On Saturday, I did a group ride, The Ride Around Kent County, with the Rapid Wheelmen, one of the local bike clubs. The ride was open to anyone, not just members. As the title states, the ride goes around the perimeter of our home county for a total of 145 miles. My longest pervious ride was 100 miles last year. The most I had done this year was around 70. This could be interesting.
While we didn’t necessary ride the county line the entire way, we did still touch all 4 (well, 3 in our case, more later) corners of the county.
The ride started promptly at 7:00 with two groups, a 15+mph group and an 18+mph group. My plan was to go out with the 18+mph group. However, when my dad showed up, he was having some mechanical problems with his bike. It took him a few minutes to get that straightened out and by then both groups were gone. Crap. There is no way I was going to be able to ride 150 miles on my own.
We quickly caught up to the 15+mph group and settled in for a couple miles. I was antsy though and took off on a chase of the 18+ group. I started off and felt someone riding my wheel. Figuring it was my dad, I kept going. I eventually looked back and realized it was another guy and that my dad was no longer in sight. Didn’t really know what to do at this point, so I just kept pushing. It was so freaking hard to catch the group. It seemed like they were right there in front of me, but I just couldn’t catch them. The guy behind me eventually pulled up next to me, thanked me for pulling, and said that he wished he could help pull, but thought that he would just slow us down. I kept cranking and after a solid 6 miles of pulling, we finally latched on to group.
Once I was with the big group, the ride got a heck of a lot easier. We were just cruising at 18-21mph on each of our 5 mile split times. For the most part, the group did a good job of alternating the pulling duties. I stayed up near the front as much as possible and did more than my fair share of pulling. I wanted this to be as much of a personal workout as it could be and sitting in the back of the pack wasn’t going to do me any good.
Time for a rant. There was one guy, I’ll call him Brooklyn because he was a wearing a jersey that said Brooklyn on it, that I wanted to push into the ditch. About 10 miles into the ride, we caught up with a guy who left early to get a head start. He was a on Guru TT bike and planned on riding solo as much as possible because he was training for IMCdA and IMWI. He joined the group for a bit and we chatted. As he dropped back in the group, Brooklyn, looks over at me and goes, “Yea, I’ve ridden with some Ironmen before and, boy, they just really aren’t very good bikers.” Mind you, I’m wearing my Ironman Steelhead jersey and while I’ll be the first to explain it is not an actual Ironman, it has the word “Ironman” on it. I just looked at him, and said, “Well, I’m training for my first Ironman in September. And the reason Ironman riders don’t necessarily have super fast bike splits is because they have to run a marathon when they are done.” His foot when directly into his mouth and dropped back immediately. Which is good, otherwise I might have pushed him into the ditch. My goal for the rest of the day was to make him eat my brake dust. Sadly, he did beat me back, but NOT ONCE did he ever pull. The closest he got was 2nd in the pace line and then he would drop all the way to the back. Thanks for all your hard work douchebag. When I did get back, I found out that he crashed into another rider. They were riding next to each other and Brooklyn thought they were turning and turned into the guy causing him to go down hard; road rash, broken helmet, the works. Thankfully he was no worse for the wear. Brooklyn somehow managed to stay upright. Grrrr. Ok, I’m done ranting.
We had lunch at the 85 mile mark or so and it was absolutely amazing. Homemade sandwiches that were to die for. I even broke down and had my first pop in 2 months. It really didn’t taste good, but I needed the sugar.
We did get a bit lost in search of the 4th corner of Kent County. The red path is the path we took and the blue line is the line we should have taken. Whoops. Ended up adding an extra 11 miles to the ride and we actually went around the 4th corner rather than through it. Quote of the Ride #1 was, “Do we get extra points for riding in extra counties?” Answer, “Yeah, they are are called dumbass points.”
Because of our detour, we missed on of the SAG stop. They were really good about the SAG stops and had them about every 12-15 miles to fill up water bottles or grab a snack (fruit, pretzels, chips, etc). I was in desperate need of a SAG stop because about 25 miles into the ride, I launched a water bottle (again), leaving me with just one bottle for the ride. We were going about 28mph down a winding road and there was no way I was going to be able stop and get it. I’m going to try and find some Specialized Rib Cage cages for my bottles as the other riders swore by them as never launching a bottle. Because we missed the SAG stop, we stopped at a grocery store in Newaygo to stock up (water, Gatorade, and chocolate milk). As we checked out, the cashier was asking us where we were/why riding. The answer to why we were riding was Quote of the Ride #2, “It was either this or waterboarding.”
Back on the course, we headed down the final length of the county. We had about 30 miles to go into a straight head wind. By this time, we were down to only 6 people in our group. Most of the original group of 35 of so turned off at the 100 mile turn off which really fragmented the group. We lost one guy to a mechanical issue (broken spoke) and a couple other guys turned off at their houses. Having so few people, that far into the ride, going into the wind was tough. I did my best to keep with them, but I bonked hard at 130 miles (which is where Brooklyn finally edged me out – sucking wheel of course). It was totally my nutrition. I really screwed the pooch on that during the second half of the ride. When I got home, I was down about 6lbs – not at all good. I had drank so much fluid during the day that I just didn’t feel like I could get anything else in and so I stopped eating chomps and drinking. Bad idea.
The last 26 miles were ridden solo as I dropped off the back of the group. Every climb made my calves want to seize up so I took it as easy as I could. To add insult to injury, it started to rain shortly after I broke from the group. It was sort of nice to have the temperature drop (from low 80’s to low 70’s), but it was still a slap in the face. I questioned my sanity for much of those last miles and my will to continue was pushed to the edge multiple times. When I hit the 140 mile mark, all I could think about was the fact that I just biked the distance of an Ironman course. I silently cheered for Jeff at IMTX not knowing that he was in the process of tearing up the course in Texas. It was sort of funny because at that point, I would have much rather been running that riding. If I were running, at least I could walk if I had to. I slogged it in at about 16mph for the final miles which in reality isn’t horrible, but after cruising for so long in a group it was a a tough blow.
I was so freaking happy to be done. In the end, it was 155.31 miles in 8:18:55 of moving time – closer to 9.5 hours total including lunch break and SAG stops. The best things to come out of the ride were the fact that I finished and that at 112 miles, I still felt really strong.
After I got home, Jennie took care of me by making me the biggest, most delicious milk shake in the world. It is good to see that she hasn’t lost her touch as her college days as an Ice Cream Confectionist at Jersey Junction. That, coupled with an ice bath, and some rest is just what I needed after a long day.
Thanks for reading!