Low Key Hill Climb MegaMonster 100 mile Time Trial
As I looked out at the cold damp fog rolling in on Sunday I couldn't believe how lucky I was that an April day found itself transplanted into February on Saturday, February 12th.
This was the first of what will be many centuries for me this year; organization that runs the Fast America ride (America by Bicycle) requires that I send in proof of having ridden a sub 6 hour century. Three of my friends volunteered to ride with me in this event to qualify. Somehow that 4 man team grew to 9
From work (Space Systems/Loral – SSL)
Me, Phil Alne, Mark LaForge, Jonathan Sheffield and Jim Wheeler
From my racing club (San Jose Bicycle Club – SJBC)
Me, Phil Alne, Don Grijalva, Richard Hanke and Alexander Komlik
And one unaffiliated friend – Mike Moore
I was worried - would the SSL and SJBC people get along, would we be compatible riders, how would we deal with the differences in strength between riders, etc.)? To prepare, most of us had participated in one of two training rides over the previous two weeks, but there were still riders who had not ridden together before.
I need not have worried. Phil organized us into 3 three man sub-teams, with each sub-team taking 10 mile turns rotating at the front. Even our jerseys blended well; with blue and gray being the dominant colors of both teams. No one asked me if I had dressed in the dark; with SJBC bib shorts and arm-warmers, and an SSL jersey.
We executed the first 51 miles flawlessly. The first 30 miles were basically uphill, and they were into a headwind from about the 10:00 direction, so those of us at the back practiced our echeloning. I slowed us down on the two short steep sections, but I never became detached (except when I dropped my chain, but Andy Schlek would have approved of my recovery). Besides my chain, there were two other minor problems, Don had to stop and adjust his brakes, and Mike had some foot problems. But everyone was able to get back on without our having to stop.
The 51 mile return was a different story - I was impatient to start, and didn't realize that I had left my team behind. So I soloed at 90% effort the first 4-5 miles. My heart sank when Mark finally caught up to me and said “Chris, you fractured the team!”. We never regained the efficiency of the first half, splitting into two and sometimes three subgroups. The wind had changed and the final 30 miles (downhill) were into a strong headwind; but we regrouped by the end.
This is the second time that I had ridden this stretch of road. 102 miles without a single stop sign, traffic light, or even cross street. Easily the most beautiful stretch of road that I have ever ridden.
We finished in 5:55, good for second place in the Team Division. I hit the 100 mile mark in 5:48 (5:37 of actual bike time, and 11 minutes stopped at the checkpoints). I was satisfied, given the wind and 4800 feet of climbing.
Here are pics from checkpoint volunteer Lane Parker and teammate Richard Hanke:
And here is the ride:
Thank you everyone on the team! One would think that a 9 person TTT team would be stronger than a 4 person team, but it is a lot more complicated. Everyone accepted that the goal for the day was to get me back to where I had started in less than 6 hours and each and every one contributed mightily to that goal. It’s a day that I will remember for a long time.
UPDATE: America by Bicycle cashed my check and accepted this as my qualifying ride, with the admonition to please do it again closer to the departure date! WILL DO!