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Sunday, January 27, 2008

I made it to 80

I didn't report on my Upstate Winter Bicycle League ride yesterday. The first order of business was trying to raise myself from the dead! Then it was off to the Monster Truck Jam at the BiLo Center with Thing 2 and Thing 3. Once I got home from that, I dragged myself into bed.

Downtown was a busy place that morning when I rolled up. The 31st annual Greenville News Run Downtown 5K was taking place causing me to alter my route to get to the starting point for the ride. I was told 2200 people had registered. Judging from the number of people I saw, they must have all showed up.

I hooked up with some of my Hour of Power buddies while we waited for things to get underway. Unfortunately, for me, they were taking the 60 mile route. That meant not as much company for the pain to follow.

On Friday I had talked with Strad and John at the shop and told them I was going to hold back and try to finish this one with the main group. John told me that was a smart move, but "if I know you, your ego is going to kick in and you're going to go for something." I was determined not to.

I was being really good up through the first 20 miles. After the potty break, I ended up near the front. I decided at that point to see what would happen if I pushed it a bit. I started to pull aiming for a spot about 200 yards ahead.

I should have pulled off earlier. I was going about 19 mph and had the feeling I was slowing the group. So, I kept pushing a little more. My HR hit 188 and I knew I would have to bail.

I did and fell back like a rock! I was trying to recover and ended up falling off the back. Evil thoughts came into my mind, "You're feeling the way you felt at the end of previous rides -- and you are only 30 miles in! How are you going to survive for 60 more miles!"

Thankfully, we came up to a stop sign which slowed the group and I was able to catch back on. By the time we got to the first attack zone about 43 miles in, I was back into shape.

John would be proud of me. I stayed in the group and kept the leaders in sight, but stayed well within myself. As we finished the first sprint, I felt great and even better was the fact that the store stop was right afterwards.

During the stop, I pulled over to the side of the store to lean my bike against the wall. I changed over my colder gear and put on some drier gloves and stuff. I was ready to go!

We started off and immediately I knew something was wrong. I couldn't get clicked in. My Speedplay system was messed up. I looked down and noticed that my shoes were full of mud. I finally got the left one in, but the right one just seemed impossible to get in.

Finally, I pulled off to the side of the road to fix it in hopes that the SAG could bring me back to the group. Unfortunately, the left foot was hung. I couldn't get it out. Down I went right on my left hip. I had to fight to get my left foot loose. Finally, I thought I had enough mud out and got back on to catch the group.

No sooner had I started than I realized that it still wouldn't go in. Thankfully, the left foot wasn't stuck anymore. I kept working on it toward the rear of the group -- pouring water on it and banging it against the pedal. Ah! I got it in -- though it was stuck there for the rest of the ride.

Not long afterwards, we started the second attack zone. Again, I stayed back, but this time the zone was longer and even though I was trying not to stay up at the front, I started to fade. Thankfully, I was with a few other riders as we came to the next turn. I took the turn before the group returned from the sprint line. I rode on for several miles getting myself back into shape.

The group gobbled me up and we carried on without any events until we started the last attack. No way was I going to be able to contest it, but I hoped to stay with the main group. The horn blew and we started off.

I felt great at first because the group didn't seem interested in pushing it. A rider went off the front and then another. The group let them go. Then a third rider bridged over to those riders. The group let them go. It wasn't much longer that we hit a grade that slowed the riders in front and they were swallowed up.

I don't know what happened after that. Things started picking up at that point and I started feeling a cramp coming in my left leg. I lost the group shortly before we reached the turn onto I20. I started spinning and sent happy thoughts to my muscle.

Just as I turned to go on the four lane road, the SAG came up. I was with a group of about 4 riders. Some of us hoped on the back of the draft. That brought us up to a group of about 10 riders. I bailed at that point to continue on in with those riders.

I couldn't complain too much. Really this was the best finish I've had yet. As we were heading down Augusta Street, I ended up beside Steve Sperry. I told him how much I enjoyed his choice of roads for the today's ride. He saw I had a Garmin and started talking about the elevation of this ride. He mentioned that he hadn't been riding enough and today was a really bad day for him.

I joked, "Well, it is good to have you come back to visit with us for a bit." He replied, "No offense, but I really don't want to be back here." I came back, "Me either." Just because some of us are in the back doesn't mean we enjoy being back there. We can be just as competitive as the guys up front, we just haven't had the experience or the training to be there.

Over all, I'd say it was okay. I feel like something wasn't right. I knew right off that I didn't have it. Had George and Craig been there pushing the pace, I probably would have been spit out the back.

Hey, even King Sperry has a bad day every now and then.



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