Wednesday, August 30, 2006

2006 Ride for the Way North Carolina

Race reporting by Steffen Fohn:
Both the 50 and 100K started at about 8:10am from Finch Park in Lexington. The course was advertised as challenging and in deed became just that for me as the ride progressed that day. The morning was sunny and slightly humid. The first several miles were rolling with a significant amount of uphill. There was an immediate break-away group of ten to fifteen riders, the sight of which I lost within the first 7 miles. Coming up on the 10 mile mark I closed-in on fellow of oriental descent riding one of those "old-timey" know...the kind with down-tube shifters :) ... we'll call him "ole school" in the remainder of the report. I presumed that he had started out with the initial break-away group...only to be eventually left behind. He caught my draft as I pasted him and we cycled together, "pulling" each other through mile 15 at which point we came upon a cycling accident that had occured moments before...apparently, a group of about 5 or 6 cyclists were cranking away at 25 to 26 mph when they noticed they should be turning onto a road on the right. The attempt to make the turn caused one of the cyclists to fall. After stopping at the scene of the accident for a few minutes and ensuring help was enroute, we proceeded with the ride. From reports heard at the next rest stop, the cyclist had luckily only sustained minor injuries Soon thereafter, we found ourselves in a 5 man group. We worked efficiently together as a group, taking turns pulling and maintaining a fairly aggressive pace. We stopped at the 20 mile mark rest stop for fluid replenishments and continued onward with our momentum. The latter half of the ride had us on the return route to Lexington from the High Rock lake you can imagine this entailed a significant amount of uphill climbing. As chance would have it "Ole school" was quite the cyclist...weighing no more than 120 lbs and consistently spinning at 95 rpm made it impossible for us larger guys to keep up with him on the uphills. As we rode, some of the guys from the group were consuming miscellaneous gels and tablets for fuel and electrolyte replenishment. Not stopping at the 40 mile rest stop we pursued our return route sustaining our average speed of 18.5 mph. This continued to the 43 mile mark...where suddenly my body informed me that we'd soon be dipping into the reserve tanks and that I better start conserving what I had left. The 5 man group broke into two groups: a 4 man group and a 1 man group (me)...the 4 man group slowly disappeared in the distance in front of me. The next 21 miles were grueling...characterized by long climbs, 95 degree temperature, full sun on the back, pedaling in my lowest set of gears, and yes...empty water bottles. At mile 59, (unknowingly) at the top of the last significant climb...the grim reaper of dehydrated bodies stared me in the eyes. With 3 miles to go, I could go no further (my body began to feel "shakey" inside and my legs were beginning to cramp)...I pulled over into some shade, called Lori...and asked her to bring me fluids. I waited, disheartened by the passing of several cyclists that I had passed earlier, until one of the race organizers brought me an ice-cold 16 ounce bottle of Gatorade. I climbed back on the bike and started to pedal while replenishing my fluids; amazingly I began to feel better rather quickly. Well...I did eventually make it in...finishing in 3 hrs. 40 min with an average speed of 17.0 mph.

Lessons learned:
- Watch out for the "ole-school" riders, that is anybody you see riding on that classic's really just a ploy.
- Keep those water bottles full.
- When riding 100K on a 95 degree day, bringing your own fuel and electrolyte replenishment is a good idea.
- Don't ascend Stone Mountain (or anything like it) a few days before this race.