Ride the Dragon was a relatively under promoted 25, 50, and 100 mile ride which started at Thousand Trails Campground in Gloucester, VA on October 13th. I had been off the bike since last Sunday’s permanent. For one reason or another, I just didn’t ride during the week. So I had little warm up for this ride. With temperatures suddenly dropping to the 40s, this ride was a bit of a drill for winter dressing. Jennifer Hamm and I planned to ride the century together and arrived thirty minutes before ride time. However, we still left 25 minutes late due to trying to get dressed appropriately, packing a few things, and visiting with 50-mile riders we hadn’t seen in a while. I really need to work on my pre-game if I’m going to do well with brevets. 😀 I was disappointed to learn I had left my camera’s SD card in my computer. So I had to resort to cell phone photos. 😦
I had told Jennifer I wasn’t interested in a heroic pace. In fact, I really wanted to take it easy. She agreed and thought it would be good. We got off to a slow start due to the cold. It was just her and me since the other century riders left on time. We were hanging out around 16-mph, 19 or faster on the descents, and (because of me) 12-mph on the climbs. I suspect I could’ve climbed faster. But I really want to go easy and steady to see how it felt in the long haul. We passed this “fixer-upper” a couple of times during the ride.
The temperatures had risen a bit by the time we reached our second rest stop. So it was time to remove or repack some clothing. I was wearing my Gore shell over a jersey and undergarmet. So off came the shell. Then I tossed on another jersey as well as arm warmers. PERFECT… except for how long the stop took. Jennifer and I were being watched by the staffers due to our tardiness. So we had additional conversation with them. Removing our jackets exposed our Team Killer Bees jerseys. So we became known as unmistakable “honeycombs” among those on their radios. “You can’t miss them,” they said! 🙂 We also ran across our friends who were on the 50-mile loop. So we chatted just a bit longer.
I think that stop was around our 30-mile mark. We spent the rest of the ride alone. The slower pace allowed us to talk for about half of the time. We were separated on climbs since she could jam up the hills faster than me. I usually caught up on the descents. Two hundred and fifty pounds riding downhill generates a bit of momentum. 😉 She eased up on the flats if I fell too far behind. Otherwise, we talked and had an enjoyable ride. We saw two other century riders who were about 35 minutes ahead of us. They were opening their lead as faster riders. Eventually, I was able to determine that they were an hour ahead. We were lollygagging a bit much at the rest stops and would pause for the occasional photograph. I have a thing for old churches. This is the first abandoned church I’ve ever seen. I wonder what happened. Perhaps the congregation dried up and the owners could no longer maintain it. I’ll have to research that.
We continued along some good stretches of road and continued at 19-mph in good flats or descents, 16-mph on other flats, and 12-mph on the climbs. Our rolling average was 15-mph. But our overall average was only 11.6-mph. Again, too much talking at the rest stops. Yes, we were the only riders left on the route. But the stops were still staffed (except for the last two… we had lots of food/water and conveyed we had no need for the remaining stops). The organizers did a great job of tracking our whereabouts using handheld radios. They continued to identify us by our matching jerseys. Our return to the campground showed that we were the absolute last to arrive. We packed our bikes, got changed, and then went to the campground store for some ice cream. It was nice to sit and talk more. 🙂
I highly recommend this ride in the future. Ride the Dragon was VERY well organized and boldly marked. I’d be surprised to hear of anyone getting lost. The route was also marked with dozens of large signs for motorists to warn them of our presence. There were about 60 registered riders. Only 15 signed up for the century. Fourteen of us completed it. Again, we were last. Jennifer, a speed demon who’s a stronger rider than me, said she really enjoyed the slower pace. She could not recall the last time she rode a century without feeling wiped out at the end. I agree! I had the usual stiff neck. And my feet were a tad sore. But my hands, quads, and rear end all felt pretty good. Our fellow Killer Bees would not believe the two of us finished dead last, especially so late that no one else was around. We have reputations for riding faster. HAHA! Yes, we can relax… Take care!
Last to Return,