Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tour de Rock race report

What a great event for a great cause! Things did start out a little questionable. We had thunderstorms move through the area around 4am and looking at the radar, it showed a line of rain stretching across the central part of the state. Bailey came by and picked us up at 5:30am and we made the short trip over to South Side Elementary to meet up with some of the other Cabot Cruisers that were going.

We arrived at Burns Park just past 6:30 allowing everyone plenty of time to get their race packet and bikes prepared. That wasn't a problem though. The problem was rain. When we left Cabot it looked like it was going to clear off but by the time we started getting close to North Little Rock things started looking worse. We seemed to be right on the line of the rain. Some had raincoats, some had umbrellas, we didn't have anything. But luckily it wasn't a driving rain, just enough to get you wet. As we were airing up tires one of the officials came by and was telling everyone that the race start was being delayed due to the rain till 8:00am. Somehow the time passed pretty fast and before we knew it we were lining up at the start line.

The Cabot Cruiser Team pre race

There were a lot of bikers here even with the weather. I would guess at least 600+ had showed up. I'm sure a lot stayed in bed when they saw the rain. The officials wanted the 62 mile people to line up at the front, then the 50, then the 30 milers. Our plan had been that we were going to stay together as long as we could so this sort of messed our group up. Annette, Joan, Jane, Curtis and some others moved to the back for the 30 mile group. Gary, Rock, Bailey, Cindy, me and a few others opted to fit in with the 50 mile group. We didn't want to get caught up in the big pack that would be racing up front so we thought this would be safe.

Some of the crew lining up for the start

The start was uneventful, we rode out of the soccer fields and headed towards the launching ramp on the main road. The first hill at the golf course saw a few near misses as some were having trouble getting up the hill. Then we came to the wooden bridge on the river trail and everything came to a sudden stop. No wrecks I guess, just had to go single file across that little bridge. This was a pain because being clipped in to the pedals you would have to unclip, then ease forward then once it was your turn, clip in and go. Clip in pedals are sometimes a challenge in these situations.

After hitting River Road things started spreading out and we were off. It was very slow on the trail but now we could speed up. We must have had a tail wind because we seemed like we were flying. The roads were still wet and there was on and off rain but luckily it wasn't heavy. My riding group at this time consisted of Gary, Rock, Cindy and Bailey. As we rode down Washington Ave. I talked to a couple newer Cruisers, Lisa M. and her husband who I forgot his name. I rode with them and chatted some, then we made the turn on 165 headed towards Scott. We started picking up the pace here but with the wet roads we could not do a pace line. If you rode the wheel in front of you, you would get soaked from the water spray. You could stay a little to one side or the other and it wasn't too bad. I looked down several times and we were rolling at 21-22 mph and it was easy. I really didn't feel a tail wind but maybe we had one.

Around mile 12 we rolled in to the first rest stop. We were all soaking wet at this point and a quick snack made us feel better. From there we continued on but we had dropped Bailey we thought. So now it was Cindy, Gary, Rock and me. We continued to ride pretty hard, but still we couldn't really hold a tight pace line. Sometimes the road would dry out and we could and this would help our speed. We hit the second rest area around mile 25 or so. As we rolled in there was Bailey and several of the other cruisers. Evidently she had not stopped at the first stop so we didn't drop her at all. I think this was the stop where the volunteer asked me if she could clean my sunglasses. Wow, that was nice. I had so much mud and water debris on them I could barely see. I commend the volunteers on this race. They did a great job!

After getting a snack, bathroom breaks, etc, we were off. Bailey had went ahead with Lisa M. We were able to get a good pace line going with Gary pulling most of the time. Cindy would pull some also. Rock and I just hung on and tried to keep their wheel. It didn't take us long before we passed Bailey and Lisa. Along the way we would pick up riders and drop riders. I guess we must have been really rolling. I know I had trouble hanging on a few times. With Rock being a new biker, Gary would try to set the pace around 17, but usually it was more like 18-19mph and sometimes faster. We were making some good time with the pace group though.

Gary took this while in motion, Rock and me

Rock's longest ride before this one was I think 37 miles, and she had originally planned on just doing 50. Just before the 50 mile turn she made the decision to go for the 62. Hey it's only 12 more miles. This was when the heat got turned up. Cindy and Gary kept the pace going, with Cindy sometimes dropping us a little. Gary tried to keep it a little slower so we could keep up. I know I'm faster than last year but still not as fast as I want to be. The miles rolled on. The pace was challenging at times. We started getting a head wind probably around the 30 mile mark. This made things a little harder. At one point we must have had 10+ bikes in our little pace line.
Somewhere close to the 40 mile mark Gary, Rock and myself sort of pulled out of the pace line and road a little easier for a while. This was nice. At the Scott rest stop we met back up with most of the pack we had been in. Got some drinks, ate a snack and we were off again. Only about 20 miles to go, so it couldn't be that bad right?

Me, Cindy, Rock & Gary at the Scott rest stop

Well, we got in the pace line again and this time they slowly started speeding up. We made a left turn and I lost a couple spots but stayed with the group. Cindy was pulling again, then after a while she came rolling back to the back to let Gary pull. It probably wasn't 5 minutes later and here goes Cindy, riding from the back to the front with no help, passing probably 10 strong bikers. I tell you, that girl is an awesome and strong biker!

With about 15 to go, the guy in front of me started fading, I was hanging on to his wheel then I realized that he had fallen off the wheel in front of him pretty good. If I was going to stay with the pace group I was going to have to pass him and catch back up. Well, I did, and I caught the pack, stayed on the wheel in front of me for a couple miles. Then I guess that little sprint got to me and I started losing ground. One wheel length, then two, then three, then boom, I had lost the draft, the pack was gone and I was by myself.

Before I had feel off we were rolling about 19 with a good head wind. Once I was alone it was a struggle to hit 16-17. I thought oh well, I'm just going to ride this thing out by myself. When I made the turn on to Rose Street I looked over and there was Rock and Gary waiting for me at a little park. Gary had went to the bathroom and they said they didn't know they had dropped me but that we were going to stay together like we had planned. That was nice, and helped me to finish strong. By this time the sun had come out and things were heating up. We turned back on to 165 for the final ride in. We had a 3 bike pace line going and we were doing good again. It wasn't long and we were back on River Road and then the trail to finish up. The only thing I hate about the bike tours is there is not much there when you finish. You cross the finish line, there is no one keeping time, no medals, you just finish. I was glad to be done and felt as though I had a good hard ride with a very good time.

My total mileage ended up being 63.64 in 3:44:00 for a 17mph average. Really not bad considering we had to go slow on the trail and at the beginning we stopped at the wooden bridge. Afterwards we were awarded the trophy for the team with the most spirit. That was pretty cool as we had all worked hard to raise money for CARTI. We had some photos made then ate some barbecue. After that a few of us went down to the Salty Parrot and had margaritas to celebrate our ride and Gary's marathon a few weeks ago where he had Boston Qualified. Fun, fun, fun!!

The Cruisers take the trophy for the most spirit

Celebrating the ride and Gary's BQ from his marathon-Bailey, Gary, Annette, Curtis, Me, Rock

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