A few weeks ago I did the TOUR DE PICKLE - a 75-miler in four counties out of Mt. Olive, NC. It was a hard day. It was a small ride and I went up alone. There were probably 200 riders and I’m pretty sure only 15 of them were doing the 75. All the rest were doing the 25 or 50 milers.
I started a little earlier than the official start, thinking I could hook into a group that passed me. The first group was a threesome that passed me going about 22mph. They invited me to come along but I couldn’t hang. I literally got dropped in three pedal strokes.
I was able to catch a draft from a group of eight or nine guys. For a while, they blocked what may have been a 10-12mph steady wind that swirled ahead of some storm clouds. I dropped off the back at the worst time. They passed a house with two dogs - a german shepherd and a terrier mix. I was about 300 yards behind them when I watched the dogs leap off the porch in hot pursuit of the peloton. The dogs barked and chased the crowd and stood in the road as I approached. I thought I was a goner. Suddenly, though the shepherd jumped into the ditch (squirrel!) and stuck his head in the drain pipe. The terrier followed him and as I drew closer all I could see their rumps sticking out.
I couldn’t help myself. At just the right moment, I yelled: SUCKA! at them as I flew by. They popped out of the pipe and scrambled up the bank of the ditch to the road. The terrier running full throttle probably matched my speed at 23mph, but didn’t have the endurance. Both stopped after a short pursuit and I rode on.
That was the first of SEVEN dog chases. I counted 22 dead possums. One turtle. And I counted every second of the last 20 minutes in a frog-chokin’ rain. I was so soaked and so tired that I walked my bike over the railroad tracks within sight of the finish.
BUT, I got a jar of pickles at the end!
I looked back on a post from five years ago on how to endure a long ride. I did the Raven Rock Ramble just outside of Raleigh. Here’s a look back [May 5, 2015]:
I now have a few century (metric included) rides under my belt and I'm realizing there are a few key ways to survive an endurance ride.
The first key to survival: cycle with friends.
The first 30 miles were AWESOME. I started with my sister and her friends and chatted my way to the first SAG (support and gear) stop. We talked gearing, triathlon, water temps and more. I was sad when I had to say goodbye to Anna and EVERYONE else at Whitey's Country Store in Fuquay Varina. Jenny Sunshine and I called out our goodbyes and were the only two that broke away from the pack. We were alone on two lane roads for the next 10 miles.
The next thing ya know, we catch up with a couple of former TriStacey athletes. We joked with them, talked about future goals (Ironman Couer d'Alene, Raleigh 70.3), pee intervals and riding without socks. We hung with them for a while and leap-frogged throughout the ride.
The majority of the miles were spent with Sunshine Spice. We laughed. We argued. We debated. We coached each other and raced each other. It was a good mix and it helped me through the hard miles. Most of all, we sang. More on that tomorrow and the second key to survival.
MORE TO COME…….