Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Fall Tour de St. George - Part I

Alright, it's been almost two months since the ride, long past when I want to have these things posted. So here goes.

Leading up to the event, I went back and forth as to whether I would do the 80 mile course, or man up and attack the 100 mile ride. The 100 mile course was the same as the 80 mile ride, with two appendages early on that added the extra 20 miles. Herein was the problem, the extra mileage was early in the ride, and well before the two real climbs in the 80 mile course. Not to mention, the extra 20 miles had its own chunk of climbing that I would have to deal with. Long story short, once a buddy backed out of the race that was pushing me to do the 100 miles, and I knew I had the El Tour de Tucson coming the next month, I figured I would take it a step at a time, and be content with the 80 miles for St. George.

That said, I did hope that I would have a decent showing for only doing the 80 mile route. Of the over 500 participants that signed up for the event, about half signed up to do the century, and ~100 were signed up to ride the 80. Now, I know that these events are not 'races', and there wouldn't be much to brag about me opting out of the century ride to put in the measly 80 miles, but I did hope to place at least in the top 25% or so of those doing my ride. Again, this is knowing that the fast riders were actually being real men and going the further distance, but it's good to have goals, something to push you, right? I figured that as I finished in about 6th place ('about' because that is what I recall when the results were posted, but the results link on the website do not currently work) for the 30 mile ride in the Spring Tour de St. George with ~100 riders earlier in the year, this should be a good goal. (I am operating under the assumption that faster, more experienced riders usually go further distances, and I was not much more experienced. Nor was I an any better shape. So moving slightly down the curve would seem appropriate.)


As I figured, the ride started out chilly. What I didn't plan for, was me being a few minutes behind schedule in getting to the race, and starting a few minutes behind the lead group. My loving wife, supportive kids and myself didn't get to the school in St. George where the race was starting until 5 minutes before the start. This didn't leave much time for me to actually get dressed, go over the bike, eat something (oh yeah, not the best idea to only have a granola bar for a breakfast beforehand), and get to the starting line along with everyone else. I did what I could, but still was a little uneasy as I realized I was the last person out of the parking lot.

Luckily, I was able to catch the last of the crowd before they were getting through the starting line. That said, I wasn't too late, but I was still much later than I needed to be as I hoped to see how fast the lead group would take off on the outset of a century ride. But nope, I would just be playing catch up to those going at my pace. At least this way I got to pass a few people that understood things like 'pacing yourself' or 'hey guy whose never done this distance with this much climbing, don't be a fool'. Yup, I passed all of those folks.

(Just after the start, and still cold.)
After a few miles of winding through a few subdivisions of homes, and a quick stop to double check that my back tire wasn't flat (just glad it was nerves that had me over thinking that it might be, and that it actually wasn't), I was on the open road and starting to relax. About a mile or so before the 80/100 course split was finally decided that I really should just do 80 (I'm the guy that says 'Yeah, I told myself to be content with 80, and that is what I told my wife so she knew when to come pick me up, but if I'm feeling good maybe I'll just do the 100.'), and was happy to make the turn. At this point the slow incline pushed up a bit more for a short hill. It wasn't too far along that I passed an older rider, and noticed he was quick to latch on my tail for the rest of the ride up. To be honest, I was kind of flattered that someone would actually think it would be better for them to get behind me rather than go around me.

On the downhill side the guy passed and said 'I should probably take a turn out front' at which point I was happy to let him lead, and take a minute or two in his draft. During this quick interchange I was sure to notice two things (1) he had to be in his 50's or so and was thus a bit older than I was, and (2) looked like he did this much more than I did. (Of course, I think anyone with a road bike that is wearing a kit that is going over 10 mph rides more than I do. And if they are going under 10 mph, they probably still ride more than I do, they are just taking a break for whatever reason.) Based on his speed and his apparent age I was sure to take back the lead after a couple minutes. Before we knew it, we had a few more guys on our line and had a good speed leading up to the first rest spot. 'I'm gonna stop a get something to eat,' the older gentleman yelled 'you can keep on if you want.' 'That's okay, I need to stop as well,' I replied. My late arrival to the event afforded me no time to use the restroom and I knew there was no need to carry the extra water weight any further.


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