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The Flèche That Wasn’t

by on April 28, 2014

Team Chain Reaction’s 2014 Flèche will go down in the history books as having more drama than a middle school lunch room.  The riders planned and prepared in ways that would make Boy Scouts envious.  In the end, the team did not officially finish the ride.

The drama:

  1. Team member Fran broke his pelvis in a fall one month away from the ride.  The doctors didn’t give him permission to sit on a bike for 24 hours, and so his ride was done.  Now there were 4 riders.
  2. Your’s truly discovered a fatally cracked bike frame several weeks from the Flèche.  While the warrantied replacement frame traveled across the country other alternative bikes were sought out.  The frame arrived 4 days late, 4 days before the ride.  Bike Doctor put it together 3 days before the ride.  That gave me two days to “dial it in”.
  3. Mike suddenly had bottom bracket issues.  His bike was in for another service one week before the ride.
  4. Jack had sudden last minute shifter issues, and decided to install downtube shifters as his most reliable and quick solution to this mechanical problem.
  5. In the very wee hours of Thursday morning, your’s truly started emptying my GI tract from both ends in violent spasms lasting 4 hours.  The vomiting stopped at daybreak.  The diarrhea was intermittent through Friday night.  It resurfaced within 5 minutes of any food going into my belly Thursday and Friday.  Imodium was an attempt to mitigate this additional challenge.  Needless to say, the bike didn’t get “dialed in” during two days of flu.
  6. Four riders were up early and ready to go Saturday morning.  Five minutes before departing his house, Mike received a work call.  He was required to solve some computer problems that ran the backbone of his business.  He would not be able to solve the issues soon enough that he could ride.  That meant we were starting with 3 riders and had to finish with 3 to be official.  I was still quite questionable.
  7. We pushed off on time and with great optimism.  About 40 miles into the ride, I was still adjusting my saddle height when my seatpost clamp snapped.  That was a ride-ending mechanical if it couldn’t be replaced.  We found a bike shop 2.5 miles behind us, called them, and got a clamp on the bike with only about 45 minutes and 5 bonus miles used.
  8. At about mile 80, my poor nutrition and dehydration the previous couple of days caught up with me.  I was slowing down, heating up, and fading fast.  I took a rest break to cool down and hydrate, then just as we pushed on, I noted that not only were we leaving urban conveniences for very rural Virginia but also that I couldn’t even garner enough saliva to spit.  I would be unable to “catch up” eating and drinking on the bike.  After a conference among the team, I decided to withdraw and the remaining two riders would continue knowing there was no “credit” other than personal accomplishment.  I rode solo back to a Starbucks, called for a ride, and Mike picked me up a little more than 2 hours later.
  9. After I abandoned the team, about 4o miles later, Jack crashed, tearing open a lot of skin, jarring his shoulder, and cracking his helmet.  He and Mike C decided to continue on for another 10 miles and reassess.  Jack got patched up at a CVS and they decided to continue riding.  They burned their control cards in a ceremony of defiance.

Jack and Mike C finished the ride in good form.  Mike C put up with a lot of drama, none of it his!

It was fun while it lasted!


From → Cycling

  1. saltyvelo permalink

    Whoa! Quite the tail. Glad everyone is alive and hope you’re feeling better.

  2. Wow. That is incredible. Congratulations to everyone for sticking with it. I like the control card burning ceremony. A nice touch!

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