Thursday, October 8, 2009

City to Shore


On Saturday October 3rd, my fiance, Brother, friend, and I rode 102 miles from Cherry Hill, NJ to Ocean City, NJ. To thank all of you who read this blog, I wanted to give you the "play-by-play" so to speak...

We woke up on Saturday at 4:30 to get ready. By the time we'd had breakfast, loaded up the cars, and picked up my friend, it was 5:35. Our ride time was at 6:30, so we were running slightly later than I had anticipated, but it was only supposed to take 50 minutes to get there. Close to two and a half hours later, we finally got on our bikes. We'd totally missed the start time for century cyclists (which we were a part of) so we joined up with the group that was rolling out as we were rolling in. It turned to be the teams group. As you can see from the pictures, we fit in pretty well.

My brother and I were so amped up to get the ride started we started blowing past people which meant we were leaving my friend and fiance behind. WHOOPS! We realized the mistake and slowed down for them. Apparently at 8:00 in the morning, the Elicker boys don't need any warm up time. The next thing we knew, we saw a sign for the first rest stop. We'd been riding for an hour and had gone 20 miles and didn't even realize it! Since none of us had hardly touched our water bottles and nobody was hungry, we just skipped the first rest stop.

The second rest stop came up quickly. At that point, I was starving. We stopped for the "lunch stop" around 9:30. I'm not even sure that qualifies as brunch on a normal day, but since we were up at 4:30, we ate. I had a PB&J, nutrigrain bar, and a chicken sandwich! Talk about fueling. That was the last time until dinner that I ate anything other than energy bars and gels.

Once we got back on the road, we went strong as a group, sticking together pretty well. At around mile 45, we started the Century loop. It closed at 11:00. Despite being late to the start point, we made it there by 10:30 and got on. I decided to do what cyclists refer to as a "pace line." For those of you who don't know what that is, you put one person in the front of the line and everybody else drafts off of them making it a lot easier on the people in the back of the line so they don't have to work so hard. I was pacing really well and had a good cadence (rotation per minute of your feet) at a decent speed of around 17mph. I had my fiance, brother, and friend riding right behind me, and as I continually looked back to check on them, I noticed a longer and longer line of riders catching onto the line. It was really cool. I almost felt like I was in the Tour de France. haha.

So about 8 miles of pacing later, I felt a pop. No, not a flat tire... a broken spoke. The nipple of the spoke, actually, which is the part that connects it to the rim of the wheel. Crap. Again, for you non-riders, this isn't something you can fix on the side of the road without tools and spare parts. The four of us stopped and watched our pace-line go flying past us. We stood on the side of the road waiting for a repair truck or SAG (support and gear) wagon to come along. 20 minutes later, my brother rode up to the next rest stop, which ended up being 3 miles away, to try to get someone to call a SAG wagon out for me. He called my cell to let me know they were coming, so I sent my friend and fiance up the road to the rest stop to wait. I figured if the SAG came, I'd just be picked up and brough to the rest stop to get my bike fixed. Instead, a repair truck came first. He stopped and fixed my wheel in about 15 minutes. So 45 minutes after the broken spoke, I was back on the road. I was also the last person on the century loop. THE LAST PERSON. I tore off at about 25mph for the next three miles and got to the rest stopped, filled my water bottles, and got back on the road with my friends. I felt terrible for making everyone stop for so long, so I tried to pace everyone out again, but everyone was tired and our muscles were tight so we had to go slower than I think most of us wanted to, but such is life.

The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful until the end. We got hit with a little bit of rain after we got through the rest of the century loop, but nothing too bad. We skipped another rest stop so we wouldn't get tight again, and then just kept pedaling. Once we got closer to the bridges leading into Ocean City, the wind really kicked up. We probably had gusts of about 20 mph. Unfortunately, these bridges were the only two hills on the entire ride... and they're big. My fiance and friend told my brother and I to go ahead of them and just get them done, so we did. We stopped and waited at the end of the second bridge and waited for them. Once they both caught up, we started off again, together, for the ride through Ocean City. As we were about to make our last turn we saw Mom and Steve (my step-dad) who had been there for an hour or more taking pictures.

After crossing the finish line, we went to grab some food, collect our prizes, and then met up with Mom and Steve so we could walk to the cars and drive back to Cape May, where we have a beach house. We got down there, grabbed some showers, and then got to relax! Mom made us chili for dinner and brought some beer for everyone. We each had a few drinks and plenty of dinner. Later in the evening, after sitting around talking for a while, we went to bed at around 10:00.

It was quite a long day, but we made the 102 mile ride in 6 hours and 15 minutes with an average speed of 16mph. It was fantastic. Next year, I hope to make the 75 mile ride each way. I'm glad to have completed my first century with three of my best friends in the whole world and I hope that they all continue to share the passion of cycling with me.