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OC11 Weekend (Part 2)

by on November 1, 2010

This post is about Day 2 of the OC11 weekend.  Day 1 can be found here.

Sunday morning we awoke to another pretty fall day, this time just a block from the Atlantic Ocean.  It was 58 degrees at 5:30 when I checked, and I couldn’t believe our luck.  This is as warm as the high for the previous day!  I remembered to check the wind.  It was currently 13 mph from the west, and forecast to be 20 mph from the west to northwest.  That was our direction for the return.  We would be bucking a headwind the whole ride back.

Calculation of riding clothing needs, appropriate prep work, and soon I was downstairs ready to ride, but first, breakfast.  We ate at Denny’s with relatively slow and poor service, and terrible confusion trying to pay the tab. Maybe it was the Halloween costumes some of us wore.  Clint was decked out in a Superman costume complete with cape and impressive abs.  Brian wore a Count Dracula costume, with frilly shirt, high collar, cuffs, and a cape.  Randy wore psychedelic tights.  All of this made my huge polka-dotted bow tie and long pink hair extensions the amateur costume it was.

When we finally got the bill settled up and climbed on the bikes for departure (after the obligatory photographs) Brian discovered his rear tire flat.   It had been full before breakfast.  A quick tire change, and now the 12 riders on this leg were on our way.  Except that John received a phone call.  Janet was calling to inform him that the SAG van keys were locked inside the SAG van.  We stopped.  We waited.  Eventually we rode back to the hotel to discover that they had to “break into” the van to get the keys.  Now we were on our way.

We traveled north on Coastal Highway amazed at how the flags were standing straight out from the poles with a steady hard wind from the west.  There wasn’t the lively conversation of the previous morning.  We simply set a quick pace north to the left turn 8.5 miles up the road.  As we made the turn, the change in effort was like climbing a hill.  We were still in a populated area, so the wind was quite variable.  We also were gathering a lot of stares and honks (we hope it was the costumes).  Soon, someone picked up a nail, flatting.  We were 10 miles into the ride and were hoping that the early experience was not predictive of the rest.

I felt good through about 45 miles.  Drafting was essential.  I think I learned more about drafting on this ride than any other ride I’ve been on.  I told someone at the end of the ride that I don’t remember much of the scenery of the ride except the cassette and rear hub of the bike in front of me.  After these kinds of rides, you can recognize someone from the waist down behind them.  I think it was about 45 miles in that Clint started checking on me, asking how I was doing.  We had one quick break by then, and had about 10 miles to go to the lunch stop.  I first responded that I was doing fine.  By mile 50 I was admitting that I was pretty tired, but with the lunch stop minutes ahead, I simply dismissed it expecting that the break would be refreshing.

Once again, lunch was quite interesting.  It was Sunday morning, a little after noon, at Jimmy’s, a popular restaurant on the  outskirts of Bridgeville.  It was full of the “after church” crowd and families packed around the tables.  We come filing in wearing our club kits and costumes, to our reserved and waiting table and every eye in the place was on us.  We were curiosities intruding on the routine ways of a small town community.  The comments I overheard ranged from surprise to outright hostility.  Service was slower than we would like, but then, this wasn’t Dave’s Place with called in orders, and they squeezed us into an already packed house.  Their pies looked amazing.  As we waited for everyone to pay their check, there were several lengthy conversations with people outside who wanted to learn more about this crazy bunch of guys in spandex.

Hydrated, fed, and stiff, we got back onto the bikes anticipating a little slower than usual pace because of the meal.  Within a few miles, we were headed northwest, right into the teeth of the headwind.  We kept seeing detour signs ahead, and gave them no regard, until the road was blocked by road closed signs.  After a little conversation, we decided to go through the barriers and take a chance that we could get through.  We were lucky.  We had to negotiate about 20 yards of unpaved road, duck under the bucket of a large backhoe, and then we were once again on our way.  It was an interesting diversion from the wind.

I wasn’t feeling particularly strong or refreshed.  Within about 15 miles, I was doing everything I could to hang on to the wheel in front of me, knowing that if I dropped off that wheel, getting back on required the whole group to slow down, or a domestique to bring me forward.  For the next several miles I struggled hard.  I was “bonking”.  I had a few assists back to the group.  I didn’t dare slow down enough to hydrate or consume a gel pack, and that made it even worse.

By mile 75 I was was ready to quit.  I wondered if I had over extended myself on this ride, whether I had been stupid to think that I could ride with this group, and whether or not I should have been born.  At around mile 77 the group stopped for me, as I rested a minute, consumed a gel pack and water, then we all headed into an unplanned stop at a convenience store about a mile down the road.  There I had a Snickers bar and bought some Gatoraide.  I also downed a couple of eCaps, trying to find the right nutritional/hydration combination that would revive me.  There were plenty of words of encouragement from the group, but I remained skeptical.

Oh me of little faith.  About 5 miles from this rest stop, I started perking up and through the rest of the ride continued to get stronger and more confident.  I made sure I attended to hydration and nutrition, hung on to the wheel of the rider in front of me, and pressed on.  Sure, there were times when assists were still necessary as some of the leaders pressed the pace, but they were few and far between.  I even found myself with the strength to play domestique and pull another rider back into the group on a few occasions.  The headwind was relentless, and you could hear the group breathe sighs of relief when we got a few stretches where the wind was blocked by trees.

For me, the ride took a different turn as we literally turned southwest in Centerville.  Now the wind was not as direct.  Now my energy level had returned.  Now we picked up the pace even more.  This was starting to get fun again.  There was a welcomed rest stop at mile 105.  The sun was getting low in the sky again, so I turned on the flashing headlight.  We successfully crossed the dangerous highways, and I kept waiting for the racehorses to take off again.  I was in the lead group, and we gradually pulled away from the main pack after the road crossing at the Queenstown Outlets.

It was during this final push to the finish when we heard the first “get off the road” shouted from a passing vehicle.  It was during this final push to the finish when we were passed fast by a car with about one foot of clearance on a narrow stretch of road with minimal usable shoulder.

I though the race would start at the bridge over highway 50 or the traffic circle.  Yes the pace increased there, and as I knew I couldn’t hold the faster pace, I was willing to let the group go.  Randy had other ideas.  He assisted me twice in those final couple of miles, and because of that was able to witness the epic race to the finish.

Jeff had sprinted in first at Ocean City and was interested in making it two for two.  He hung on Dan’s wheel until a couple of hundred yards before the finish when he suddenly accelerated past Dan.  Brian, who had been hanging back watching, jumped with Jeff and Dan, reacting more slowly ducked in behind Brian.  Jeff looked like he had the sprint, as he continued down the road, but then, in a tactical move, Brian and Dan pulled into the exit part of the driveway through the parking lot toward the SAG van representing the finish.  (Randy and I were following Dan.)  Jeff looked over his shoulder, saw no one behind him, and eased up just a bit.  Just then, when it was too late, he spotted Brian and Dan off to his left, able to take a tighter turn, and Brian crossed the line just ahead of Jeff.

There was a lot of good-natured ribbing and it took Jeff just a little while to concede.  The race isn’t over until the finish line.  We greeted the other riders as they came in.  Congratulations and thanks were extended to all.  Celebratory beers were popped open and consumed as we loaded up the bikes and some headed home.  Eight of us extended the evening with a trip down the street to Ram’s Head for another beer and a little supper.

This account is the account of my ride.  I’m sure others experienced it differently.  Some might even describe it so differently that one would think that we were on different rides.  Such is the nature of a ride report.

This ride was well organized.  Thanks go to John and Janet who each rode a day, drove the SAG van a day, and made all the arrangements for the ride.  Janet picked the more enjoyable first day to ride.  Thanks also go to Clint & Chip (Chip rode the whole route on a fixie) who kept the entire group of riders in mind rather than only riding their own ride.  Clint rode in the Superman costume and cape the entire ride the second day, and certainly earned the moniker.  I really thank Randy too.  He assisted me a great deal with encouragement and with timely assists.  Randy is a strong rider.  He has ridden the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200k in under 70 hours.  He will be riding RAAM next summer (California to Annapolis in less than 9 days).  The helpful experience of these riders counts for so much on a ride like this, especially for those of us still in the steep learning curve.

This ride was a significant accomplishment in my brief riding experience.  I never would have believed this was possible last January when I first decided to ride regularly and set as my goal for the year the completion of a Century Ride.  I logged 3 Centuries in October, two of them back to back on consecutive days.  My family, especially my children are amazed that this old man can do this thing.  I’ve got to say … I’m also amazed.

What’s next?  I intend to ride through the winter … outdoors.  The next distance goal is a 200k (about 125 miles), which would put me in at the minimum distance of Randonneuring.

I hope to post some links to photos later.  I didn’t take many myself, but other riders did.

From → Cycling

One Comment
  1. Steve permalink

    Congratulations and thanks for the great report! I gotta admit, when you told me you fell, it made this noob smile! 🙂 I think I could have hung with your group on Day 1, with the wind at my back. Day 2 would have crushed me. Your perseverence is impressive. It sounds like you have a great group to ride with. I’m jealous!

    Thanks again for the great story and congratulations on achieving so many goals on this ride!

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