Saturday, May 16, 2009

In A Crowd

This was my fourth Tour de Lions in the past five years, every time doing the max distance. Last year the distance was upped from 60 to 75, and although I made it, it was a struggle, the rear brake dragging for the last 15 miles wasn't a help. My longest ride so far this year had been 53 miles, so there was this nagging question: "Can I really do this?"

Friday night's pre-ride bike inspection and tweak revealed an unexpected problem. There was a flat spot on the rear tire caused a couple of days earlier by a momentary wheel lockup while performing a successful (4) deer avoidance maneuver. It was ground through to the last layer of cords, so there was no way to be comfortable riding on that tire, that far from home. So, off to Greensboro to Performance for TWO new tires, leaving, of course, the newly arrived 10% off coupon on the kitchen table - oh, well.

The new starting point at Providence Grove High School is nice. Lots of parking space and plenty of room inside for registration, and much better restrooms. This year's rider count was up to 400, an increase of 100 over last year's.

I've always ended up doing almost the entire ride alone. This year, though, I was determined to get in a group and stay there. I managed to get in a group of about twenty that was, for the most part, going fast enough for me. Wow, does that make a difference. Since I never ride in a group I had to do some fast learning, like lightly dragging the brakes downhill to stay in line, and just going with the uphill speed, even if I felt I could go faster. The first 20 miles went by in exactly one hour, the fastest I'd ever averaged, anytime, anyplace, helped, no doubt, by the general downhill trend shown in the elevation profile, and I was only pedaling about half the time, and coasting the rest.

By the time we got to the rest stop at 60 miles the group was down to six, all of us taking short turns at the front. Even knowing how much climbing was to come in the last 15 miles, there wasn't any doubt that I could make it. I figured I'd be dropped by the group, but my legs felt good, so I didn't think it would be a problem to finish alone. It turned out, though, the except for one other rider (and he followed me the rest of the way), I dropped the group at the first hill. The other four finished about five or six minutes behind the two of us.

Riding in a group was a revelation, and from now on, I'll do anything I can to get in one and stay in one on rides like that.
It was a great ride, the weather held, and I finished. Not a bad day.

Some stats:
75.77 miles
17.7 mph average
4:16:24 riding time
37.6 mph max speed
3102 feet total ascent
8% max grade
5144 calories burned.
I'll do it again next year - maybe faster?
Think I'll take today off and do some much needed bike maintenance and some gardening.

1 comment:

Glenn_in_MA said...

Congrats...great stats! It's always nice when everything comes together for a great ride.