I was excited this spring when I realized my life schedule would leave room on the calendar for me to participate in the Fletcher Flyer, the flattest century around with roughly 5000 ft of climbing, put on by the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club. It has been at least 3 yrs since I have done this one and I remember that it was a fun ride.
Sunday morning my alarm went off at 6am and I could not remember why my alarm was going off so early. I ran through a list of options in my head before I knew that today was the day. I got up, and started to get ready: pumping tires, lubing chain, bagel in the toaster. Sipping my coffee and chewing the bagel covered in peanut butter and honey while checking the weather forecast, I found that this was going to be a hot one. I reminded myself to ride within my limits and not go out too hard. I had made that mistake too many times and pushed myself past the limit way too many times.
The wife and kid would be coming out to Fletcher Park to see me finish and I really did not want to have us driving two vehicles out there. I decided that I would ride the 10 miles to the start finish and ride home with them after the event.
The 10 miles was peaceful and cool. There is not much traffic on a Sunday morning and the sun was just barely coming over the ridge line. I enjoyed the warm up, keeping my heartrate low and drinking lots of water.
I arrived at the park, chatted with friends, ran to the trees one last time then rolled to the start to chat with more friends.
It always amazes me how fast these rides start out. There is no money on the line, no king of the mtn, just the possibility of bragging rights and stomping on fellow participants. Either way, I knew that hanging with the fast group, if it was in my limits, would be a free ride for several miles. So, I hung with them. I was pushing my envelope a little bit, but decided to stay with the group until the first rest stop. Most of them did not even stop, but I was out of fluids so I stopped. Motion Makers, Pro Bikes and Youngblood bikes were all there doling out pretzels, water and gatorade. I took some pretzels and water.
Back on the road, the rest of the day is kind of a blurry grind. I was able to get in with another group for the next 20 miles to the next rest stop, where I stopped again to fill up. I remember Craig from Ski Country Sports was there, with some other people, one lady diligently making pb and j's.
Mile 40-60, it seems like we went through Brevard and rode a portion of the Assault on the Carolinas route. Grinding along, I got in with another group and made some good time. I was hoping to get my first sub 6 hr century, and was on par to complete the ride in 5 hrs. I didn't aim for the 5 hr mark, because it was starting to get hot, and I have learned that heat shuts me down. If I let my heartrate get too high in the heat, I wind up in the back of an ambulance with an IV, I know this from experience.
Back through the rest stop with about 80 miles to go. I stopped and quickly refilled my bottles, greeted a couple of friends and hit the road. It was hot and I maintained a steady pace. At one point my thermometer read 99 degrees in the full sun.
I was wearing the new kit from Liberty Bikes, it is Hiuncappie Brand and has some sweet mesh built in. It breathed really well and was comfortable. At times, it felt like air conditioning.
I ground through the out and back section then on to the last rest stop. So many times I have been told by volunteers that "it is all down hill from hear" only to learn that there was another huge climb, I am wary about believing what I hear. so, when Tavis and Rachel told me that there were 10 miles left, I checked and doubled checked that they had their facts straight.
Cool, 10 miles to go. I grabbed a couple of pecan sandies and ground on down the road. I was please after a couple of miles to find that I was on the Thursday night Liberty ride route. I put it in cruise control and ground away. I glanced to the left, upwind, and noticed the industrial sized sprinklers. Then I smelled what smelled like Georgia on a hot summer day. Chicken poop, liquid form being sprayed on the field and the spray drifting across the road. euw....
The last couple of miles I picked up the pace and paid for it. It was hot and my heart rate went too high. I finished but could not enjoy the awesome spread of food at the finish. I loaded up and headed home, lacking appetite due to the heat.
I ended up under 6 hrs, around 5:40. I am proud of that and glad to have a solid ride under my belt.
I look forward to next year!