The bed felt great last night, but the sleep was fitful. Laying there the stiffness in my shoulders and back were noticeable. Finally the ibuprofen kicked in and sleep came. 5:15 came all the earlier.
Happily, I woke up with less stiffness. A quick shower and I was off to McDonald’s to get my favorite morning pre-ride meal: a steak, egg and cheese bagel along with some black coffee. After getting back home and putting my stuff together, I was out the door to make it do the starting line for the Palmetto Peloton Project by 6:30.
The sky was overcast and the air was cool. If it didn’t rain, this was going to be a perfect day! You might think you want sunshine, but I’ll take a cool overcast day.
After some announcements, we rode off in the brightening morning shortly after 7:00. I started off near the front – maybe 30 or so riders ahead. We were going at what I figured was a good pace, but I wasn’t sure. I had forgotten my computer! I would be riding this one blind.
By the time I reached the overpass of Poinsett Highway, I was sitting in third. I eased off though as we neared the base of Paris Mountain. I said to myself, “Ride you own ride, don’t get caught up with the pace of those around you.” So, I put it in the granny gear and just took my time on the climb. Yep, I got passed several times, but I kept my cadence. I didn’t have my computer, but I had done this enough to know how my pace feels.
I passed a couple of the people back before reaching the KOM. Then we head down the other side. I connected with a guy in a Clemson kit and I came off of Paris with what I figured to be 10 or so riders in front of me. At that point I connected with two other riders and we stayed together back to the start-finish line.
As we passed beneath the sign, I asked the guy beside me, “What was our time?” He replied, “1:09.” My plan was working! Now, if I could just do that again, I’d be in business. It seemed possible because we had a group of about five riders and if we formed a pace line, maybe we could make it easy on all of us.
About that time, the rider who had given me the time had a flat. His friend eased off and we were down to three. Then by the time we reached Pete Hollis, the other two riders dropped back. Now it was just me. Of course, going alone on this route was nothing new for me. So, I just dug in and went on alone.
Turning off of Pete Hollis onto Old Buncombe, I could see the other five riders up ahead. I tried to take my time to bridge the gap, but I did want to catch them. Two lights later I caught them and something about me catching them made them decide to turn up the wick. I felt like saying, “Hey, I just worked to catch you guys! Give me a chance to catch my breath!”
We continued our pace line over Poinsett. It was fun. However, I started figuring my place in the group and realized that I was getting set up to pull the group up that last part of Buncombe before Paris! I tried not to think they were doing it on purpose 🙂
I did as much as I could, but just about at that point my body started tiring. Just past Choice Hills Baptist Church I pulled over and said, “Sorry guys, that’s it for me.” Off they went leaving me in the dust. I arrived at the base of Paris for my second climb alone.
Oh boy, I had set in my mind to try three laps. The way I was feeling at this point, I was thinking I would be glad to just get two! The ride was uneventful, though I ended up getting passed by I think three people before the KOM. Once we got there, I noticed they had stopped by the side of the road and I just kept going.
At the Big Lots parking lot I stopped to get some fluids. They were very kind, but I could tell they were wondering why I was in such a hurry. “I’m trying to make it by 9:30. What time is it?” “It’s 9:13,” came the reply. Ooooo, that was going to be tough. Still, the banana and Powerade gave me a kick and I felt pretty good.
The hills on Main gave me a test and I figured at that point I wasn’t going to make it. Still, I kept at it all alone. As I came into Cleveland Park I was overtaken by a rider I remembered from earlier in the ride. I hung with him for a bit, he left me, and then I caught up with him just as we crossed the finish line.
I had no idea what the time was, but as we rode by ride coordinator he said to us, “If you’re going to go for three – now is the time to go.” I actually thought about it. By the time I neared the traffic light I decided against it. It was enough for me to know that I had given enough in those first two laps to make the third possible. Once I stopped, I figured I had come in at around 9:34.
44 miles in just around two hours and thirty minutes. I have to be pretty happy about it.
I can remember several times when the going got rough thinking, “Mike didn’t quit.” I kept thinking of him and pushing on. Thanks to all of you who donated to my Ride For Mike. I’ll be doing another ride in his memory next year – but I’m not sure it will be the Palmetto Peloton Project.