This was the first year for the Sub5Century Challenge. They had several groups of about ten each start. The "A" group was the fast, stick it or get dropped group. There were "B" and "C" groups targeting just under 5 hours. A "D" group riding 100 miles at any pace to finish, and another group doing either 34 or 70 miles.
I was in the "C" group. I hadn't met any of the people in C group prior to the start. Each group started at 5 minute intervals starting with the A group. We started at 7:40am and it was around 56F and calm. The official starter and timer was John Vande Velde. A U.S. national champion is his day, and father of Christian. As we pulled away from the start John commented "nice bike" on my screaming yellow bike. About 100 feet later, I realized the 'nice bike' didn't have a working speedometer. Here I am fixing it, just as the "C" group is rolling out:
Rolling Out - Click here
That's Wild Bill in the lime vest, our group leader, and Mike A. on the left front. Joe is in red.
The whole ride was out in the country and was an awesome route. Here we are on the first lap, out in the country. Country Riding - Click here Note our sag vehicle. It followed us the whole way. I gotta give a big round of thanks to the driver. That had to be a long, slow, boring drive. It was around this time we missed a turn. Half the group went straight, half turned. The sag driver checked the map and got us back on course. That wasted a few minutes. Not a great start for the Sub5Challenge.
Still on the first lap and I'm a bit cold. To my left is Fred. This guy already appears to be straining a bit. Starting to huff and puff. Behing me is Meaghan, our groups only woman. We rode a double paceline and continously rotated. As you can see, we weren't too good at it at first.
Early Paceline - Click here
We were averaging 21+mph and I was still wasn't warmed up in this shot. It took me until about 20 miles before I was warmed up and feeling ready for a long ride.
Cold Start - Click here
The first loop was 34 miles and we averaged just over 21mph it was looking good until we missed the turn into the parking area and went nearly a mile extra before we got into the rest stop. We came in at 1:37 right at 21mph average, and we're stopped 3-1/2 minutes to get water bottles refilled and a potty stop, if needed. After the stop, we started the 2nd loop with an average of 20.3mph.
The second loop was 36 miles and it was still sunny and warming up nicely. Most everybody took off their jackets and leggings during the stop. The wind was picking up a bit. Maybe 5-6 mph from the west. On the 2nd loop we started passing a few riders that got dropped from the earlier groups. We picked up a guy from the A group. He had got dropped, then lost the route. He rode an extra 10 miles before he got back on track and we picked him up along the way somewhere.
He were are in a corn field. The two guys in the back didn't make it. Roger, in the green couldn't hold the pace and dropped out of our group on the 2nd loop, I think. Ryrie in the black vest had had back spasms two days earlier and even with last minute therapy on Saturday, he pulled out after the 2nd lap. I think he would have made it if not for his back. Another Corn Field - Click here
Here's a shot of Mike pacing Roger back into the group.
Mike helping out - Click here Mike did a lot of work like that. And Mike helped keep the group organized and tight. I don't think we could have held it together without Mike.
After 50-60 miles we got so we could ride a decent double paceline!
Decent Paceline - Click here I just love the scenery. The whole ride was like this. We never saw a town, or traffic. I could ride like this all day.
Here's a good shot of Meaghan and Joe.
Meaghan and Joe Meaghan did a lot of work out of the saddle to generate power to keep up. I was surprised she could keep digging and come up with paydirt. Joe was strong, and tended to ride away from the group after turns and stop signs.
Somewhere in the 2nd loop, I started to feel a bonk coming on and pushed down some more gels and sweet and salty bars. I planned 2 gels and 1 bar per loop, but this loop I did 3 gels and 2 bars. We averaged 21mph for the second (36mile) loop and had moved our average up to 20.6 as we stopped for the 2nd and final pit stop. We were only stopped for 2-1/2 minutes to refill bottles. I drank some gatorade, filled my bottles with sweetened ice tea (sugar AND caffiene) for the last push.
We started the last, shortest loop (such a good plan to have the last loop the shortest) averaging 20.4 mph. I figure if would could just hold 20mph for the 30 mile loop, we would make it, no problem! Yeah right! it's wasn't going to be that easy. The wind had picked up out of the west and last loop starts primarily west.
We were dead into an 8-10mph headwind, working that double paceline, trying to hold 20mph. We did pretty good for a while, but I think we burned some legs on that stretch of road. The route would go north a bit "yippee!", then more west "ugh - not again!". This was the payoff lap and everyone got serious: Getting Serious
That's Bill our leader, then Joe who had gapped us a bit, the "A" guy behind me. Meaghan struggling into the wind, and Fred huffing and puffing like a steam engine behind her. The slightest hill and people got gapped. We had to slow down and wait a bit each time. Out average pace was slipping. We are down to about 20.2mph and not holding 20mph. It's not looking good.
About 90 miles into it, I'm finally struggling. My legs are twitching and thinking about cramping up. Other than that, I'm ok. The extra gels/food on the 2nd lap helped and I'm not bonking. I just have to be careful pushing the power, and avoid getting out of the saddle. That could set up a major cramp episode. I was thinking "Easy boy, nurse this body through the last 10". This is pretty much what's left of the group at 90 miles. Struggling Pace
Mike is still strong and helping others out, Meaghan still digging, "A" guy, Joe, Wild Bill, Fred gasping, and Me. If you look real close, in the way back is Steve. This guy probably worked harder than anybody in the group. He was noticeable in distress at about mile 50 and kept killing himself to keep on. I think Mike went back and paced Steve back into the group just a bit after this picture was taken.
At about 95 miles, the road had rollers. At this point, we weren't going to make in under 5 hours, and Joe got on the front and put his head down, and took us in. The group scattered. Bill, "A" guy and I managed to stay single file behind Joe. Mike tried to pull some of the others up to Joe, but I think they all blew up. Amazingly, Mike covered the gap and got back in with Joe and his wheel suckers.
With about 2-3 miles to go I put in a long pull to relieve Joe. Being very careful not induce a cramp. The final 2 mile stretch of road is uphill, gaining about 150 feet on Kelly road, which I renamed 'It's a Bitch road'. The simple left turn onto It's a Bitch road, and Joe gapped everybody, "A" guy was torn between chasing Joe
and sticking with the group. It became painfully obvious, though, that everybody was on their own at this point. On a steeper little pitch, I caught A guy and we rode together to the finish. Finish!!!
I think we were just under 5 hours. I called it 4:59:45, but don't know "officially". I do know I rode 101 miles in 5 hours, so somewhere on the road I had hit 100 in under 5.
The rest of the group came across one at a time. Close together Roger gasped in next, then Mike, and Wild Bill. A bit later, Steve, and then Meaghan. Steve could barely stand when he got to parking lot. He was seeing stars. I hung around for half and hour, but didn't see any of the group. They must've taken a long shower or something. I got some more water, skipped the lunch and headed home.
It was an awesome ride. I still can't believe I did it that fast. I don't think I had even ridden 100 in under 6 hours, let alone 5! The support and ride was planned and executed extremely well. The only downside was I found it a bit disappointing that the group disintegrated near the end. Next year, I'd like to get a group together, train during the summer, and ride together. Go for Sub5 and finish as many together in a pack as we can!