|It nice to be smiling as I cross the finish line!|
I arrived at the start line with plenty of time to get ready. I got changed and rolled to the start to wait.
I joined Chris Strout of Cane Creek Components at the front of the group and we rolled out together. Chatting about life, family and stuff. We got to the first climbs of the day, and I decided to back off the pace. I had hoped for sub 5 hrs, but was not too sure considering the rainy day forecast. So, I backed off.
I rode alone for a while, then was joined by a guy named Joe. We rode together until just before the 1st rest stop where the next group reeled us in. We didn't stop at the rest stop, but I rolled through the parking lot, greeting the folks there with a whoo hoo! I remember seeing Drew Hager, Tom Van Devender, Kent Cranford of Motion Makers and Marty of ProBikes. Sorry if I missed anyone. I was on a mission to get back in with the group. But since they stayed on the road, they were stopped by the stop light and I had a 200 yard gap on them. I decided to go my pace and see if they caught up. It took them a little while but they did. I rode with them until the next rest stop, but it was a frustrating display of what happens when you get a group of 20 guys of all different fitness and skill ranges. Lot's of surging and sketchy riding. About 1 mile from the rest stop, I attacked a little so that I could get in and out. 2 others came with me, and I was refilled and ready to go in no time.
Once again, I rolled out alone, a nice steady eating pace, so I could chew and swallow my PB &J. And then I was rolling through Brevard. Over 40 miles down and still feeling good, but about 10 minutes off of a 5 hr pace. I knew that with the right group, I would be able to bring 5 hrs back on target. After I rolled through Brevard, I was reeled in by a group of 4. They didn't say anything as they passed but I jumped in. This looked like my ticket to the finish line. We worked together well and got a rolling paceline going that ate up the miles. At the next to last rest stop, I had to stop to eat. My body needed some solid food. We all stopped briefly and I grabbed some food. They didn't wait long, and we left together, but they immediately picked up the pace, and I had a mouthful of food with more in my hand. I let them go.
Bruce from Chainheart was with us and he held up a bit for me. I got back with him as David went on up the road, and Walt and the other guy dangled in front of us. Bruce mentioned that he was done, and I concurred. I had not snap left, only endurance pace. We rolled through the out and back, and joked about posing a sprint for the photogs. As we were coming back, I started to feel nauseous, and slowed way down. I mentioned that I needed a Coke and then quit talking. I knew I could still finish, but did not know how long it would take and that was disheartening. But there was nothing to do but pedal. I made it to the Asheville On Bikes rest stop. A girl took my bike and Matt Fusco poured some Coke for me. I made a quick stop of it, with only 10 miles left to go. Sipping on the Coke did not bring immediate returns, but over the next 15 minutes, I started sweating again. Then I was able to maintain a steady pace. About 1 mile from the finish, I was feeling quite a bit better, but held steady. The sub 5 hr was about 10 minutes gone. I rolled across the line with a time of 5h 16 m. My ride time was 5h 12m. Not too shabby.
The rain poured on and off for the first 80 miles, with drying conditions the last 20.
Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and all of the volunteers, including The Bicycle Dealers Assoc of WNC do an amazing job of running this ride and keeping everyone safe. I hope to keep doing this ride yearly. And one day, I hope to break the 5 hr mark. But I know that I'll enjoy it either way!