COCOA VILLAGE, FLORIDA
Quick Thoughts – The registration process stated that the event materials including a T-shirt would be mailed to the riders. I registered two months in advance but never received anything. I had to arrive early today for late registration ready to explain that I never received anything. Turns out they didn’t mail mine. Sigh.
I met a nice young woman who was sitting on the curb 15 minutes before the start time. I convinced her to sit on a bench with me and save her legs. Kristen Reynolds was riding her first Metric Century and was a bit nervous about being able to finish.
Part of me wanted to ride with Kristen to make sure she would finish but I decided to stick with my plan of a full Century ride. At just about 8:00 we all started moving. The event had around 400 riders so it wasn’t too large, unlike a Sea Gull Century which has more than 5,000 riders.
As I rolled out I recognized one of our Roosters from this summer’s trip to Luxembourg. I rode up to Keith but he didn’t know who I was. Strange. Very strange. I rode with Keith for the first 15 miles even catching Kristen who was flying. I was surprised that the split in the two routes came so quickly. I never really said goodbye to Keith or Kristen. They turned right. I turned left. Goodbye.
I turned west on the Century route while a large group I was in went east for the Metric. I was the only one who turned left. I thought I would be riding the rest of the century alone. I was prepared to ride alone. In one mile was the first rest stop. I made a quick pit stop and noticed a group of 5-6 guys getting a group photo taken. I left. Solo.
After departing the stop I may have ridden one mile, at most two, catching one rider when the group I saw minutes earlier passed me by. One rider announced they were passing and told me to jump in. Another said, “Jump in, take a rest and recover, and then take a turn.” I liked the invitation.
After the group passed me I jumped in. I had to judge what type of rotation or pace line they were riding and match it. We went in order with each person pulling off when they were comfortable. There were a couple of short pulls and a couple of long pulls. Their group of five became a group of six. As we passed other riders we grew to about 20 with the six of us doing all the pulling with 14 passengers. There were riders willing to tag on but not become part of our group.
The composition of the group changed when we came to the NASA Causeway Bridge to the Kennedy Space Center. I was at the back hoping to take some photos. When I ride I love to take photos. Sometimes I can do it while riding solo but more often I pull over for a shot. Today I was in a line most of the way and could not capture the views to share with others.
It was flat. Everywhere was flat. But the causeways all were bridges that became hills for those in this area. We came to the “hill” on the NASA Causeway. There was a split in our group and I found myself on the back of the split. I quickly moved past one or two riders to catch the front of our group.
Coming down off the bridge we had a great view of the space center to the left across the Indian River and a canal to the right. I saw an alligator in the canal but could not take a photo.
At the end of the causeway, our group pulled over realizing they dropped Walter. One rider doubled back about one-half mile to see if he was coming but didn’t find him. I later learned that Walter had been off his bike for three years and jumped in today to ride 100 miles. Dumb if that’s what he did. The group waited about 10-12 minutes and then continued on without him.
Walter apparently abandoned and presumably called for a SAG. But no one in our group called him? Maybe they knew him but weren’t necessarily friends with him much as I would be in the Prince William Cycling group. I know a lot of people but I’m not friends with most or have their cell phone numbers. Poor Walter.
Around Mile 60, Herb and I were at the front and we caught another group. In doing so we dropped the other three riders we were with. I was willing to hang on the back of the new group after pulling so much but Herb suggested we wait for his group because “they need us more than we need a free ride.” We waited.
Leaving the third rest stop I wanted to ride faster. And it was a weird situation that I joined a group and rode 45 miles with them but was ready to abandon them. Is that wrong? Twice when their riders were hurting the group stopped so I did too. I was part of the group. But to ride a century the advice is to ride the first third slow, the second third normal, and leave yourself enough in the tank for the last third. I did.
Today I had lots in the tank and wanted to pick up the pace. Every time I was on the front I was constantly looking to see if someone was on my wheel. And often it was one rider with a split. Sometimes it was just me. I slowed down.
At what point do you become part of the group and can’t leave? I could have pedaled away at any point, with or without a word. But I stayed with the group taking turns pulling with those still working.
In the end, we finished together except for Jim who dropped back with three miles to go. And I know Tom appreciated I was pulling my share in the group when he couldn’t contribute. After the ride, he thanked me for pulling. He said he doesn’t normally ride that fast and was just trying to hang on but was very pleased with his average speed for the day. I didn’t tell him that I was always slowing it down to keep them with us.
It was a good day. I started slow to stay in with the Metric riders until they turned. Then I thought I had 85 miles of solo riding ahead of me. The Melbourne Old Cranks (my new name for them) made the ride very interesting and enjoyable. I don’t know how many they had passed and how large of a group they wanted. But they invited me to work with them and that clearly saved my energy. And I was the only one who joined them.
Never say never. I thought this would be a one-and-done ride and it probably was. But I already drew a new route for my personal century ride if I would do this again. I’d follow the Metric ride back to finish, cross the causeway at Cocoa Village then pick up the Century route. It would mean four causeways instead of two, only two miles that are “off course” (crossing the causeway at Cocoa) and a new distance of 107 miles. Sounds awesome. Maybe I’ll be back. I would like that.
SOME ODDS AND ENDS
I monitor my biometrics with the Whoop Band. Without fail, my recovery the night before a big event is always in the red. Today was no exception.
Take it easy. Don’t ride too far today. Yea, right.
I think the mental aspect affects the physical recovery. It’s not like I stayed up all night worrying but just knowing a big effort is required seems to effect me.
At the Eau Gallie Causeway, I heard a piece of metal being hit and landing. It has a distinctive sound. I also knew it was me. I thought for sure that I would have a flat within the next 30-60 seconds but I survived that. Unbeknownst to me was I had a slice in the tire. We were at Mile 79 and had 21 miles to go. None the wiser, I rode on the slice back to the finish line. Pretty impressed by those Continental 5000s.
I should have pulled over and inspected it. Although I had an extra tire with me in my car, I didn’t carry it with me on the ride. I really had no choice regardless. Ride and hope. And carry the SAG number in case I had to stop.
If there was any question as to whether I was part of the group and therefore should not have left them it is this. Jim gave me a shoutout on his Strava (although I’m not from Roanoke).
It was windy. But most of the route was north-south and the winds were consistently ENE, in other words, crosswinds.
I’m still learning Windsock but this graphic shows the wind direction. Crosswinds. It also looks like there was a two-minute penalty for the wind which I guess means with no wind I would have finished two minutes sooner. That seems low to me but it’s fun to think about.