Zeke and I treated this "ride" as a training race ... one where we would stay together as a team. Since we are going to race TransRockies in the 100+ category, we needed to see how we would work together and see where are strengths and weaknesses lie.
Zeke wanted to start off sooner than the official 8:30am start, but I made him wait. I needed time for my food to settle and I wanted to see how we would work around some of the slower riders.
The first 12 miles to aid station 1 Zeke was blazing trail. I was loving the tight, twisty, whoopty-do singletrack. My legs were happy today. Since this was not an official race, we tried to be very courteous when passing people. But in spots it was still a bit difficult not to rub some elbows as the trail was very tight. And there were times when we would be passed and I was happy to allow them by as I knew they had their own agendas.
I was doing just one bottle, which, by the way is SO NICE; no Camelbak today. We refilled at Aid Station 1 and I choked down a banana. We were off in no time and still feeling the love.
This trail is mentally taxing because a lot of it looks the same and your reaction time has to be quick or you might just end up in the briars, down the ravine, or kissing a tree. It is physically taxing because it is so flat (1675 feet gain in 50 miles) and you are always hammering.
As we neared Aid Station 2 (mile 29), we were met with bikini bottoms, pink flamingos, and Beach Boys tunes. These volunteers were having a great time and treating us riders to some good food. PB&J sandwiches, homemade cookies, pretzels, oranges, bananas, and so much more. I opted just to refill my bottle and grabbed another banana. No experimentation for me today.
After Aid Station 2, Zeke began to lose focus. I could tell that he was beginning to hurt as the pace slowed and a few expletives were directed at the sand pits. Knowing him, I think it was a combination of this type of flat, monotonous course and not getting enough calories in. Later, I learned, he was also having issues with hand numbness.
Heading towards Aid Station 3 (mile 39) I told Zeke that we need to stop for a few minutes and that he needed to get some more calories in. Bypassing the "swamp water", cheddar cheese cubes, and meatballs, I played it safe with a PB&J sandwich. Zeke had a banana and a couple cookies.
Then Jason rolled in upon us. Breathing a bit heavy, he had "raced" to catch up to us; he had started about 15-20 minutes after us. We all left together. Seeing as how he would not be able to keep us with Jason's pace, Zeke took the leash off me. I asked if he was sure and he said yes. I was like a beagle going after the rabbit.
For the last 12 miles I put it in the big ring and let 'er fly. It was a good TT effort for me, to stay on Jason's wheel. It was a good finish to a great day. However, just a few minutes after we had finished and grabbed some water, Zeke rolled in. Hmmm ... somebody else picked up the pace in the last few miles as well. I think next time I will lead the team! No sandbaggers at TR allowed.
What a wonderfully beautiful day! Great weather, good friends, dedicated volunteers, and a fun course. It was good to see Reenie and Tom; they looked very happy to be on their bikes ... and not having to ride on snow!
Zeke and I have a lot of work to do ... but today was a good start.