Yes, finally. I’ll admit- the last post was a little bit of a cop-out. I started my race report then realized that I could either write the whole thing or tie up what I had so far and actually eat breakfast and get to work on time.
Saturday morning was chilly- somewhere in the 40’s. In line with that, the IHOP near Marsha’s house had their heat turned up to about 80, which is nice for the first 5 minutes. After a cheese omelet and a few cups of coffee, I was back in the car and on the road to Gladeville.
The remainder of pre-race time went as expected, and I was at the start area about 20 minutes ahead of time, which gave me a few minutes to mill around, socialize, and get my usual nervous yawns. About a minute before we took off, someone passed around a folder with 50-mile cue sheets inside, and I had just enough time to fold and cram mine into my dorky (yet incredibly useful) map case just as the neutral rollout started (instructions for the 2nd 50 miles were to be handed out after the completion of the first 50).
The rollout lasted for the first couple of miles before we made the left turn on to cedar forest road… which is the “road” pictured in the “weekend preview” photos I posted earlier. It’s actually not a bad gravel road, it was just blocked on that end with large boulders that required the one and only dismount of the race. Once I was back on my bike, I found myself on the tail end of the lead group of men. The road gradually rolled upwards, and they were on the gas big time. I was hoping that they’d eventually settle into a more sustainable pace, but after about 10 minutes, I decided to back off and preserve my legs for the next 90 miles. I eventually joined a group that consisted of several men and a couple of other women- including the gal who’d said she was racing the 100, but then dropped to the 50.
P.S. She was strong. That would have been a damn battle if she’d been able to do 100.
A lot of people have problems reading a cue sheet. A lot of people also have problems with flat tires. Thankfully, I did not have problems with either one, but those two things quickly whittled my group down to 4 of us- two men, the formerly-100mile chick, and myself. We set a nice pace, pushing a bit on the hills and sharing the work on the flats. The men got antsy any time one of us would throw a little jab at the other on a hill or into a headwind.
The course was absolutely gorgeous. A lot of the terrain was negotiated on either gravel or rolling, single-lane farm roads. We found ourselves oo-ing and ahh-ing like tourists. The only hiccup in the first 50 miles was one missed turn at an intersection with no road signs. Unfortunately, it allowed a group of about 10 riders (including a 2 or 3 more women) to catch back up to us, causing the “sketch factor” of the paceline to increase exponentially. With just under a mile ’til the finish (everyone in the group except for me was just doing the 50), a tractor pulled out in front of us. I had a flashback to my very first road race (Lascassas- near Murfreesboro) where the same thing happened. Back then, I was stunned and expected everyone to slow down and wait for it to move out of the way. Instead, half the field attacked, which dropped me like a clingy drunk chick.
I was near the front of the pack and could see that there was no oncoming traffic. So, I attacked the bejesus out of that tractor. It was a revenge attack for making me get dropped that other time, so it was extra angry, and didn’t stop until I’d hammered my way over the 840 overpass into a driving headwind. The peloton was shattered. A few people bridged to me, and the woman who made it ended up sprinting off when we were near the finish. I didn’t care since my race was far from over, and I was very content with just causing mayhem and destruction at the hands of an ill-timed tractor.
I rolled in to the start/finish. Dan asked, “how’d you like the course?” To which I replied, “It’s f*cking awesome!”
“Great! Now go do it again!”
I was stoked. After a break at the car to drop some clothes off, drink a ginger ale, and eat a snack, I rolled back out for lap 2. The wind had really picked up, and it somehow managed to be a tailwind for much of the second lap. My legs still felt great, and I was happy to have a bit more of a chance to enjoy the scenery on my own for 50 more miles instead of being distracted with things like “not running in to other people”. I probably smiled most of the time, and rolled in with a total time of 6:30- placing me in the middle of the 6 others that completed the 100 (all men).
While I was in post-race relax/eat pizza mode, this guy finished the 50:
All in all, a totally kickass experience. Everyone had a great time, and it raised a nice chunk of money for the charity Ride for Reading. I’m looking forward to what Dan has in store for next year since he’s vowed to make the 100 even more challenging.