and others.

Three kids who didn’t get their chance to get an autograph were invited inside the security barrier by someone with Team Radio Shack and stood outside the bus door when Lance came back from his quick spin. After a minute or so, the door opened and the three of them went in the bus. They came out a couple of minutes later wearing autographed Team Radio Shack hats and grins from ear to ear.

Lance – No telephoto lens needed

There was only a few minutes before start time when Lance came out the second time. No one could blame him for dismissing everyone because he had to go but he again walked the line signing anything put before him. I gave him my Ride Against Cancer card and asked him to carry that with him today. He obviously knew that it would get soaked and destroyed so he handed to an assistant, probably with instructions to make a sizable donation to the cause (he writes, tongue in cheek).

Lance then left, made it to the start, and we had a few minutes left. The gun went off and the peloton did a ceremonial neutralized lap and came back through the start chute. Then they were off. And I was ready to say goodbye to the Tour of California for another year.

The first four years the ATOC was held in February. But last year featured a week of cold, windy, rainy weather and they moved the race to avoid cold, windy, rainy weather. But in Davis it was overcast and 60 degrees with a forecast of rain.

I also came to California to go riding and was initially headed to San Francisco. But as I drove the weather got worse. I was driving into continual rain and the temperature dropped. No need for me to be riding in that. My next trip across the Golden Gate Bridge would have to wait for another time.

I had previewed the stage but really didn’t know where it was going. I remembered Yountville and entered that into the Garmin. When I reached Yountville I continued and thought they would head up Oakville Grade Road. I was hoping I would see it and figured I would come up to an intersection heavily paroled by the California Highway Patrol. And I did.

I turned left on the mountain road and immediately started climbing in the car. Wipers on, it was cold and rainy here. I surveyed a place to pull over and didn’t see any. Everywhere I saw a pull-off it was already taken by other vehicles.

I passed the third King of the Mountains check point on Oakville Grade Road and knew there was a descent and another KOM up ahead. I was one kilometer from the summit of the second KOM on Trinity Road when I saw a driveway to a gated house. I parked the car in the driveway. The police were shutting down the road so even if the owner wanted out they weren’t going anywhere.

Besides, I was beside another car which had parked there. Its owner came back and we talked for about 20 minutes before hearing the “whoop” of a distant police siren. My friend, a former Belgian cyclist now living in Vegas was following the Tour every day. We talked about cycling but also about Floyd Landis. He was adamant that Floyd was clean and the French set him up, not wanting another American to win. Interesting.

Once the police started coming through I got out in the same miserable wet weather I didn’t want to ride in. I went down the road about 200 meters to where the peloton would come through the last of some switchbacks on this climb.

I stood beside two cyclists just off the surface of the road. They had ridden from Davis. I don’t know if they followed the same route but hopefully something more direct. They left at 7:30 a.m. and the time was around 2:00 p.m. They were both shivering which confirmed my decision not to ride today.

Two leaders were in a breakaway but after they passed us 30 seconds behind came the train of Team Radio Shack. There were five guys in the front with Levi on third wheel and Lance on fourth. And they were marked by Garmin-Transitions.

Levi Leipheimer on 3rd Wheel, Lance on 4th

Wave after wave of riders came by as this climb broke the field apart. Halfway through http://sacredsourcework.com/?professional-custom-essay George Hincapie came through drafting the BMC car. He pulled alongside the car and I watched as he took a “turbo bottle.” I laughed.

George Hincapie

There were no race referees in sight and I suppose, if the cameras caught it, they do use some form of video review. But the cameras weren’t there either. And it made me wonder how the peloton patrols and monitors each other. George is on the downside of his career and universally respected. I’m guessing that a temporary boost from a turbo bottle is a right earned after riding in the peloton so many years. Some rookie might not get away with it but George could. If it happened at all that is (wink).

About 17 minutes down came the yellow jersey of blank Mark Cavendish. But he was joined by perhaps 30 other riders. They formed the “autobus” (grupetto) which consists of the sprinters, other riders who can’t just fly over the mountains, and anyone having a bad day. One can be eliminated at the end of the day on time but not if 30 riders are together and outside the time limit. So for this stage they all form up and stay together.

“Grupetto” led by the Yellow Jersey, Mark Cavendish

About 3-4 minutes after them one last lonely rider, follow Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly) made his way up the hill. Boy can I empathize with him. Cold, wet, and miserable – sometimes the legs just don’t have it and you pull yourself inside out to get over the next hill. Sean had already been eliminated on time but refused to get in the Broom Wagon, instead he rode the entire route by himself. Then was eliminated.

My time at the Tour was great. Getting to help out the tour in the morning at Davis then having the freedom to move to another location as a fan made it worthwhile. I had thought about volunteering for a week but will have to rethink whether I want to spend a week working all day long or simply volunteer for a couple of stages. This seemed about right.

This was also an excellent decision because I hadn’t realized until Sunday that I’m not as far along in my recovery as I believed. As Dr. Mostwin told me last month, I still have 18 months of healing left and I now know he was right.

Epilogue – Just two days later, the first of many emails of Floyd’s were made public. He admitted to using performance enhancing drugs through most of his career. Very disappointing. Although he stands by his denial that he never used testosterone.

On my return flight I flew from Oakland to Phoenix on the first leg. I met Paul Mittman, President/CEO of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine who used an upgrade for me to sit in first class. Thanks Paul!

Amgen Tour of California

SACRAMENTO, CA


Last year I came to Sacramento to volunteer for the Amgen Tour of California. I had a great, even an amazing, experience, and returning this year was one of my post-cancer treatment goals.

After last year’s event I was in contact with Medalist Sports for a week-long position traveling with the Tour. In February I was contacted by them but respectfully declined as I didn’t know whether I would be recovered enough for the demands of the job. But I still wanted to help and going to Sacramento would be the first step.

I arrived at the volunteer check-in location before anyone else including the coordinator., page Gail Keeter, When she arrived she made it known that being first didn’t mean getting the best location, which would be downtown on the inner circuit which they passed three times. I guess that if the “best” assignments were for those who got there first, there would be a rush to be first in line. This was probably conveyed to those who could attend the orientation meeting, which I couldn’t do.

So I went for a walk. A long walk. A two-hour walk along the bike path which is beside the Sacramento River. When I got back there was a check-in line formed and I was deep enough in line, I guess, to get a downtown location. One problem though, while it was “downtown” it wasn’t on the finishing circuit.

A replica of the Golden Gate Bridge across the Sacramento River – for cyclists

It was at 30th and Folsom Blvd. and I was to guard the exit from the parking lot of the KFC/A&W restaurant. Across the street was volunteer Tamy Quiqley, from Redding, California, who was dutifully patrolling the empty parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank.

With more than 90 minutes before our required reporting time, we decided to walk downtown to the finish. We were able to watch the last six laps of the women’s criterium, won by 17-year old Coryn Rivera. She won the junior group at USA Cycling Nationals two years ago at Seven Springs, Pa., which I also marshaled.

When we returned to our posts a policeman was just finishing taping off the entrances with yellow police tape. And she told us she was assigning junior rangers to assist there. When asked if we should stay there she told us we weren’t needed.

So we then set out to get to the downtown finishing circuit to “help.” We found the corner of N and 15th Streets and started helping the marshals on site. With a phone call or two to friends watching, we could tell the spectators the ETA of the peloton.

Eventually the helicopter arrived overhead and we knew the riders were down below. Two blocks up from us they flew through the finish line at the start of Lap 1. About one minute later they bore down on us.

When you ride you know you’re fighting, or pushing the wind. But one doesn’t realize the extent until you stand downwind from the peloton. When they were about 25 meters from our location a wall of wind hit us in the face. They made the 90 degree turn, at our location, but would not be so lucky at some other locations. Two major crashes knocked out a number of riders and neutralized the racing on the final two laps, except for overall time bonuses for the first three positions.

Peloton charging hard into the corner

One worries not only about the riders cornering safely but also the cars. These drivers are part dare-devils and many squeal their tires as they corner much too fast for the normal person.

Mark Cavendish’s HTC-Columbia Team formed the perfect lead-out train and he stayed on their wheels the next two times they flew by our location. After the last rider passed we ran two blocks to the L street where they were flying by to the finish but missed the lead-out train delivering the Manx Rocket to the finish line. We did see the middle and end riders come in, all with the same time since the peloton had been together when they crashed.

George Hincapie

If you can limp on a bike, a number of a latter riders came limping on in. One rider from Cervelo Test Team had his entire left thigh bloodied and exposed. George Hincapie didn’t show quite the same road rash but wasn’t feeling too well either.

Believe this is Heinrich Haussler. Ouch.

We tried to get to the podium and could see a corner of it but the crowds were too large. One gentleman asked us who won and we told him Mark Cavendish. He said “who?” “But how did Lance (Armstrong) do?” And maybe more than 50% of the spectators fit that category. They came to see Lance and he was supposed to win. But it’s always fun talking cycling with the spectators.

It was a long but rewarding day. Glad to be back in California.

Going Bonkers

WOODBRIDGE, VA

Oh the importance of keeping the body properly fueled. I’ve watched pro races where someone is leading and near the end they just ran out of energy. You find out later they “forgot to eat” which sounds ridiculous but often you’re not “hungry” while on the bike but still must remember to eat.

I don’t have such an excuse. I forgot to eat even when I was hungry. My breakfast consisted of a 6 oz. Yoplait yogurt. And that’s it.

My normal lunchtime routine is not to eat lunch but to play Ultimate Frisbee instead. Today was beautiful so we played longer than normal. But I have been trying to figure out the nutritional aspect of eating before refereeing soccer, especially when I officiate the double headers that start at 5:30 and 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. On those days I eat a lunch around 2:00 p.m. which seems to be just about right.

Today I should have done the same. But I didn’t. I was in a hurry to get some projects finished and I wanted to leave early so I decided to forgo lunch.

Although I tired to leave around 3:30 p.m. by the time it was “wheels down” it was almost 4:00 p.m. I didn’t leave early.

My route took me across the 14th Street Bridge, down the Mt. Vernon Trail to the Four Mile Run Trail. The last time I was on Four Mile Run Trail was 2001 when go to link Andrew and I started our ride to Pittsburgh. Then we had to ride through a neighborhood in Shirlington and follow a pedestrian overpass that crossed I-395.

The new Four Mile Run trail actually goes under I-395 which is both shorter and less prone to getting lost. That was pretty cool. And it connects with the W&OD in Shirlington at its terminus.

My average speed won’t show it as there are a lot of stops along the way where the W&OD crosses streets and highways, but when I was moving I was going pretty good. In fact, I counted that I passed 21 cyclists and none passed me on this day.

A new route off Guinea Road in Fairfax took me to Olley Lane then to Burke Lake Road and Lee Chapel Road. There I stopped in at The Bike Lane, used the bathroom and refilled my water bottles. I was looking at the Gu but didn’t buy any. I should have.

Once I got back on the road I felt it. I was out of fuel. Zapped. Depleted.

I made it to Occoquan and stopped at a coffee shop looking for a candy bar. The best they had was a small bad of Cheetos. I bought them.

Tanyard Hill Road is a narrow curved road out of Occoquan which I still had to climb. It is 0.7 to the top of the road plus another 0.2 of climbing on Old Bridge Road. Almost a mile climb at 5%-5.5% grade. In contrast, our Saturday morning rides feature Bird Neck Road which is only a quarter of a mile but at 7.5%. But neither of these is Mount Washington which is 7.6 miles at 12% grade.

At the top of the climb was a gas station which had an eating area inside. Healthy, I say. I took my bike inside and found a king sized Snickers candy bar. I sat and ate that and refueled just enough. Snickers are awesome! That gave me the boost to safely navigate Minnieville Road and make it home.

Running out of fuel is awful. Such a strange feeling knowing that some days you’re still pedaling fast after 50 or 60 miles and today after 30 I was on empty. Lesson learned. Eat lunch before a 40 mile ride.

Beware the Hairy Legged Monsters

NOKESVILLE, VIRGINIA
Yesterday was the “shop” ride out of The Bike Lane in Reston. It was an enjoyable day and ride until…
…until we turned on Lawyers Road. We’re never on Lawyers Road long and tend to single file on the side of the road once we sort it out. Yesterday we were still in a double line. We were doing 20 mph. Kelley Noonan was beside me when the rider in front of her inexplicably veered sharply to the left. By braking, his rear wheel took out her front wheel and she crashed hard. I heard that another rider flew over top of her.
So stupid!
Riding is fun and riding in a group is more fun but one must be careful and ever vigilant, sometimes for hours. We’re not sure of the person’s name who caused this crash. We heard he was on his first group ride. Hopefully he learned that you don’t make sudden moves while in close quarters in a group. Rather than offer an apology he remarked to Kelley “that was really intense!”
I had State Cup soccer matches to referee in the afternoon and didn’t mind cutting the ride short. Three of us escorted Kelley back to the shop rather than complete the ride.
Today was the Potomac Pedalers Annual Picnic. It was the first one I attended. There were rides for all classifications of riders. The “A,” “BB,” and “B” riders were offered the longest ride of the day — 51 miles. They departed five minutes apart from one another.
I’m thinking I could ride with the “A” riders unless they really ramped up the pace. So I chose to go conservatively and join the BBs.
We started with 20 riders but soon sorted that out to 12. The other eight must have dropped back and joined the B group which was coming. We rode a pace line basically the entire route. Every remaining rider took their turn moving to the front, doing a pull, and then moving over and drifting back to the end of the line.
At mile 20 I found myself in front and did a pull for 3/4 mile then dropped back to the end. Oh my. Was it my fault that three riders dropped during my pull? We were down to nine and stayed that way until we reached the store/rest area. There we would regroup.
We left the rest stop and started slowly. Our 12 dropped down to 10.
Mindful of yesterday’s crash, I was only comfortable following one rider. We joke about the “hairy legged monsters” but shaved legs is often a sign of a competitive or simply a serious rider who knows how to keep tempo and keep his line. Or maybe not. But until you have time to figure this out on a group ride it’s a good starting place.
“Captain America” was the only other rider in our group who shaved. And he knew how to ride. Contrast that to one guy I fell in behind who would pedal furiously, then coast, the pedal hard, then coast, then stand, then coast. It was very difficult following him. My steady tempo would bring me too close when he decided to coast or stand. Plus he didn’t hold his line too well.
As much as a physical exercise, a ride like today’s is also a mental exercise. As some point one feels like they can no longer maintain the pace of the group. And today was a perfect day to “drop” and reintegrate with the riders we dropped or even the B group coming behind us.
Thankfully, I only had to fight that battle in my mind a couple of times. And the last time I was determined not to let it win.
Our 10 stayed together until five miles to go. After a missed turn, we turned into a wall of wind. We all fought to fight the wind and to stay tucked in behind the rider in front. Our pace line stayed together until I moved to the front. I only rode for about half a mile but when I dropped off I was surprised to see that we were down to six and no longer 10.
The last two mile stretch I was gapped by the group. I couldn’t stay with their pace — the one that I set. But I never was more than 50 yards behind and worked my tail off to close the gap and catch back on. As we approached Nokesville Park I had integrated and actually was first one back to the cars.
We went out at 18.7 mph for 27 miles and then returned at 20.2 for the remaining 24 miles. Overall, the 19.4 average was the highest I have averaged on any ride.
This was a big day for me. I didn’t set out to record my fastest pace and the conditions were not right for it with heavy head and cross winds. But after cancer, and with another year under my belt, I did not expect ever to ride faster than I have before. I will take a 19.4 clip over a 50 mile course at any time.