Maybe I should wait until I’ve had a good night sleep before I do a ride report here at LowCadence.com for my Upstate Winter Bicycle League ride today. The legs are pretty stiff and sore. I can smell the roast the beautiful redhead is cooking for dinner and I’m having to restrain myself from going in there and eating half cooked!
The day started with great promise! By the time we rolled out the temperature was probably 50 degrees and the forecast called for a high in the upper sixties. Without a cloud in the sky, it was going to be beautiful.
The first hint that things could get interesting on the road was the fact that there weren’t as many riders as usual. A number of those fewer riders were pros. Typically, that means things are going to be fast.
My plan for the day was to participate in two sprints – the Princeton Hill and Dunklin Bridge sprints. The plan for the final sprint of the day was to just finish the ride in the pack. I didn’t have any plans on winning one! I just wanted to hang in there as long as possible to get some good video to show how the sprint progressed.
It wasn’t long after we got out of town that a new element was going to enter the picture — wind. If you were tucked in, you could still feel the turbulence. If you got out of line, it was at times buffeting. At other times, you could be in a pace line and still feel the crosswind.
The only positive thing in my mind was the fact that I wasn’t the only one having to ride through it. Still, I was well aware that there are some riders out there that know better how to position themselves. It’s another one of those things I still need to learn.
I had the camera in my hand and tried to move it to my helmet in anticipation of the upcoming sprint. I just could not get it on and was fearful I would cause an accident! We approached a stop sign and I hoped I could stop, get it on the helmet, and then catch back on.
STUPID! I did get the camera on and then realized they moved through the intersection much more quickly than I anticipated. Thankfully, I thought I heard someone say, “Hold up for Jonathan.” Even with them slowing the gap was pretty big. Another good thing was I caught up with one of the Revolution riders who was also trailing. Once I caught him, I was able to draft off him as we caught the group.
The worse thing about all this was we stopped soon after to wait on the SAG vehicle! I did all the work for absolutely nothing. Next time I’ll ask.
The next thing on the agenda was the sprint. We turned off onto Princeton Hill road. The good thing was we had a tailwind as we started. The bad thing was the road was extremely rough and I knew that up ahead was 12% grade.
The road was so rough that I noticed the base of my Garmin was rotating on my stem. Also, the roughness of the road coupled with the variated light of the sun coming through the trees caused my camera to freeze up! I wasn’t able to record the entire sprint.
The way it unfolded was that I stayed with the leaders for a good portion of the attack. I was feeling pretty good about myself when we crossed over a bridge and then the road kicked up. I even managed to hang on at that point as well.
Once over the climb I knew there would be an attack and attempted to position myself to go with it. Things split up at that point though. Boyd and Andy were off the front and the other heavy hitters followed. Then there was the group I was with close behind.
I ended up sliding off the back of that group by about 20 yards and was there when the riders behind me came up. I jumped on that train and came into the finish with them. I’m never satisfied with my sprints, but to hang as long as I did was a positive.
Next thing for us was the store stop. The B group was waiting for us. I got some Gatorade and some Fig Newtons. Then it was time to roll out to the next attack zone. However, before we got there, Mr. Sperry decided to take us on an adventure.
I saw him move up in front of the group and then motion for us all to take a left turn. That turn sent us right into a dirt and gravel road! Thankfully, I was at the front when this happened so I didn’t have a lot of traffic around me. I kept waiting for my tire to explode on some sharp gravel. One tire of a rider just behind me did blow.
That lead us to a very nice newly paved road. The next intersection of Dunklin Bridge. Get ready to rumble!
I was riding near Steve during this time and was listening to him talk to the other GlobalBike riders on the radio. It caused me to stop focusing on the attack and just listen to the instructions he was giving. Next thing I knew, I was sitting on the front with a single rider trying to form a gap. I wasn’t going after him!
Several other riders attacked. When I saw who they were, I knew it was doomed. I slowed hoping that the group would come around me. Then things really started hopping and I was moving within the group trying as much as I could to conserve in the midst of the wind.
I stayed in there with the main group until it became obvious I was simply going to wear myself down for no reason since the leaders were now out of sight. However, the thing I learned was that to be a bandit (a single rider without a team) in an attack like this is pretty hard. The pros in the group could pull it off, but the rank and file rider isn’t going to get a win without help.
The beautiful day continued, but I wasn’t seeing a lot of it as I had my hands down in the drops and was just following the wheel in front of me. I’m not sure what was wrong with me. Maybe part of it was that I had only ridden once in the week, had not consumed enough fluids in the days before the ride, and I had been fighting the wind all day.
Even so, by the time the final sprint rolled around, I was feeling much better. It even crossed my mind that I might get pulled right along in it because the group was moving very slow. Then I glanced ahead and saw the Steve Sperry was off the front with a pretty good gap!
The pace picked up slowly, but it did increase. I was so proud of myself! The pack wasn’t pulling away. We passed Matt Tebbetts. He was going back fast. It concerned me because he had been having some hip issues. I hesitated and a gap formed. When my leg came down to accelerate, I felt a cramp hit my right quad that felt like a balloon expanding.
I eased up and started trying to spin it out. The gap to the riders behind me started to close and I held up to wait for Matt. He came by pulling the group! Later I learned as we rode together that his hip bothered him most climbing.
We rode together until we reached Hwy. 20. Once again I started feeling my strength coming back. I started to pull with the riders around me. Then I gapped them and was riding alone. I managed to hold 230 to 250 watts to the track.
As we got to each stop light we picked up more riders so that by the time we reached Carolina Triathlon the group was pretty much back together. As I swung my leg over the bike, the cramps arrived. Oh boy, I still had to make a five mile trip home with some climbing involved.
Sure enough as I made the mild climb up East North Street from Stone Avenue every muscle in my upper legs started cramping — all at one time! I have never had that happen before. Still, I started spinning and mentally relaxed. They cleared and I made it home.
Sorry for the long post. It was a long day.