Friday evening around 5pm the UPS guy finally brought the bike. Thanks to all of the people who helped me win this bike that I would not have otherwise. Now I had a decision to make. Get it built up and ride it for the Fletcher Flyer on Sunday, or ride my Bianchi. I had a goal of a sub 5 hr ride, and was concerned about the myriad of things that could happen by riding new equipment. You just never know.
So, I took the bike to Liberty Bicycles and we set to the task. Some heckled and some helped, but thanks to the guidance of David Wood, we got the thing build and ready to roll. When I got home at 7:30pm, it was still light so I kitted up and rolled out. 4 miles around the neighborhood, some minor adjustments, and I was feeling good. I go home and put it out to my FB friends. The Foundry or the Bianchi? 100% said the Foundry, so I rolled with it. It is what I wanted to do deep down anyway, and I tend to live on the edge. Par for the course.
So, after another short ride on Saturday, I rolled out Sunday with 900 friends to ride around the flattest course in WNC.
I kept a steady, mellow pace and was surprised that the fast guys/gals in the front were not going hard yet. I was within reach of my goal but still had 85 miles to go. We rolled past Smiley's Flea Market and the down Rugby road. When we made the turn past rest stop two, I made a decision that would make my goal more difficult to reach. I stopped for water. But, I drink a lot of water, and knew that if I ran out, I might not finish, so I stopped and the group rolled on.
I got a quick refill and pedaled on, fairly soon a small group caught me and though there was some surging, I decided to stay with the group to conserve energy. While friendly, this group was just below my personal skill level, so I would pull for a while, drop back while our pace slowed, rest up, then pull the group up to my pace again. At rest stop 3, I filled up quickly and pulled out. That is when I met Mike. He moved here from Idaho last March and is getting used to riding in the mountains. We didn't talk much as I was on a mission, and he was convinced that if we pedaled faster, we could catch the fast group..... he didn't know the likes of Wes Dickson, the Pisgah crew, and Chris Strout
were in that group. It was nice to be riding with someone of similar skill level and we put our heads down and pedaled. We traded pulls evenly, each taking long pulls until we found ourselves back in downtown Brevard.
Crap, we missed the turn. We wasted about 5-10 minutes trying to figure out where we were, and finally got back on course. I would later find out that as we had been in no man's land for a while between fast groups, the fast groups behind us, got past us while we were lost. We finally got back to rest stop 4, filled water bottles and got going.
After a few minutes, we were joined by a handful of other guys, again, a group that was just below my target pace, but better than being alone. I ended up on the front a lot, spending more valuable energy, but I went with it and conserved energy when I could.
The weather could not have been better, ok, maybe 5 degrees cooler, and the service at the rest stops was excellent. I was able to get in and get out, and by the end of the ride, only accumulated 9 minutes stoppage time.
Rest stop 5 I filled one bottle with Claudia's sweet tea, found a tree, then got going again. The group I was with lingered so I sat up for a few minutes so I would have some help on the flats coming up.
The group was starting to get tired and it showed. People would sit up, not pull through, look around as if setting up for a sprint... grrr. Such a simple concept of pulling through, yet so difficult to execute. I guess it is easier to take a free ride.
Rest stop 6 came up and I stopped for a handful of potato chips. Combined with the sweet tea, the salty chips and being on part of the Thursday night ride loop, I put my head down and went for it. A brief draft behind a motorcycle some green lights and I was on the home stretch. I put my head down and pedaled hard. I had paced myself well and felt good enough to drop my riding buddies and head for the finish alone.
At the finish, Rhonda and the kid were waiting for me, the kid riding across the line with me. Fun times.
My total time as 5h 20 m, with only 9 minutes off the bike. I'm sure with some more help, I could have broken the 5 hr mark. Maybe next year!