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When 75% is Still an Accomplishment: Part 2

by on October 7, 2012

The Goal: 310 miles on 3 back to back rides

The Reality: 235 miles on 2 back to back rides

The Story: Worth telling, and you are welcome to read it.  The ride was long … so is the report.  Part 1 is available by clicking here.

Part 2 of this ride really begins when we arrived at my daughter’s house.  I had called her from the WAWA (at 4 am) and let her know we were on our way.  We arrived about 10 minutes later, and she and her husband bustled us into our sleeping quarters and we were soon sawing logs.  The plan was to wake at 6, eat breakfast, then meet up with Alex for the Seagull at 7.  That plan worked better than we expected.  I slept about an hour.  We had what the others later called a gourmet breakfast.  Egg & cheese on an English Muffin, coffee, juice, banana, and banana bread.  It really hit the spot.

We called Alex who had agreed earlier to help “pull” on the ride and arranged a meet up spot, and soon we were on our way.

The Seagull Century is a large, well supported ride, with about 8,000 cyclists.  There are 2-100 mile routes and 1-100k route.  Novices and racing teams alike participate.  We started at 7:00 and stayed near the front of the main field.  We were feeling good and strong and our pace showed it.  I have my Garmin set so that it records my average speed for each 5 mile “lap”.  Early in the ride, my data shows these 4 consecutive 5 mile average speeds: 20.3, 22, 20.3, 20.3.  That’s an average speed of 20.7 mph for 20 miles.  I loved the speed, but it was certainly draining.

There was a discussion early in the ride about whether or not we would skip any rest stops.  We voted to stop at them all.  It was a nice way to break up the ride and to keep fueling since we were already running deficient.  The rest stops were at 25, 42, 62, & 82 miles, and I personally appreciated every one of them.

The Seagull Century has about 3 lanes of traffic.  On the far right are the slower riders.  On their left is the general passing lane.  On the far left is the lane for the very fast groups.  We spent most of our time in the middle lane.  It was a real confidence booster to have ridden 150 miles and still be passing people consistently.

The Seagull Century was an absolute blast for about the first half.  There aren’t many stories from that half because it went by fast and was so much fun.  I was eating and drinking well and my energy level was high.  Everyone else seemed to be doing pretty well too.  It became more of an effort at about mile 55 as the winds picked up and decided to blow into our faces.  We expect this as we approach Assateague Island, but it is always unwelcome.  We hit the Rest Stop on Assateague ready for some more food.  They had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and other goodies.  I took my lead from some others and chowed down two sandwiches and fruit.  We stood around and talked some, then finally, after a longer than usual respite, hit the bathrooms and pushed off.  We saw only 2 ponies grazing by the side of the road and tried to pick the pace back up to where we had been.

I say tried, because a series of unfortunate events occurred.  First, I noticed that my stomach was not happy with my food choices at the rest stop.  I even thought about pulling over to throw up.  Mohammed had the worst of it.  He was “bonking” bad, and in fact had some symptoms of heat stroke.  Within 5 miles, he admitted that he couldn’t ride any longer, and we stopped in some shade to help him cool down.  Clint and Alex had already gone ahead, so I texted them to let them know what was going on.  After a few minutes of rest, we started out again and Mohammed could only keep a pace of about 13-15 mph going.  The wind was continuing to build in our faces, making the effort even greater.  Somehow we were able to drag him to the next Rest Stop, but not before attempting to convince him to take the sag wagon or some other way to abandon the ride.  At the Rest Stop, most of my attention was directed toward making sure I got ice cream, and making sure we cooled Mohammed down.  I got him some ice (half of which he promptly gave away <grrr>) to use on his head and neck.  I got him to the first aid tent where he got some electrolytes.  I convinced him to lay down in the shade where he was.  All these techniques helped, and he climbed back on the bike somewhat refreshed.

He needed it.  By now, the wind was brutal for the last 15 miles.  Flags were standing straight out.  It was almost always in our faces.  I pulled long and steady into that wind, feeling strong, but not feeling fast.  (I wanted to have had more rest at the rest stop and was quietly fuming about that.)  I think it was near this time when we suggested to Mohammed that he not ride the last 82 mile leg we had planned.  He agreed.  By this point in time Mike was struggling with the wind and the mental game.  Clint and Alex pulled off fast into the wind and I saw Mike was dropping back.  Not wanting to over do this last leg of this ride, I dropped back and offered what little wind break I could for Mike, encouraging him along the way.  Those last 10 miles are always the longest.

Soon enough though, we were back in town and I suggested to Mike that we ride across the finish side by side.  This was a team effort.  We finished just before 3:00, our last half much slower than the first half.

We were still uncertain about our timing for the 3rd and final leg of the trio of rides.  Mike checked the weather forecast and radar and discovered rapidly falling temperatures, a rain front moving our way, and increasing headwinds all the way home.  With that news, I took a poll of the now 3 remaining riders and none of us raised any objection to staying to have a beer or three instead of riding home into that mess.  Not one of us could find a reason to ride any longer this day.  So, we had a beer or three while we figured out the logistics of getting ourselves and our bikes back to Severna Park.

Remember the cashier at the Shore Shop in Stevensville?  We found her step son, gradually convinced him that we had met his step mother and that he should take our photo and text it to her.  Mike and I made a point to stop in on our way home, and when she saw us her eyes lit up and had to tell us about the text she got with our photos in it.  It was a nice end to a long day.

I did all the wrong things after the ride (sit in one position in a cramped car, no food with my beer, no recovery massage or food intake, limited fluid intake) so I’m stiff and sore 12 hours after the ride.  There are no regrets to not finishing the 310 miles.  It was an audacious goal, and given the right combination of circumstances, entirely possible.  It simply was not possible this time.

It was another great “over the top” SPP ride with some good friends.

235.3 miles at an average speed of 16.9 mph all in under 20 hours.

Hmmm … what is next?

Most of the route, there were a few other extra miles before this ride.

Mike, Clint, & Earl after the decision to end the day of riding.

This Ride: 235.3 miles
Month: 305.1 miles
2012: 4,664.8 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 18,518.4 miles




From → Cycling

One Comment
  1. Nicely done. I suppose you reach a point when you say to yourself, “I know I could do this, but I’m not sure WHY I would do it.” Glad to see common sense prevailed. You didn’t mention how the new bag worked out (or if you did, I missed it). Any initial impressions?

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