“The Lone Wolf”
“What the hell am I doing?”
“Just Hanging On”
Titles for this blog entry go racing through my mind.
Wheels down at 8:15 a.m., later than I wanted as the course opened at 7:00 a.m., I headed out of town with little knowledge of where I was going. Although I was handed a cue sheet, I don’t like to use those. Besides, if I got lost I could always program Garmin “back to start.”
I started out on a lonely road and saw no one ahead and no one behind. I figured starting so late I missed any chance to jump into a group. I was resigned that I would ride by myself so I turned around to get a cue sheet then did a 180 and decided to forgo it. I would simply take it slow and enjoy the scenery.
The markings on the road were very small and it is easy to blow past a turn and go for miles waiting for the next mark, which would never come. But I found my first turned and stopped to take a picture of the road and the sign marking – an Amish horse and buggy.
Settling in enjoying the scenery, I came upon an Amish horse and buggy. Or horse and wagon. I respected the driver’s desire not to be photographed and be recognizable by snapping a picture from the distance. From the rear.
Over the next couple miles I passed eight buggies including one charming family of eight. On the back, and they could see me approaching, were two older girls facing backwards on the top bench and three smaller boys sitting one bench down. Up front were dad and mom driving with a baby in between. It was actually pretty cool in an Amish sort of way.
The horse took off on the downhill section, approaching the steep uphill. And I did the same. I was side by side by passing with a wide berth. I didn’t want to scare the horse. Then we hit the 12% grade wall. And I flew by that horse. Ha! (Of course I wasn’t pulling a family of eight.)
Just as I was catching a group of riders, riding a bit too slow for me though, I was passed by the same two riders: John Phillips and his boss, Enrico. I didn’t know who these two guys were and I caught their wheel. I can only imagine that they were wondering why I was hanging on and I wondered if they were trying their best to drop me. They didn’t. Eventually I said I was willing to work and took a couple of pulls. We were in a group of three.
We had ridden the first section at 19+ mph without the benefit of a large group. I was hoping to ride more sensible in the second half.
John and I left the rest break with six other riders and it appeared that we would stay together. But at the first rise in the road about three miles in, John and I pulled away. We weren’t hammering it, just keeping it comfortable.
We made it back, John accomplished his first century ride and said the last 15 miles were the hardest miles he had ever ridden. Funny thing, our bodies. After a summer of long distance riding, it knows how to dole out the energy stores for a 100 mile ride. John’s body simply had never been pushed to that limit and quit around Mile 85.