Q: How fast can you do a 100 mile charity ride?
A: Pretty fast.
Saturday’s Trek 100 weather was near perfect; high 70’s at the rollout, with temps topping out at over 90 by mid-afternoon. I lined up with the Team Wisconsin/KS Energy crew toward the front and we rolled out. For whatever reason the pace ratcheted up almost immediately. Maybe it was the impending heat, the fact that I heard a few people say they wanted to get it done in under 4:30, or maybe it was just the mix of guys on the front. Whatever it was, we took off like we were fired from a cannon. My plan to ride a nice, casual century with friends was ancient history.
Within a few miles, we were rolling along at 26 – 27mph and the group was stringing out like crazy. We skipped the first rest stop, with plans to stop for bottle refills at stop #3. As we came up on stop #2, a bunch of guys slowed and called out that they were stopping. I ran over to the bathroom to dehydrate a bit, just in time to see everyone change their mind and roll out. I quickly refilled a bottle, grabbed a sandwich and jumped into the next group I found. We were only 25 miles or so in, but that gave me a chance to eat a little, and recover from the initial effort. Once I was done, I moved up to the front and then bridged up to the first group, only to repeat the same exact scenario 2 stops later. This time I wasn’t too worried about the chase, but I should have been. The group stopped for less than a minute, then hit the road like a steamroller. I chased by myself, hill after hill after windy hill. The only thing worse than the wind was the fact that I got close enough to the group to read jerseys, and I couldn’t seem to close the gap. We rolled along at the same exact pace – the group smoothly taking turns fighting that wind, and me – legs churning like a blender, spit flying, and heart beating in my throat. Finally, I was able to maintain a bit of speed on a climb, and I caught back on. After that, the pace seemed to stabilize, and everyone was working well together.
In the last 15 miles or so the heat was starting to become more and more noticeable. The wind was relentless, and the hills seemed to be multiplying with each passing minute. Riders were starting to succumb to the sun and the speed, and the front group seemed to get smaller at the top of every hill. For a regular guy like me, riding at the front with guys like Tom Schuler and Gary Fisher for 100 miles seems almost unreal. I think we rolled across the line just after noon – with no one line at the free beer tent!
The best part was that once all the donations are in, we will have raised over $20,000 this year for the MACC Fund.
Already looking forward to next year