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Sweet Sue’s Labor Day Ride

by on September 6, 2010

This Ride: 90.5 miles
Kona Distance: 3,343.3 miles
Month to date: 166.6 miles
2010 Total: 3,809.8 miles
Pace to 5,254.8 mile goal in 2010: (285.5 miles ahead of goal pace)

As today’s ride approached, I was apprehensive.  My plan was to ride with a group from Severna Park/Millersville to the Davidsonville Park & Ride, where we would join the rest of the peloton for the Sweet Sue Ride.  From Davidsonville, the ride is about 60 miles.  From Millersville it is about 90.  I wasn’t sure with the lingering congestion whether or not this would be a good ride or a mistake.

Fourteen riders met in Millersville to begin the ride.  We were a little late getting off, and experienced one crash about 5 miles into the ride when two riders touched tires.  No injuries were reported, and the bikes seemed to be ok, so we pressed on.  Twenty more riders were waiting for us at the Davidsonville Park & Ride.  That meant that with one rider returning early, we had 33 riders, including two tandem bikes.  This is the largest group I’ve ridden with, and also is the largest ride the Severna Park Peloton has put together.  The day was gorgeous.  Temperatures were pleasant most of the day, and the rolling hills of south county were not as challenging as they were on the July 5 ride when it was in the upper 90s.  Clint called ahead to Sweet Sue’s to let them know we were coming and how large a group we were, so the service was pretty good considering the small shop being inundated with a wave of riders.

I was fascinated by the organic nature of the peloton.  At times it would bunch, at times it would stretch out.  Sometimes I found myself very near the front and sometimes very near the back.  People were constantly changing positions, often due to the hills and their ability to power up them or to cling to a little speed going up.  I noticed that I had trouble on the longer hills, with little reserves and still trying to keep the oxygen exchange going.

As I mentioned, Sweet Sue’s did a great job serving the group.  They had a plan, and it seemed to work.  After a group photo on the boardwalk, we launched off again and the whole ride was different.  Right out of the gate, someone had a front flat.  We stopped about three miles down the road to get Gatorade for some of the riders.  It wasn’t long before we had some pretty tough hills.  Clint, on one of the tandems bent a chain link with a poorly timed shift, and  had some trouble for a few miles before getting the link bent back.  We stopped and waited at times for riders to catch up, and we regrouped several times.  The temperatures were coming up and fatigue was hitting some riders.

And then there were those who wanted to press the pace.  Along a short stretch of Highway 2, I picked up the pace to catch some riders out front.  I was cruising at 28 mph trying to catch up.  Traffic cooperated and the leaders bunched up for a few miles, then poured on the speed.  I hung on to the group as long as I could, averaging 22.5 mph for one of my 5 mile “laps” (mile 62.5-67.5).  It wasn’t long before I couldn’t “hang on to the wheel” ahead of me any longer and I dropped off and slowed considerably.  We regrouped near the Park & Ride, and the group split either to cars or for the trip back to Millersville/Severna Park.  We had to wait a while because another rider flatted on one of the last hills of the day. (Not bad for 2400 miles covered by the group today!)

There were some fast stretches on the way back home too.  Thankfully, this was a no-drop ride and several riders came back and picked up some of us who were slower, and eased us back into the group.  Soon, riders were drifting off toward their homes.  Jeff and I rode most of the last few miles together.  He set off to complete 100 miles.  I was done, so I settled for 90.5.

Mike C from church had his longest ride ever today.  His previous best was 55 miles.  That might have been true for Alex also. Congratulations guys!

I tried to use Garmin’s Course routing and found it to be terribly inaccurate and more trouble than it was worth.  I also think that it caused some errors in calculations.  My average speed was listed at 17.9 mph but my moving speed was 21 mph.  There usually isn’t that big a difference.  As I look at the graphs, they suddenly smooth out over the last hour or so.  It was during this time that the Garmin indicated I was off course, then back on course, then off course several times per minute.  It was not working properly.  I also noticed quite some lags in the auto stop and auto resume.  The difference of 45 minutes of moving time and time just doesn’t make much sense.  All of that is to say that even with 17.9 mph average speed, that was my fastest time for anything over 22 miles.  One more little grumble.  Garmin recorded 38 mph maximum speed.  I saw 40.5 on the display coming down the hill on Veteran’s Highway.

Great ride.  Lots of great conversation.  Some challenges and a lot of fun.  A few of  us ended up at Brian Boru’s for a beer, a little food, and more conversation.

Here is the map.

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