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RR: Tarwheels Bikefest Century (and Lesson). (LONG)(8 posts)

RR: Tarwheels Bikefest Century (and Lesson). (LONG)VaughnA
Aug 10, 2003 5:30 PM
A little something more boring than 3 mile time trials and cable cars...

A little history. In April my wife and I bought road bikes to help our mountain bike withdrawal due to the incessant rains we are having this year . We got hooked on road riding, I like it as much as mountain biking (Don't tell my mountain bike buddies) . I've done a couple of 60+ mile rides and do 30-40 mile rides almost every week. My wife doesn't ride quite as much but still does the occasional 40 mile ride with 25-30 being her norm. Her longest ride was 43 miles a couple of weeks ago.

Well, some of our riding friends suggested that we do the Carolina Tarwheels Bikefest rides in Hillsborough NC. I would do the english and my wife would go for the metric. The first 62 miles are the same and then you do another 38 miles for the English. I offered to ride the metric with my wife but she would have nothing of it. She said that she would meet people along the way. I agreed and we registered and got the rooms reserved.Our total contingent of 12 riders showed up Friday night in Hillsborough. My plan (and I thought that of the others) was to suck the wheel of the tandem in our group. They are the strongest riders of the bunch and could easily finish the ride in their sleep.

Saturday morning after breakfast (Thanks to the Microtel staff for setting up the Breakfast bar early for us) we registered and got ready to roll. At 7:30 we were off. For the first few miles we slowly rode through town in the biggest group I in my new roady experience had ever seen. I told my wife to have fun and just hung out with her for a while. Then I noticed that our tandem team was standing up! It was time to catch them before they were gone. I told my wife that I had to catch them and took off.

We were passing everyone in sight, 25+ mph on the flats. Being my first time in an "organized" century it was a new experience. Hearing "Catch the Tandem" as we flew by and finding that nobody could catch us was quite a rush. Only one other member of our group joined me behind the tandem. We were flying, about 18 miles out of town I figured it was time for a gel, so I grabbed my flask and took a swig and then it happened. I attempted to put the gel back into my jersey pocket and the next thing I new I saw it skidding down the road.

Not knowing how much food was at the rest stop I felt I had to stop, so I turned around and went back, watching probably 50 riders pass. I got my flask and started back down the road without my towtruck. I quickly fell in with a couple of guys pacing quickly down the road and was making good headway. We caught a large group of riders and then fell in with them. It was actually more work than the faster pace of the tandem or the other two riders because of the constant yo-yo effect of speeding and slowing riders. I actually asked one of the guys that I had ridden back to the group with to go with me off the front. It was just less work than the constant yoyo of the group. But nobody would go so I just rode in with the group of about 25 riders.

At 25 miles we hit the first rest stop and I met the tandem. I refueled and was getting ready to pull out when the others in our group showed up with my smiling wife! She was having a good day and keeping up with the group without a problem! The others said that they had talked her into riding with them and that the plan was to all ride together until the end of the metric. Seeing her smiling made up my mind quickly. I abandoned the tandem team and parked my bike beside the rest of the group. The other guys said that they just wanted everyone to have someone to ride with and have a good time. I felt VERY guilty about pulling away from the group but at least I was back into the fold.

We took off as a group and just set a nice 17 mph pace rolling through the countryside talking about how it felt better to ride
RR: Tarwheels Bikefest Century ContinuedVaughnA
Aug 10, 2003 5:40 PM

We took off as a group and just set a nice 17 mph pace rolling through the countryside talking about how it felt better to ride as a group instead of racing through the century. Everyone was smiling and having a wonderful time, nobody dropped, nobody feeling left out.

We hit the 2nd rest stop at 42 miles and after a quick refuel we were off again. About 10 miles from the metric finish Richard started having leg cramps and slowed down, he convinced us to go on without him, he would see us in town. Even though he was hurting, he helped another struggling rider into town with him. As we did the final miles of the metric we met a couple of other people who pulled in with our group. We all talked and just enjoyed the beautiful weather. Some of the talk was whether my wife Melinda would be interested in trying to go on and do the english century.

We got into Hillsborough and got some water, gatorade and food. Richard and his charge pulled in a few minutes later. His legs were hurting so he decided to call it a day. Not long after we got in the organizers asked who there was going on for the hundred. Almost all of the hands going up were in our group. He was getting ready to cutoff the english ride, and that we would probably be close to the last group out. We were bringing up the rear but we made the cutoff. A few of the folks not in our group asked if they could ride with us since they had been left behind by the faster riders of their groups. Our group was growing. Then I asked Melinda about riding the hundred. She said "I'll give it a try". Wow! She was going for it!

The last 38 miles were much hillier than the relatively flat ride of the first 62. And it was getting hotter. Melinda and Nathan, another member of our group, were getting tired but kept on with a smile. They had a water only stop at 75 miles and the last rest stop at 85. We fueled up and got ready for the last 15 miles into town.

Melinda was revitalized by the rest and was doing great until about mile 90, she then slowly started to slow down. she was tired, she had gone over twice as far as she ever had before and still had 10 miles to go! She kept on pedaling,smiling and groaning.

The group finally split up as we all made our way into town. 99.7. . .99.8. . . 99.9 . . .100!!! As we came into Hillsborough we hit 100 miles on the odometer. A big whoop from both of us as we hit one hundred. A mile more and we pull into the parking lot. It's pretty much empty, nobody left but a few organizers and ALL of our group is there waiting! We get in and everyone is there smiling,cheering, and clapping. We do the same for Nathan who rolls in a few minutes later. There were a few behind our group so we weren't last. But it doesn't matter.

Our average? About 16 mph. But everyone rode together, nobody was left out. We had common things to talk about at dinner, we shared the experience instead of racing through the countryside alone. I regret taking my wifes advice to ride at my pace. I would have missed the best part of the ride, the socialization. But I thank my friends for staying with her until I came to my senses. I learned a lesson that maybe the "social" ride should be the priority.


PS: Thanks to the Organizers of the Tarwheels Bikefest. Everything was great, from the socks in the rider packs to the homemade food at the rest stops, it was great! We'll be back, and we'll bring more people to talk to on next years ride!
RR: Tarwheels Bikefest Century Continuedbianchi boy
Aug 10, 2003 7:22 PM
The Tarwheels Bikefest is the best organized ride in NC, in my experience. Nice scenic route, little traffic, and lots of great food at the rest stops. I've done the metric the past two years, but rode the full 100 with several friends this year. We rode in some fast pacelines for the first 64 miles, and I set a personal best time and average speed for a metric. As you said, the last 38 miles was much hillier and I paid for fast pace we kept earlier. However, I still managed to set a personal best century time as well. What was most amazing is that we didn't get caught in a thunderstorm, even though we've been having daily storms the past few weeks in NC. It rained about 5" on Friday and overnight.

BTW, I think our group passed you along the way because I remember seeing someone drop a gel flask and go back for it. You really don't need to carry much if any food for the Bikefest ride because their rest stops are so well stocked.
RR: Tarwheels Bikefest Century ContinuedVaughnA
Aug 11, 2003 4:25 AM
You probably did pass me as I grovelled in the gravel. I had just passed a large group with the "Super Tandem" . And yes, next year I carry a LOT less food. I wish I had taken my camera but with the threat of rain I didn't want to take chances of getting it wet. We got soaked riding back to Lynchburg VA (Our home base) but not a drop on the ride. I'll miss those flat roads!

Great report, next time take a camera so we can see it too. nmMB1
Aug 11, 2003 4:20 AM
Great report, next time take a camera so we can see it too. nmVaughnA
Aug 11, 2003 5:09 AM
I will. I took the camera this time but with the threat of rain I didn't want to chance it getting wet. I think I'll just take a disposable if it looks bad next time.

re: RR: Tarwheels Bikefest Century (and Lesson). (LONG)willy2351
Aug 11, 2003 3:42 PM
Vaughn, thanks for the comprehensive report. My wife and I each rode our first century at the Tarwheels Bikefest Saturday. It was terrific, due to good weather, excellent pavement, an attractive route and outstanding support. We did kind of get spoiled (and fooled) by the flatness of the first 62 mile loop. I don't know about your group, but we utilized the free showers at the nearby health club and that was wonderful before climbing in the car for an 1.5 hour drive back home. It was a great day.

The only problem is that I am viewing completing the century as a "now, we have done a century and never need to do one again" while my wife is viewing it as "boy, wasn't that great; where can we do a century next Saturday?" Not a bad problem to have, though, is it, especially in light of the long thread above re unsupportive spouse?
re: RR: Tarwheels Bikefest Century (and Lesson). (LONG)VaughnA
Aug 11, 2003 5:08 PM
My wife and I both have the "what's next" mentality right now. She's on a high that I can't believe! Her attitude about our group's Saturday rides has gone from "I'm not fast enough" to "I have no excuses to sleep late anymore". And yes we took advantage of the showers. We're looking forward to more centuries and more riding together. Consider yourself lucky to have a wife who WANTS to ride. Our local bike shop is considering a metric this fall. Bring the wife and join us.