The alarm went off at 5:30am. I was only about half excited. It had been a while since I had gotten up this early for an event and I was not thrilled. But I was up for the challenge. I got some coffee and ate some breakfast. Getting my nutrition in order for the day took a lot less time and thought. For this stage in my cycling life, I have it dialed. I know how much I need to consume for a ride. That really simplifies and takes the guess work out of it. I always bring a little extra though.
I got ready while the wife and kid hung out. Rolling up to the start line, I lacked the nervousness that I have experienced in the past. I knew what I could do, and I knew how to do it. I was relaxed, ready to get going. My only concern was that I would have some leftover fatigue from the Thursday night ride.
After the riders meeting, we rolled out and the pace got pretty fast pretty quick. The first 20 miles of the course had been changed and I didn't know what to expect.
I rode alone for most of the rest of the ride. Occasionally getting in with a small group on the flats. The next 20 or so miles was a great mixture of steady climbing, twisty descents and some flats. After the next aid station got in a 3 person train with Marcus from Carolina Fatz and another Fatz rider. We rode well together and rotated through a small paceline, pulling each other to the next climb.
Cruising down into the valley, keeping a good pace, all alone, I didn't see anyone behind me. As I started the climb to Sam's Gap, I spotted a person about 1/4 to 1/2 mile back. This became my incentive to keep a steady pace. I usually get passed a lot on this climb. Today would be different. In fact, the only person I saw was the one behind me, who never gained any time on me. I again, stuck to my target HR and although I could have pushed harder at the moment, I knew that I would not feel good later.
I got to the top, where the temps were a lot cooler than they have been in the past. I was feeling really hungry so I grabbed a Coke from my SAG team, filled my bottles, ate a Honey Stinger gel and took off, hitting 45 mph on the decent.
At the bottom, a guy named Jason caught me and we road together for about 10 miles. It was nice to have someone to work with through this section. It made it go by a lot faster than riding alone. He said he was not feeling great, so I offered him my Coke. He was grateful. On the last stretch into town I picked up the pace. Any other day, I'm sure he could have stayed with me or even dropped me, but today he didn't have it. I saw to riders ahead and went on the prowl. Catching them and passing them I greeted and smiled. They counter attacked and I sat on a wheel. Two little grunts left before descending into town. The first one we rode together. Near the top of the second one I smiled and put in an attack, one guy groaned. I got a good gap and put the hammer down. I could see that they were trying to catch me, so I kept the pedals turning.
65 miles, 4hr 7mins.
Have a great day.