A few hours after this ride and I must say that I’m happy. That wasn’t the case seven hours ago.
I was looking forward to riding with Ben Jones and Brian Moelk in their first century and wanted to set the example of fitness. Instead it was me who had difficulty. Following a cool spring, this was the first test of sweating on a bike and I failed the test.
But, I am reminded by the picture that back of the pace line is still part of the pace line.
We pushed off seven minutes after the start of the ride for century riders depriving ourselves of riding in a pace line. Or in a large group. On a windy day that would have helped.
But we were treated to gorgeous riding skirting Richmond Battlefield Park. Tree covered roads would be the norm for the first 25 miles. We averaged 18 mph for those first 52 miles in windy conditions – mostly cross winds. At times we were on wet roads but not in the rain. We must have just missed some storms.
|On the road while Ben changed his flat|
At Mile 52 we crossed the high bridge over the Chickahominy River. On the climb I cramped briefly and eased up letting Brad and Brian to fly over the top. After a brief lunch at Chickahominy River Park we climbed back over the bridge.
|Bridge over Chickahominy River|
I announced I was going to use the trail instead of the shoulder so that I could stop at the top at take some pictures. While I was honest in stating that, I was also a little concerned that we would hit the climb up the bridge hard and I might cramp. I knew I could soft pedal in the bike lane. It was uneventful until the rest stop at Mile 62.
Once we left the rest stop we had a little bit of rise and I cramped. Big time. I had to dismount and stand. For the next 40 miles I would pedal and, at times, cramp. I was taking on a lot of water and Powerade as I rode but it wasn’t enough.
I had good moments though. Around Mile 90 we were following a guy for about two miles and I felt bad we were wheel sucking. Ben and Brian were content to let me follow their wheels but I came from 4th wheel to the front and pulled. Things worked well for a mile or so until we came to an overpass. It was just enough of a power demand that I cramped again.
I just needed to find my “happy place” where I could pedal without exerting too much effort. And at times, I did. After a brief stop long enough just to foot my feet down. I got back on and regrouped. I went by again and opened up a 100 yard gap as it was the most comfortable pace for me to ride. But eventually they caught me and eventually I cramped.
|Ben Jones, Barry Sherry|
The wind coming back was strong and mostly a head wind. Despite the relative flatness of the course the wind made it a big effort. But the rain which threatened all day, held off. At the end of the day, Ben and Brian finished their first century and we averaged just under 17 mph.
|Ben, Brian, Barry|
What was disappointing and painful for 40 miles ended up being a positive. I fought off quitting and continued on. It’s not the way I wanted to lead my friends but still I was part of the pace line.