I'll break out the ride by the five rest stops.
Start to 1st rest stop - 15 miles - We gathered by Neal's car and waited for Jonathan to finish changing his tube. About a mile out Greg had a flat and Jonathan and I stopped and helped him change it. About 1/4 mile later Greg flatted again. Fortunately the SAG guy was right there and heard the flat. He changed out the tube but it popped again before he put it on the ground. I decided to go ahead to see if I could catch the rest of the group before they left the first rest stop (we were about 15 minutes behind at this point). At about 10 miles I saw Neal flying back the other way. At the rest stop I only saw Ken Cooksey. A woman who arrived soon after said that someone had crashed and the description matched that of Bep. Unfortunately it turned out that it WAS Bep. I also took a wrong turn when I was blindly following a family that did not have a map. It only cost me a couple of miles.
1st rest stop to 2nd rest stop - 15 miles - I pushed it a little bit here, still determined to catch the group. There were some pretty substantial hills and I started to worry a bit about being able to finish the whole route. At the second stop I ran into Brett, who told me about his adventures and that I had missed the 55 mile group by a few minutes. I hung around there until Greg and Jonathan turned up. The three of us headed out soon afterwards.
2nd rest stop to 3rd rest stop - 25 miles - We passed Brett and his crew less than a mile from the rest stop. They did not look happy. I stayed with the guys for a while but they lost me on a long climb ( I suck at climbing. Yes Brett, I know I need to do more hills). I rode a bit with a woman who had recently done an HIM and still had her race number on her bike. It was getting very hot and there was little shade on the route. I realized at about mile 40 that while I had refilled my water bottle, I had forgotten to fill my gatorade bottle. When I looked at the map and realized that I still had 15 miles to go to the next stop I knew I was in trouble. I tried to ration my fluids but still ran out 8 miles from the next stop. I was really laboring up hills and was thinking that I had made a mistake not going on the 55 mile route. I was sooooo happy to see the glorious "Rest Stop Ahead" sign. We were all dragging a bit but we loaded up on water and gatorade and felt a little better. We headed out with the promise that the next stop would be in 13 miles.
3rd rest stop to 4th rest stop - 20 miles (they lied to us) There was a BRUTAL hill not far out of the 3rd rest stop. I almost got off my bike several times during the climb. Greg and Jonathan had passed me just a little out of the stop so noone would have seen but I just could not give in. This stretch was the worst in terms of climbs but at least I was better hydrated. It was over 90 degrees at this point and I found myself hoping for shade as I approached every curve in the road. My riding was also reduced to desperately trying to recover between hills. I think I gave up on my large ring early in this stretch. I saw a couple of trucks going by with bikers and bikes in their beds. I was determined not to be one of those people. I was really hurting by the time I pulled into the 4th stop. While we were there one more person gave up and another load of bikers came by in a truck. I found out that there were now only two people behind me on the route.
4th rest stop to 5th rest stop - 18 miles - I actually had a bit of an energy burst coming out of this stop. I didn't go any faster but I wasn't hurting as much. I was feeling proud that I was still going while so many people had given up. My neck was really bothering my and I was having some trouble with my hands (my pinkies still don't work right). The pain in my legs/glutes had plateaued but I was feeling VERY beat. There were definitely moments of despair but I didn't hallucinate like I did riding the gaps. I think if my security blanket (Neal) had been there I would have been in a much better mental state. I was not going very fast at this point, maybe 13mph on flats and it was very hot. I kept telling myself that I would stop at the next place that had shade. There was none. Daggone farms! I kept thinking that I had gone off track when it seemed like I had been riding a 3 or 4 mile stretch forever, when really I was just a bit delirious. I was soooo happy to get to the fifth (and last) rest stop. I think I must have looked in really bad shape because I could see the concern in the eyes of the volunteer who came to refill my bottles for me. She suggested a nice shaded place where I could lie down. I got excited when Greg told me that there were only 10 miles to go. I was really ready to be done.
5th rest stop to the finish - 10 miles - I think I made this stretch solely by force of will. I was completely out of gas and couldn't get going even on downhills. I think that Greg and Jonathan saw how bad off I was because they bracketed me (Greg in front and Jonathan in back) and kept encouraging me. Even the last few miles through Cartersville, with only slight inclines, was very tough. It was only when I saw the Cartersville Primary School that I was sure that I would be able to finish. At this point we saw alot of cars coming the other way with bikes on racks. They all waved and shouted encouragement. It definitely helped. We finally got to the park and were too wiped to realize that we had gone in the wrong entrance. When we got to the ride HQ we found out that the promised burgers, dogs, and drinks were only for those who took LESS than 8 hours to complete the ride. The guys rode around the park a little until their trip odometers reached 100. With my little side trip earlier I hit 100 before getting back to the park.
Aftermath - I just sat in the car enjoying the air conditioning for a few minutes before I could pull myself together enough to drive home. I stopped to get ice on the way home for an ice bath. Brrrrrr. I feel good that I made it the whole way but it may be a while before I do it again. Before I do I definitely need to get some bike shorts. My tri-shorts are great, even for 50-mile rides, but 100 miles is a little too far. I also should have kept the aerobars on the bike. I expected to be in a group so I took them off. I ended up riding the vast majority of the ride alone. I think my hands, shoulders, and arms would not hurt as much if I had been in the bars for a substantial portion of the ride. I'm glad I did it but it was as much of a suffer-fest as the three-gaps ride, just in a different way. I'm a little afraid of how bad I will feel tomorrow.
What would you do differently?:
Collapsed into the driver's seat of the car and tried not to pass out.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Lack of training, heat, and lack of training. Just like when I rode the three gaps I was woefully unprepared but too dumb to let that stop me.
The course was well marked and the volunteers were great. I was one of the last ones to come by and they were as nice as could be. I will definitely do this ride again next year.
Last updated: 2007-06-15 12:00 AM
95F / 35C
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Got up, ate two uncrustables, and drove to the race site.
Biking to Neal's car, about .2 miles.