Ray's Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2004 May 16: Strawberry Fields Forever XV

This was the 3rd time I did this ride (although the first time I only did the metric century, not the full century). Like last year, Lauren and I did this on the tandem. We were accompanied by Ed and Michael, and there were some other folks we knew doing the metric century: Ben and Diane (on Ben's new tandem) and Miz and Tom. (We didn't see Ben and Diane at all, and we only saw Miz and Tom when we got to the meal stop at the end of the ride.)

Things started out nicely. It's tough to climb quickly on a tandem, so Ed and Michael had to wait for us a lot initially (the single biggest climb of the ride comes pretty early on the course). Still, we made decent time, and we were comfortable and happy. The big downhill that followed was pleasant once the road cleaned up, but the first part of it was very low-quality pavement, and definitely not a pleasure to be on. As we rounded a corner, we came upon some emergency vehicles (maybe a fire truck and two police cars?) that were kind of blocking the road, and we waited for them to get out of the way. Although we don't have any certain information on what was going on, it seemed pretty likely that some cyclist(s) had had a nasty accident. Hopefully nobody got hurt too badly.

Later on, we attempted to make up for causing delays earlier-- there was a nice flat and slightly windy section of the course where we led a decent-sized paceline (maybe 10 bikes?) at a pretty good clip (well, it was a pretty good clip as far as I'm concerned!). That was pretty fun and made us feel useful (of course, if Ed and Michael hadn't been holding back to hang out with us for the ride, they would have been long long gone already). Then things got a bit hillier, though, and we kind of fell apart, of course.

The food was nice, as always. I ate lots of muffins (I actually love eating muffins, but I usually try to avoid them in the name of a healthy diet), a crêpe at the Russian rest station, and tons of things coated with peanut butter. Since we weren't in a big hurry, we took pretty long rest stops.

Well...initially we weren't in a hurry. But then we realized that we had taken so much time at the rest stops that if we didn't hurry up a bit, we were going to take longer to do the ride this year than last year! Even though this was a "ride" (as opposed to a "race"), we had some small bit of competitive fire in us, and so we didn't like the sound of that.

To make things a bit tougher on us, both of our butts were hurting us for the last 20-25 miles or so. It's funny how some discomfort that's really more or less unrelated to the muscles you use for motivating yourself can slow you down significantly.

Ed decided to help us out a bit on the hills: he rode alongside us and put his right hand on the tandem and helped push it along. I have to say that it made a pretty noticeable difference in our speed uphill! (It made a pretty big difference to Ed, too; he was sweating like a pig.) Now, I know that some of you might call this kind of thing "cheating", but since it was a ride-- and not a race-- I figure all's fair. And we did indeed finish [very slightly] with a faster overall time than we did in 2003. Next time maybe slightly shorter rest stops are in order...

As ever at Strawberry Fields, we had dinner and chocolate-covered strawberries at the finish. We hung out with Miz and Tom, who had arrived there before us.


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