Well, first off, sorry for the two-week absence. I didn’t realize it had been so long since updating. I get extremely busy during the fall, so finding time to blog around work, cycling and the rest of my life might get a bit tricky. But I’ll try to keep this thing alive.
This week, I have something to report about. Saturday was the Conway Fall Classic, right here in Conway. The ride benefits Conway Advocates for Bicycling and the Conway Interfaith Clinic. Two organizations I don’t mind plopping down some money for at all.
Therefore, you would think that as the rain became more and more steady as I pulled into the parking lot for the ride that I would’ve just said, “Oh well, too nasty to ride. Enjoy my donation.”
But, that’s not how I roll. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. My mind was made up. I signed up to ride 62 miles. The rain wasn’t going to stop me from doing this.
I heard other riders saying they were going to opt for some of the shorter routes. This makes me rethink my goal. But then I heard some riders say they were still going to go 62. This makes me feel like I won’t be alone. So, again I am firm in the 62-mile route.
The 62-mile route covers three counties and goes from Conway to Morrilton to Houston to Bigelow and back to Conway. Nice little route that I had studied and was prepared for. Another reason I didn’t want to go shorter. I wouldn’t have any idea where I was going.
We took off. We had a police escort out of town, always nice. Once we turned onto the Old Morrilton Highway, the ride really got going and everything sort of starts to shake out.
I felt like I was in a pretty good position. Had a nice size bunch of riders around me, and we were going at a pace I liked. I also recognized some of the people in this group as guys that said they were going the full 62. Great.
Well, for a while I took up position on a guy’s wheel. I noticed the front of the pack pulling away from us. I didn’t think it a problem, because I thought the guy whose wheel I was on was going to be going 62 and I figured we could just work together and we’d pull in some more people somewhere along the way. Well, soon another guy attaches on to us. So now we’ve got a trio of folks. These guys all looked like they’d be going the 62 miles. I felt like I was still in a good place.
The guy behind me made a move to the front at one point and actually pulled away from us. We pulled him back and he was back in third position soon. This is when I should’ve started asking questions about what these guys plans were. Instead, I just kept riding along, trying to not totally fuck up in this downpour.
We were clicking off the miles at a good pace, and I felt like I should take a pull on the front. I had been riding second wheel for a while. High time I should do some work. So, I move on to the front and more or less keep the same pace. Well, after a few minutes I look back to make sure the two guys I was with were still with me.
They were not. I had dropped two guys by going to same exact speed as I was before I passed them. Jesus.
The group that had pulled away from us a lot earlier was surely a good way up the road. And I didn’t really want to wait for the two guys I had seemingly just dropped. So here I was, alone. The first time that’s happened to me during a charity ride. Generally you can always find a good group that goes your pace to ride with at these things. But the weather messes everything up. Less riders, less people willing to do the long route. Blah.
Oh well, I thought, I’d keep going and just maybe I’d catch the group in front of me. I really doubted this, since I was all alone, but you know, I tried to stay positive.
As I got to Morrilton and rolled onto Highway 9 to head over the Arkansas River and onto Houston, I did see the guy that had been behind me earlier. He wasn’t too far back. I wasn’t going to wait, but I thought he might catch me eventually, and then at least I’d have someone to help me out. If nothing else, I thought I’d meet him at an aid station.
I did meet up with three folks at an aid station. We took off together and rode together for a few miles. But then came another split between the 45-mile ride and 62-mile ride. They went 45. I went 62. Alone again. And again, I time where I thought for a second maybe I should’ve just taken the short route. But, again, I thought, “I signed up for 62. I planned on going 62. I’m going 62.”
I mean, I was already soaked at this point, why not go ahead and do what I set out to do.
So I trudged up hills, the rain would slow and then come back full force. I was watching the miles tick by and my average speed tick lower and lower. When saw 45 miles pass by on my computer, I thought, “Well, hell, I’d be eating lunch right now.”
Then, I just sort of tried to enjoy the ride. At this point it was basically just like any other solo ride, only I was wearing a number and it was raining. I was just trying to get through it.
The next turn marshall I saw informed me that there were seven riders in front of me. Not bad, I thought. In any other event if I were the eighth rider I would’ve felt pretty good. And it did lift my spirits some. For the longest time, I thought maybe I had been the only one dumb enough to ride the long route. But now I had confirmation that at least seven others did too.
As I approached Bigelow I actually saw people on bikes again. They were pulling away from the aid station. I don’t know if I could’ve caught them or not. I definitely wouldn’t if I pulled in to the aid station. But, I never stay long at aid station and I was hungry. I got a banana and a cookie and was back on my way fairly quickly. At the very least, I wouldn’t pull in that much later than the folks I saw pull away.
As I was leaving the aid station I heard that there were two more folks behind me. Great, I wouldn’t be the last one in. And now I know at least 10 people stuck to doing the long route.
I was at peace with the decision I had made and now was just dead set on getting back and enjoying some lunch.
I rolled into the parking lot. There were still a lot of vehicles, lots of bikes back on racks. I expected that, most people did opt for shorter courses. I thought I’d see some people still getting changed into dry clothes or just getting there bikes settled back on to racks, though. But I didn’t. Now I thought, well maybe everyone just rolled right into eat without putting on some fresh clothes.
I threw my bike back on my rack, pulled off my gloves, hat and helmet and went clomping into the building for lunch. Dripping wet.
A woman leaving the building said that they had waited on me to eat. I thought she meant that no one had started eating. I didn’t like this. I didn’t want to be the one holding everyone up. Well, I guess she just meant they hadn’t taken the food away, because when I rolled in, they were most of the way through an awards/raffle giveaway and it looked as though everyone was in fresh dry clothes and had already eaten their lunches.
Alone again. Eating in wet clothes, while everyone else is dry, happy and full.
As I sat there devouring my pizza, I was just becoming enraged. I have no idea why, but I was just pissed now. I felt like I should’ve just thrown my bike back on my car and went home.
I was finishing eating when they began stacking chairs. This didn’t help my mood. I finished up, threw away my trash and headed home.
I was angry at the time, but I don’t know why. I guess it’s just frustrating to think that on any other day, I would’ve probably been middle-of-the-pack or higher out of a much larger group of 62-mile riders and I wouldn’t have seemed like the last person in eating lunch.
Really, I’m pretty proud of myself. I managed to make it the entire 62 miles, most of them by myself in the rain (pouring at times) and still averaged 17 mph. On a nice day, if I had a group with me, I figure I’d have been much closer to 19 or 20 mph. But I was happy with my time.
I’m not going to let the little annoyances get to me. This wasn’t about whether I would have a nice lunch with fellow cyclists or not. This was about me riding 62 miles and donating some money to two good organizations. I accomplished those things. So the day was a success.
And I’ll be back next year. Hopefully so will the sun.