Last Saturday was the second Greyhound Rescue Ride in Anderson SC. They have a 25 and 40 mile option as well as a metric century (100km/ 62 miles). I signed up for the metric century like I did back in 2009.
I started out my day early, but easy. My mindset is completely different when preparing for a race than compared to a "ride" which is basically just an organized group ride for me. My attention was not quite where it's supposed to be and this way I managed to leave late because I was READING while eating breakfast and just couldn't put the book down. Seriously? Then, I almost forgot to grab my water bottles that I prepped the night before and had to turn around to grab my cycling gloves that I completely forgot about. I arrived in Anderson with 30 minutes to spare before the ride started.
Last year I did the 62 miles basically on my own. I didn't have any training buddies to come along and since the haven't been too many participants in the metric last year, the people spread out so much over the course that it was tough to even find somebody to stick with. This year, things went a little better. First, a girl that I met during a group ride a couple of weeks ago was supposed to be there, there were way more people out on the course and the best of all, when I was walking over to the registration, I ran into one of my swim buddies from Katie's tri swim class. AWESOME...
And off we were. One hour earlier than last year to beat the heat and still not early enough (8.15AM). Mother nature was kind to us up until around mile 50 when the clouds were shushed away to make room for direct sun broiling. I wouldn't mind a 7AM start next year.. We'll see what happens.
They had a good turnout of around 100 riders over the three distance options and I think more people than the previous year have been choosing the 62 miles. The first ten or so miles, the whole group is riding together, then the 40/62 part ways with the 25 and a little later the 40 and 62 split, reunite after the 62 do an extra 5 mile loop, ride together for a little while and then split off again to be reunited maybe 15 miles before the finish. The route was marked extremely well* and there where plenty of rest stops (5 in total on the 62 mile route). There was just on mishap on the rest stop at around mile 50 when I dumped the warm water that I had in my bottles and refilled them with ice and water provided at the stop. Before we headed out again, I took a big swig out of my bottle and thought I have to throw up. Somebody filled the water container with a garden hose and it tasted horrible. So I dumped the water all over again and refilled one bottle with ice and bottled water (one of the last ones in the cooler). Fortunately, there was another rest stop 8 miles after that, where we were able to refill again with tasty water.
*Later I heard that a couple of people took wrong turns and I honestly don't know how that could have happened. I never even looked at the cue sheet, but you had to keep your eyes on the road on intersections and look for the blazes.
About the ride itself: I really enjoyed being out there and having Stacey as my riding buddy was great. The time was flying and we were chatting at least three quarters of the time while being on the road. We talked about racing and training and family and the World Cup. There wasn't a dull moment! I wasn't watching our pace closely, but was seeing an overall good time and good progress on the road while still feeling strong*. Mentally this one was much easier for me as the ride last year, because having a riding buddy distracted me from counting down the miles that I still had to ride. Physically, I felt much better as well especially after the ride was done. So it was a win, win and win situation here.
*Just the last 10 miles was a struggle... I was ready to be done with this!
We got back to the parking lot in 4 hours and 10 minutes of riding time (I stopped the Garmin for rest stops) which was 5 minutes slower than last year, but compared to how I felt after the ride last year, I am taking this ride any time. Besides, that still a pretty darn good time considering the terrain* we've been riding.
*The mind is a funny thing. I was surprised on how much of the course I recognized and amazed by the fact that I completely block out the memory of all the hills on it. Seriously, when I talked to people about this ride, I was telling them how "flat" it was for the Upstate.... Yeah right!
Stacey had a brick run on tap and headed out for that right after we got back... I thought about taking my running shoes with me, but ended up leaving them at home. I cleaned up a little and then hit the "buffet"! While sitting and wolfing down a hot dog and pasta salad, I got to talk with a couple of the other riders and ride stories were traded.... That's always fun!
This has been my longest ride in a year and it really got me thinking about me wanting to do Mt Mitchell next year. After these 62 miles, I was done... The thought of doing another 40 miles just seemed ridiculous to me and then doing a race like Mt Mitchell for my first ever bike race AND for my first century ride now seems like a pipe dream. On the other hand, I know that if I start pulling 60-milers on the weekends more than once a year, I will eventually adapt to the distance and the time in the saddle... It is possible... I have almost a year to prepare!
Sorry that I don't have any pictures of the ride. I was hoping that they have some online by now, but no such luck. I saw people around on the course with cameras, so I guess it's just a matter of time.
So long! ;-)