Today was the Tour de Cure ride, in support of finding a cure to diabetes.
I signed up a long time ago for the century ride (for the unwashed: that’s a 100 miles) assuming I would be riding 3-4 times a week and completed 2 or 3 centuries before then. Alas, between writing code for the secret startup, selling the house and moving not much cycling happened the last month or so except for weekend rides. Nonetheless, with the house stuff finally done with (yay!) I was very much looking forward to riding. With its start time of 7:30 am and needing to register required getting to Mendon Ponds Park at 7, leaving the apartment at 6:30, getting up at 5:30. Painful.
Got the bicycle from the basement storage into the car, helmet and shoes there too, the bag with clothing, food, maps and stuff. Travel mug with coffee and I’m ready to go. Many cars trying to park at Mendon Ponds. I find a spot on the side of the road. I get the bicycle out the back of the car, put the front wheel in, the computer on the handlebars, hang the helmet on the handlebar. Pump the tires. There is something more though. I do do these things indeed before the ride and then there’s one more thing that I do with the bike or put on it. But what? I get the mug, take a sip of coffee and stare at the bike. What can it be? Ohh! Drink bottles. Right, they’re still on the kitchen table at Webster Manor. Hmm. Well, I still want to ride, I’m sure the route will soon take us past a convenience store.
With my number pinned to the back of the jersey I roll into the parking lot where the start is, arriving just in time for the team group picture. A large crowd of cyclists is lining up behind the starting line. The different distances start at different times (shorter ones later). I don’t think this many are doing the century so I guess many others decided to get an early start. This leads to the usual hazards: many riders not very good at handling their bikes at slow speeds, many cyclists too impatient, leading to some collisions where mainly pride got hurt. We roll out of the park northwise and then swing back around the park. Already within the first two miles there are several flat tires. This scene will continue throughout the ride: almost every mile you would see stopped riders on the side of road changing tires. Also within the first few miles I get stuck behind a car that is hesitating a very long time to pass a slow group before it. The result is that I loose contact with the team. I try for a couple of miles to close the gap but with a train consisting of Gary, Bob, Dwight, Dave, Ed, Billy and Sara that’s a tall order and I let it go. I’ll need to stop anyways at the convenience store in Rush.
The low mileage of the last few weeks doesn’t seem to bother me as I get a decent clip going. At a junction I catch up with a fellow RBC club member (sorry dude, forgot your name!). He latches on and we ride together to the rest stop at 28 miles. He tells me his dad got a flat and is somewhere behind him. His dad is 72 doing a century ride. That’s impressive. After the rest stop I pick up the rhythm again. The landscape rolls a bit here. With the low clouds, sometimes fog, there isn’t much to see. I start thinking of the purpose of the ride: the cure for diabetes. Several friends and family members suffer or have suffered that disease, including my mother. I pass the time paging through fond memories of my mother who passed away two years ago (just a few of these memories you can find here). And my cat Squeak has diabetes too.
I come past a farm. The owner put a sign on the side of the road: Barrels For Sale. This makes me chuckle. We should send some to BP.
At the Lakeville rest stop (mile 60 or so) I see Gary, Dwight and Larry assisting Larry repairing his flat. Gary tells me the rest of the group is waiting at the top of the hill. I have mixed feelings about this. It is great to see the team and ride with the group but the pace is guaranteed to be murderous. But hey, I’m here! Let’s roll! With the flat repaired we ride up the hill to the group, down the other side. At the bottom we turn right in order to go down one side of Conesus Lake and back the other. The pace indeed shoots up. Till then my ride’s average was 19.2 mph. This is going to pull it up quite a bit. I tell myself I’ll try to stay with the group till we swing around the far end – about 8 or 9 miles.
Halfway, the paceline is moving between 24 and 27 mph, Dave behind me calls out “Slowing!”
A typical warning to cyclists behind you that there’s a significant drop in speed.
I look at the riders in front of me; we seem still to be pacing along nicely, thank you.
So I ask Dave: “Are you sure?”
“Yes, “ is his reply, “I’m very good at distinguishing between 26 and 25.5mph.”
On the other side the road rises up. Two riders from a group we caught earlier are in the middle just ahead of me. They slow down but don’t move to the side. One says: “I got a flat” but they still stay in the lane. This creates a gap of about 50 yards with the group. I think about standing up and riding to them but decide that racing down one side of Lake Conesus is good enough; don’t have to do that too on the other side. I drop the pace coasting back to the rest stop at Lakeville. Okay, coasting is perhaps a bit too much credit: I’m very tired. First Ed then Ginn pass me but it’s all good. I catch up at the rest stop. They have sandwiches here, yummy! I notice that everybody looks tired. While it’s delightful sitting on the chair, after I finished my lunch I get up. I want to ride on before my legs get too stiff. Otto thinks so too. We get our bikes, are about to roll, when I notice I have a flat tire. I use a certain word to capture my, ehh, disappointment. I get the rear wheel out, sit down on a folding chair to perform the repair. The group is ready to go. Ed calls back if I want them to wait. No, please go and ride on. Very unlikely that I’ll hold a back wheel.
With the repair done the route goes to Avon. After a mile or so the road goes up a bit to the I-390 overpass. Right there I’m being yelled at: Peter’s got a flat and the whole group is there. While Peter repair his tire a cyclist with a very nice TT-bike comes walking up the road. He’s got a flat too but no pump. Guess that didn’t fit the aesthetics of the bicycle? We lend him one of ours. He pumps air back in the tire. But only few hundred yards later he already pulls over: with a puncture, just pumping the tire doesn’t get you far.
I let the group go wanting to pedal my own, slower, tempo. After a few turns the road will take us into Lima. Just a mile or so before the village there’s Jack&Jill’s Inn. Their sign always makes me smile: Spaghetti Our Specialty, since 1947. After 60 years you do get really good at it. Just past the inn Larry and Ginn are on the side of the road: another flat for Larry, his third. I stop too. Ginn and Larry seem to have matters under control but I don’t mind the break. We roll on through Lima on our way to Honeoye Falls. And just on the other side of Lima Ed is on the side of the road: yes, a flat. A sweep&safety car stopped here too. They have a good foot pump. Larry takes the opportunity to get more air in his tire than is really possible with our hand pumps. A cyclist we just passed stops too and takes out his front wheel: another flat.
From there our group of four actually makes it back to Mendon Ponds Park without further incident. A nice touch too: at the finish line a group of enthusiastic people clapping for and cheering each rider. One by one we find our cars and change out of the wet cycling gear. Then strolling back to the field where the tents are. Dave Lamb did such a good job with the team that the level of fundraising awarded us with our own tent. Everybody hangs in their chairs. There are some conversations but there are also a few nodding off. Peter and Michael look remarkably fresh as if they mere did a little stroll in the park. We finish the day sipping and toasting champagne courtesy of our team leader, mr David Lamb.
The flats notwithstanding and the tired legs notwithstanding, it was a great ride and a great event. Very well organized. All the rest stops were great especially the sandwiches at Lakeville.