Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2013 Fall Tour de St. George - Part II


...After the quick break, I found my new acquaintance, and we were ready to go. 'I didn't get your name,' I said, as we pulled out of the stop and back on to the road. As I said this all I could think was, 'Watch it be Gary. No, it's not Gary. Don't be Gary. Okay, BE GARY!'

'It's Gary,' he replied.

'What!? Gary?'

'Yeah, Gary.'

I couldn't help but laugh. You see, when I was riding in my first event I road for a bit with a guy named Gary who was just as pleasant as this guy, and right about the same age. Apparently, I have a thing for riding with guys named Gary, and I didn't even know it.

Putting the odds of something like that aside, Gary and I were back in the saddle and were getting to know each other. Turns out Gary was from British Columbia, and had a winter home in St. George. As I served my mission in BC, we had a good chat while taking in a few flat miles. When the road started rising Gary was kind enough to let me ride on, but I knew the real hills were still ahead of us, so I didn't get too far in front. I was also good enough to stop with Gary at the next stop so he could refill his bottles. (At this point, I thought it better to ride with someone to help pace myself rather than push too hard too soon and burnout too early in the ride.)


We were about 30 miles in and had two smaller climbs under our belt. Up next would be a quick, short climb of over 300 feet in a two mile span on Red Hills Parkway on the north side of St. George that would then drop down to Bluff Street. Once on Bluff, we would head north for 16 miles to Veyo. This would be the longest climb of the day with ~1,600 feet of climbing over the first 10 miles, with the road turning fairly flat with a little downhill the rest of the way to Veyo. I had climbed steeper sections than these before, but this would still be a challenge for me due to the length of consistent climbing that would be required. (It seems most of my local riding are shorter climbs ranging up to ~5 or 6 miles in length.)

Gary and I stayed together through the climb on Red Hills Parkway, but once onto Bluff Street and headed to Veyo it wasn't long before I had dropped him. (I really enjoyed riding with Gary and all, but it comes to a point when climbing that you don't dare go any slower, or faster for that matter, as you know you will burn out. Had I slowed it would have felt just as painful climbing and it would have only taken longer.) Midway up the climb there was a water cooler for people to refill at, so I did wait for Gary there. But once we were climbing again, it didn't take long before I pulled away.

There wasn't too much passing on this stretch of road. I am happy to report the only passing I encountered was me passing others, as I was not passed until I stopped at the SAG station in Veyo.


Gary got in to the SAG station just a couple minutes later and spoke very highly of my climbing skills. (Don't worry, I know I am a novice, and most people I ride with are better climbers and riders overall than I am.) It was while refilling our bottles the lead peloton of riders doing the full century passed us. It was actually pretty stunning to watch a good group of riders speed by the SAG station just after a good climb and see the group of guys pushing each other to go faster. Gary was quick to refill and run, stating he wanted to get a head start on me and that I would be catching him shortly. I filled topped off the bottles and was on my way.

The next section was mostly flat or somewhat downhill. The only thing I didn't like about the course was the one steep section of road ended with a sharp turn, taking away any chance for me to use that momentum for a quick breather off the pedals. Instead, it was here that I found myself starting to hurt. The funny thing was my legs were in pretty good shape. Besides a quick twitch of my right quad threatening to cramp up when I was trying to attack the peak of the climb toward Veyo, I had no indication of tiredness or exhaustion. Instead, what I found was that my stomach wanted to rip itself out of my body and be thrown under the wheels of the previously mentioned peloton to get back at me for possible neglect.

I hadn't eaten much of a breakfast, and I am still working out what does and doesn't work on longer rides, so I guess this is just part of the learning experience. That said, I do not like it.

All I remember over the first 15 miles of the back 30 was 2 things: 1) Stomach pains are as bad or worse than legs pains when trying to ride; and 2) from the looks of the elevation map before the ride, there was more flat or slight incline riding that what I hoped for. Also, I did not catch Gary until passing him at the last SAG station around mile 65.

This time, however, I didn't stop. I couldn't. My stomach had started to wear me down, and all I wanted to do was finish. My stomach hurt, and my butt was quickly becoming tired of being on such a small seat. It longed for a soft couch or recliner on which it could share the load amongst all parts equally, instead of only one small mid section.

Miles 65-73 are some of the worst road I have ridden. I remembered this section of road from the Spring Tour, and was more than ready for it to be over. As tired as I was, I found myself counting down the last 12 miles to the ride. Each time a would hit a mile marker I would say aloud, "10...9...8!" It was here Gary would pass, yell something negative as he passed for motivational purposes (unfortunately, that does not work on me), and I would see him ride a little ways in front. My legs were getting tired, but I still kept a good pace. Finally, I could see the last hill before the school. I was up it and through the finish line.
(The one time I stopped to take a picture, not the most scenic.)


Gary was there to congratulate me (the family arrived less than two minutes after I rode through the finish line), and I was happy to be done. The route was a great route (outside of the 8 miles towards the end), and SpinGeeks had done a great job putting on the event. I ended up 14th of the 95 that finished the 75 (actually 80) mile course, which is about where I had hoped. Gary finished 4 minutes ahead of me in 12th. Part of me thinks I should have not stopped as many times with him as I did so I could have beaten him. Then I realize the good he did probably outweighed the 4 minutes. Besides, I wasn't in it to win it.

(Pic taken from the Spring Tour de St. George. As I paid like $7 for it, it better get posted!)

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