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Wheels O'Fire Century - CycleCentury

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Hamilton, Georgia
United States
Harris County Georgia Chamber of Commerce
35F / 2C
Total Time = 3h 05m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Woke up at 5:00 and drove down to Harris County. Temp was 48 at 5:00, 33 at ride time.
  • 3h 05m
  • 45 miles
  • 14.59 mile/hr

Maurices Ride Recap says it all, EPIC!

OK, so as to not skirt the issue any longer, here's the recap for Saturday's misadventure. As most have discerned by now, the weather changed a lot of plans, at least for most of us. Greg somehow managed to make the full 101, five of us (me, Eddie, Steve R, Don, and Charles) rode the toughest 45 miles of our lives, and Toni (in my opinion) made the most heroic choice of all by biking no miles. But, here's the rest of the story...
The theme for Saturday was cast when Eddie and I talked by phone Friday afternoon as he was on his way to pick me up for the drivedown: "It's going to be miserable," he said. "No," I replied. "It's going to be epic!" Friday night, as Eddie, Greg, and I were bunking down in our shared hotel room, we watched the weather forecast that now included not only 35 mph winds, but a chance of brief snow. "It'sgoing to be brutal," Eddie said. "Nah," said I. "It'll be epic!"
Looking out the hotel room window before dawn Saturday morning, the palmetto trees by the pool were whipping wildly from side to side. There were white caps on top of the cover on top of the pool. Sipping coffee in the lobby, folks were reporting snow flurries outside, but I couldn't really see anything. Sitting on the bed, Greg said: "I don't care if it's 10 degrees. I have to ride."
By the time we packed our bags and bikes and took it all to the cars, there was snow starting to fall. Well, it wasn't really falling, just flying past in horizontal bands. It picked up even more by the time we pulled out of the parking lot about 7:40 headed for the high schoolfor the start. We arrived at the school a little past 8. Greg pulled up beside us and rolled his window. The look on his face was far less determined now. "I'm about 50/50, he said." I reminded him: "Idon't care if it's 10 degrees, I have to ride." Inside, the riders meeting was wrapping up. But, we all decided to grab a bite of the free breakfast. Anything to stall at this point. By now, Steve, Charles, and Don were with us. Only Toni was missing. As we readied to roll about 8:40, she called still from her hotel, where she'd been expecting a call from Eddie. At this point, Greg said he was away, so he rolled off alone on his solo journey. The rest of us waited.
By the way, the snow was REALLY falling now. Big flakes, lots of them, whipped every which way by the wind. I spent three winters in Cleveland, OH, and this was starting to look too familiar. Toni arrived in her van and informed us she would not ride. But, she was going to follow us the entire route to be our private SAG. So, we loaded some extra gear in her van and off we went at 9:08 am.
The snow was easing quite a bit now, but the roads were really wet. Which meant now we were too. The thermometer in Toni's van read 35 degrees and winds from the North. Which just so happened to be the way we were headed. In under two miles, we were on the first climb of Pine Mountain. Cold, wet, and into a head wind, it was hard to imagine how long we would keep this up. But, the climbing helped to warm us, and the mountain was blocking the wind for a bit. Over thetop, it was full-on wind and a very chilly, sometimes squirelly descent. Just after the right turn onto Hopewell Church Rd (about mile 8), a real squall line hit. The snow was falling so hard you could barely see. This time, the flakes were smalled, but harder. They stung on your face and made all kinds of sounds hitting the helmet and jacket. I started to notice the snow sticking on my gloves and tights, which I figured would soon mean wet clothes. And, about that time, it started sticking everywhere. The ground we rode through was solid white, and you could see snow swirling about on the street.
I rode up to Eddie... "Eddie," I shouted. "Epic Sucks!"
It was like this for a few miles, before we rode out of that squall and into open roads and wind near Callaway Gardens. We'd blown off the first SAG stop, but stopped briefly at the second for a pee breakbefore the second climb up Pine Mountain. By now, the sun was out, the wind was going to be behind us. According to Toni, the temp had risen to 38 during the snow squall and had dropped back to 35 now. But, sunshine meant life was getting better as we made our way up that climb past FDR state park. At the top, we reached a decision point: 101/45 to the right; 25/68 straight ahead. None of us said what we intended in total, but we chose the 101/45 because it included all three climbs and the ride along Pine Mountain ridge over Dowdell's Knob. (There were some crude comments -- mostly from me – about that. But this is a family message board.)
Along the ridgeline, we had sunshine and a tailwind at first. Lifewas still good, and the riding was getting brisker. The up and down rollers there are a test, but we were doing fine. Somewhere midway on that ridge, though, the clouds settled in again, the snow returned, and the winds picked up. It probably was no colder, and Toni reports it actually went up again to 38. But, with no sun and more wind, it was now feeling REALLY cold. When we finally came to the right turn onto 85-ALT and the fast downhill into Shiloh, it was 11:07. The wind was ferocious, and flurries had returned. It should have been a superfast descent (we hit 50 there last year). But, the gusting side wind was making our bikes shake and jump all over the place. I only reached 41.5 before I had to shut it down to keep from blowing off the road. We rolled into the Fire Station SAG in Shiloh and gladly ducked inside the bays to get out of the wind. Outside, the wind not only had the flag extended fully, it was bending the flag pole!!
We still weren't commenting on how long we would ride. The wind was stronger than ever now, and Toni reports the temp was 38 degrees. I suggested, as we started out, the next stretch should be better, as our route along the base and then up Pine Mountain should be shielded from the wind. Man, was I ever wrong! This was the worst stretch, by far. It's a hilly route from Shilo to the left turn on GA354. And, we were dead into a howling wind the entire way. I recall looking down at my computer on one flat stretch where I was pedaling as hard as I could to maintain an 8 mph pace. The wind would gust at times, buffeting the bike, and then it would ease briefly to allow someforward progress. But, mostly, it was slow going, as we all were strung out along the road. Slowly, one by one, we reached the lastsummit and the left turn on GA354 down towards Hamilton. It was noon then, according to Toni. The downhill from there was fast, and reasonably pleasurable, for a change. We had a steady tailwind andmanaged to keep a pretty tight group going 20 mph or so.
All of which made the decision point at GA116 a little tougher. It was now time to decide: 101 to the left; 45 to the right. Five more miles or 61 more miles?? Yes, that last stretch felt good. And the temp was now reaching into the low 40s. But, the wind was stronger than ever. Easily blowing 20 mph, with gust up to 35. We'd be getting a tailwind for the next eight miles or so on the 101. But, then we'd be facing about 30 miles due west into that wind. I just couldn't see us handling that. No one would say the word, and Don suggested a secret ballot! But, someone finally said it first and we all agreed (except Eddie, who looked really torn). Right it was.
Five all out miles to the school. We dug in, pedalled hard, sprinted for the camera, and drove forHarris County Highschool for all we were worth. Eddie, Don, and Charles took the Hamilton County Line Sign. We all rolled through town, and we hammered on for the finish.
Back in the parking lot, it was 43 degrees now, but the wind made even the final circuits of "cool down" a challenge. Over spaghetti, we were all having a hard time accepting our defeat. And, yet, we alsoknew our 45 miles had been quite an accomplishment. It was just a number, though, that sounded far less than what we felt it meant. Our only hope was that long-gone Greg really was long-gone by car, and notout there somewhere making us all look bad.
As Eddie and I left, we looked for Greg's car. We thought maybe we saw it, but weren't sure. I called his cell. No answer, but he quickly called me back. "I've got 18 miles to go," he said. (Damn, thought I.) "I haven't seen anyone in an hour and half," he said.
So, Eddie's worst fears had been realized. And, we wondered what grief we would catch later from Greg. We found out later when Greg called me back as I got home just after 4. He called to let me knowabout the box of skirts. And, at that point, there was not much to say. I'm amazed Greg could make that ride in those conditions. And, to be solo the whole way!! Pitty the fool who goes up against him in thoseTris this summer! I remain, however, impressed with the gritty performance of my riding companions also. We made it further than I thought we would starting out.
And, Toni's gift to us as SAG driver, cheerleader, and photographer for the day was priceless. As we rode, I recalled the line from the old Georgia/Georgia Tech JV game to benefit Scottish Rite: "Stronglegs run, so we legs can walk." Of Toni Saturday, let it be said: "Strong minds drive so that weak minds can ride!" Thanks, Toni!
As for the box of skirts... If Eddie, Don, Steve, Charles, and I have to wear one, then so be it! But, what do the rest of C4 who were home in bed Sat morning have to wear!? :-)
It was... EPIC!

Post race

Last updated: 2008-03-07 12:00 AM
03:05:00 | 45 miles | 14.59 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Hilly, Snow, Sleet, and Wind
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2008-03-09 9:57 AM

Subject: Wheels O'Fire Century
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