Climbing the 80 foot mountain

Last night I headed over to the Bike Doctor bicycle shop on Hilton Head Island in order to participate in their Tuesday night ride.  It was so nice to find some folks to ride with since I didn’t know any routes to take solo.  Turns out it was a pretty good work out.

I found the shop on Monday while looking for some bar grips for my son’s bike.  On the way onto the island, I had seen a shop on the right called Jonathon’s Bicycle Shop.  I hopped on my fixed gear and started following the bike trails in that direction.  After pedalling for quite a while I finally came to the end of the bike trails — and side walks.  My search for Jonathon’s had come to an end.

Time to pull out the trusty Garmin 705.  I went into the “Where to?” mode and clicked into the “Recreation” menu.  My search brought up two cycle shops within three miles.  One was “Hilton Head Bicycles” and the other was “The Bike Doctor.”  Of course, I was intrigued by the name of the later, so that is where I headed.  The Garmin’s directions delivered me just fine — though I think I was freaking out the GPS by following the bike trails instead of the road.

While at the shop I overheard some people talking about a Tuesday night ride.  Ah, music to my ears!  I confirmed that they had one.  Turns out they have rides both Tuesday and Thursday nights leaving from the shop at 6 PM.  I planned to be there.

I pulled up to find about 8 riders hanging out.  Before we headed out there were about 20.  Most of them were locals, but there were people there on vacation as well.  We all got our bikes ready and then headed out on the ride.

The first several minutes were spent warming up.  It gave me a chance to talk with some of the regular riders.  I was trying to get some sense of how the ride worked.  How long was it? I was told anywhere between 20 and 40 miles.  What was the pace?  We could hit speeds of 30+ miles an hour, but probably would average around 20 mph.  The one thing I didn’t ask was whether there were sprint points or not.

Finally we got out of the residential streets and the pace picked up.  We were in a pace line running about 24 mph.  Before long it was my turn to pull on the front.  I found myself hitting 26 mph and backed down to the pace speed.  It was just so easy to put it in gear and move.  It was FLAT.

We caught a rider who must have been waiting for us.  As we rode by him I yelled, “Jump onboard the train!”  No sooner had he moved behind me into line when I heard a police siren coming around us.  He went past and instead of continuing on to his emergency he stuck his arm out the window and motioned for me to pull over.

It would have been cool if I could say he was pulling me over for speeding.  However, that wasn’t the case.  We all stopped behind the patrol car and one of the ride leaders came to talk with the officer.  I couldn’t hear everything, but it appeared that people has been complaining about the ride on that stretch of road.  He was telling us that we needed to stay single file.

Well, we were in a pace line going close to 25 mph.  I don’t think there was anyone at that point two abreast.  Even if they were, the law allows that.  I think it was more of a case where the officer was simply stopping us so he could say to the complainers that they had talked to us.  The ride leader was very respectful and things ended up okay.  We headed off again… in single file.

Then we moved out onto the Cross Island Parkway.  That is when things really picked up!  There were some pretty fast guys out there.  When I was pulling up front, we were moving along at around 28 mph in a pace line.  Then all of a sudden a couple of the guys moved up and accelerated beyond that speed.  “Hmmmmm, this is a weird pace line,” I thought to myself.  I took off after them, but reacted too late.

The guys slowed after passing below a directional sign.  We went off the exit and then swung back around onto the Parkway again.  As we regrouped there, I asked a guy beside me if that was a sprint point.  He said it was.  Ah, that explained it.

We continued down the Parkway and I looked up ahead and saw a mountain.  Well, actually it was a bridge.  I looked at the guys beside me and exclaimed, “A hill!”  He replied, “It’s all yours.  Go get it.”  I took off from the group and found myself hitting around 28 mph on the incline. I crested the “hill” and my Garmin told me we were at 80 feet above sea level.

The rest of the ride was another run down the Parkway and then some back streets back to the shop.  We ended up riding about 28 miles with an average speed of 19 mph.  My maximum speed for the ride was around 33 mph — I believe that was when I was trying to catch those guys in the sprint.

I was glad I hooked up with the Bike Doctor guys.  When they found out I was from Greenville, the first thing they wanted to know was if I knew Chris Butler.  Turns out that this was the ride where Chris got his start.  If you don’t know who Chris is, he is another up and coming rider who races for Hincapie-Barkley and Furman University.

The story these guys told me was that Chris started out in cross country here in Hilton Head, but due to some physical issues he was advised to try cycling.  He did and the rest is history in the making.  The word here was that not only was Chris a great rider, but he was a super nice guy.

If you would like check out the ride on MyGarmin, you can go here.