I took a good beating on last month’s ACP 300 km ride. I took most of the week off so I’d be fresh for the Tour de Cure (TdC) the following Saturday. I opted to ride the easier metric century. I’ve ridden enough centuries in the past two years that I have nothing to prove in riding yet another. Instead, I wanted to hit the road early, have a good ride, and finish up soon enough to get back home with daylight left. The weather forecast included clear skies and temps rising from 63 to 75 degrees. My CrossRip is awaiting parts to adjust its fit, so I brought out the Domane along with my large Banjo Brothers saddle bag to fit the clothing I would inevitably remove.
I got off to a late start. Not only was I later than desired, my rider packet was missing a wrist band. I told the team captain I was running late and that I’d catch up. I don’t claim to ride so fast that I can catch anyone I want. But I do know how to take advantage of chaos among large groups, disorganization at intersections and other hiccups common within B-pace groups that allow me to slowly gain ground. I only needed to make up five minutes. If all else failed, my rando experience has instilled habits that encourage me to be in and out of rest stops in short order. My fellow randonneurs may disagree since I’m usually slowest in and out of a control point. But TdC’s rest stop food is handy and some Team Killer Bees riders get REALLY social at these stops. I was quite confident I’d catch them at the first stop. 🙂
I think I caught the group about five miles into the ride. As a solo rider, it was easy for me to make my way through the hordes of cycling groups, especially since I started late and was passing them after they had already thinned out. In my opinion, most riders were underdressed and probably needed a little extra time to warm up. I was in tights and sufficiently warm. Given my attire and less congestion in my first few miles, I think it’s safe to estimate that I was riding significantly faster than my team mates at first. Once I finally saw the distinctive orange vest of our team captain in the distance, I knew it was just a matter of time before I caught the team. I slipped into the group just in time to witness a pair of Shetland ponies getting some morning nooky. They gave us a good laugh to start the ride off right.
The first rest stop was as expected… LONG. 😉 I like to visit as much as the next rider (or perhaps not), but it’s tough for me to socialize when I know the end of the ride is not getting any closer. There were a few photos taken of the team. Someone made an “I think” statement about something. My response was “I think these bikes aren’t going to ride themselves. Let’s go!” They knew I was joking… or was I? HAHA! I got off to a slow start because each long stop left me feeling like I had to warm up and loosen my joints all over again. Hey, that’s life on social team rides! The next rest stop brought more photos. Before I knew it, everyone wanted a photo with a different camera. “Can you take our picture? Wait, can you get one with my phone? Here’s how it works. Don’t forget this camera, as well! Maybe another in case someone blinked? Oh, hold on, we need one with orange-slice smiles!” UGH! I thought my head would explode if I saw another camera. I needed some sunscreen and didn’t want anyone waiting on me. So I stepped away as the rest of the team grabbed orange slices.
We eventually got back on the road, one by one, and were spread out at first. Once regrouped, we held a good pace for a while. Later, we came across a guy on a hand-cycle. He had arrived at a rest stop after us. He was amused to park in the open handicap spot before hobbling into the building to use the restroom. “Hey… How did he get in front of us?” Oh, I know! It probably had something to do with him NOT talking with everyone and posing for photos. HAHA! I rode with him for a few miles and learned his story. He was enduring some surgeries and, thankfully, was not confined to a wheelchair or his hand-cycle permanently. He was very confident that he’d make a full recovery and be back on a regular bike. It was just going to take a while. I admired his spirit and viewpoint on why he did not consider himself a Wounded Warrior even though he’s active-duty Navy.
We made good time on the last stretch. I briefly overlooked a rider or two who had fallen behind. When we stopped to regroup, we learned our captain had taken a shortcut. We ran into her as we approached the last rest stop. A few of us waited with her while the others visited the rest stop. We figured the group would be in and out quickly since no one was there. Do you think that happened? Nope! We rolled ahead at low-speed until they eventually caught us. We returned to the start/finish as a team and then relaxed for a bit under our Team Killer Bees tent. The rider reception was excellent, included free massages, and lunch was very good with a choice of three meals. I chose the barbecue pork.
This was my third year riding the Tour de Cure. I highly recommend the experience if you’ve ever wanted to take part in a fully supported and very well-organized ride. The staff and volunteers make it a truly great ride!
Go Team Red!