I chose the 68 mile loop (there was also a 40 and a chip-timed 100 mile). We rolled out around 8:15 and made our way towards the lake.
As I am finding in all tours...no one seems to tour. This ride went out fast and stayed that way. If you weren't on the big chain ring for about 90% of the course, you were dropped off the back.
Here's a quick brain dump of memories:
- Got into a cat-and-mouse early in the ride with three female triathletes. They'd hammer by me on the downhills, then I'd climb back past them a gear or two higher on the climbs. Guess I'd rather have the upper hand ascending vs. descending. Funny and fun.
- Came into an early aid station. As I was leaving, heard that terrible sound of screeching metal and flesh slapping on pavement, then a collective "ohhhhhhh...." from the crowd. Aid station was at a fire house so I figured someone would tend to the damage.
- Came upon what I called the "29er patrol"...three guys drafting along on 29er mountain bikes - I'm talking full knobbies. They were in for the 100 miler and one of them told me they needed a long ride...I would say they got one.
- Truck backed out into the road as we made our way through Troutman, NC. Master competitor age guy rammed the vehicle. Down on pavement lights out. Police cars, ambulance and fire trucks all over the place. I was just a few minutes behind the carnage and had to ride through someone's front yard to get past.
- Continue to enjoy my all carbon Specialized Roubaix. We rode quite a few secondary roads where the imperfect pavement creates a high vibration; carbon soaks it up. I loved my Felt aluminum/carbon bike, but that frame would have beat me half to death.
The day was overcast and misty, temps were down, and wasps were nowhere to be found...a good day all around for master man. Cheery volunteers ran the aid stations - and there were plenty. We finished up at Lowe's and were treated to music and a sub sandwich lunch (no veggie option but I'll live).
It's fun to ride off the mountain where rolling hills replace painful, unrelenting climbs. I'm thankful there's still a place where I can fit in. It's been 27 years since my first cycling event and I still get jazzed up when I attend. Bottom line, endurance sport may be the biggest gift God has given me, this side of heaven.