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The Tour de Toad

The Tour de Toad

Riders roll out for the 2012 Tour de Toad. (Photo from @LiteracyAction on Twitter)

Sunday, in conjunction with Conway’s annual Toad Suck Daze festival, was the Tour de Toad. This is the first time I’ve ridden the event, it’s definitely not going to be the last time.

I had a great time. Good route, big group, nice pace and it was an absolutely gorgeous day.

Below is a look at the 46-mile route. The map also includes my ride to and from the start/finish point.

2012 Tour de Toad (57.4 miles including the trip from home and back home)

Generally, I post a nice little Strava widget here, so you can get a little inside information as to how I rode. Unfortunately, my GPS crapped out for about seven miles. So, while my Strava info is off, MapMyRide allows you the ability to fix your route. So I fixed the map, added about 15 minutes and came out with a pretty close approximation as to what my stats were for the journey.

The whole ride (my trip there and back) was 57.4 miles. I knocked it out in three hours, five minutes and change for an average of 18.5 mph. For the actual 46 miles of the ride, my average was probably closer to 19, but I’ll never know for sure, since I had no speedometer for seven miles. I feel like my spoke magnet must have slid down to where it wasn’t making proper contact with the speed sensor, thus my computer thought I was standing still. Seems to me, though, that’s when the fancy GPS would kick in and take over, since you really don’t need a speed sensor, it just makes it a touch more accurate (when it works).

Anyway, the ride was fantastic.

The ride benefits Literacy Action of Central Arkansas. I’m all for people being literate, since my employment relies on people reading. The ride rolls out of town from Conway High School. Then over the Toad Suck bridge to Bigelow, Fourche Valley, Houston and then back to town.

Literacy Action’s tweeted that there were 150 rides in the event, that’s about what I would’ve guessed. I was impressed, because of the seeming lack of promotion for the event. I guess it gets a lot of repeat customers. (I know I’ll definitely be back).

We got a lovely police escort out of town. Nothing like blowing through intersections with 149 of your closest spandex-clad pals on a Sunday morning (and all with the police’s permission).

The police rolled off at the bridge and the massive group started to form a double paceline and break up into groups. Shortly after we got passed the bridge, a rider two wheels in front of me bumped wheels with the rider in front of him and took a spill. His Tour de Toad was done.

After we stopped to make sure the fella was OK, a small group of us were working to re-connect with some of those that had motored on without knowledge of the crash. We eventually caught some more riders and were rolling pretty good.

As is always the case, it seems, with me. I eventually outlasted those I was riding with. I never do this intentionally, but when I take a turn at the front of the group, I always seem to look back at some point and find myself alone. I was closing in on a group in front of me when we hit the rest stop.

After a refill and a fig newton, I took off with two of the guys I nearly caught when we stopped at the rest stop. This is where my GPS started giving me grief. Which is too bad, because soon after the stop was a pretty good hill that I know we were flying down, but I have no idea just how fast we were flying down the thing.

The three of us were taking nice pulls, working together well, trying to finish up the ride. We caught a number of riders who were out by themselves. I felt for these guys, since I’m fairly familiar with the feeling. However, when people pass me, I try to hang on. These folks didn’t put up much of an effort if they tried to hang with us. I’m not sure they were interested. We were rolling at a pretty good 20-21 mph pace after the rest stop.

Finally we caught a guy, who fell in with us. Later he told me that he was typically a mountain bike rider, so I think he appreciated a little help from some experience roadies dragging him along part of the way. When we got to the top of the Toad Suck bridge on the way back, the two guys who I had hung with since the break were in front. I had just finished a pull and took my spot at the back of the four-man group. The two off the front accelerated on the bridge, I was expecting the mountain biker to do the same, but he didn’t.

I was stuck now. The mountain biker was slowing down, I wasn’t just in the mood to fly back, but I wanted to stay around 19-20. So, I passed him, and took in the last few miles all alone. It was at this point I realized I should’ve grabbed a banana at the rest stop as my legs started to cramp a little. (They cramped a little more when I hit a pretty good climb later).

But, I rolled on in with a decent time. Upon my return, I noticed that there were just a handful of 46-mile riders back. The majority of riders already enjoying lunch were the group that went just 33 miles.

I felt good about this. After a year of riding mostly by myself, it’s nice to see improvement on an almost weekly basis. It’s one thing to see it when you compare similar workouts online, but a whole different experience when you ride with a familiar group or a new group and can size up your efforts compared to how others perform.

This is the only charity event I had planned for May. Now it’s down to just training for a busy June. Luckily, I’ve got a new route to add to the training repertoire after riding in the Tour de Toad.