Sunday, October 08, 2006
A Comfortable Level of Pain
The Seagull Century.
This is my friend YoungBill.
He rides his bike fast.
He REALLY likes to pass people. LOTS of people.
So that's what we did at the Seagull Century.
Here's how it went down:
Our Team had at least 12 people pre-reg'd for this ride. In the days leading up to it, we heard many an excuse :
"I'm not getting wet again like last year."
"My dog ate my rider number."
"That's a boring, flat, century." Umm, why did you register then?
"I broke my collar bone." OK, Harlan DID have a good excuse.
The night before Bill sends out notice that he will be going rain or shine.
I respond saying I would too as long as the wind was below 50mph and the temps above 40.
Minutes later I check the weather channel and see they recorded a 63mph gust at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
12:30AM Saturday morning - My power goes out
12:31AM - My neighbors start a power's out party that goes on until 4AM
4:30 AM - Power still out, I get up late and try to pack up my stuff in the dark
4:45 AM - I go outside to load up my bike and gear and it's raining hard and sideways.
5:05 AM - Meet Bill, transfer stuff into his van and we're off.
5:30 AM - We reach the north end of the CBBT. On the way we were buffeted by wind and rain. The Bay had 10-15 foot swells that looked like they were almost breaking over the roadway. We see a couple hundred semis pulled over and waiting to cross going south. The bridge tunnel was closed to high profile vehicles for most of the night.
6:30AM - It's still windy and blowing sideways rain. We can hardly see the road. I tell Bill I don't think I'll be riding if it was like this, but it should be better 70 miles up the road.
8:00AM - We arrive at Salisbury University and the weather HAS calmed a bit. Raining, but not much more than a hard drizzle. Still really windy. We're a bit surprised and glad to see there were a bunch of people out there riding already.
It rains for the first 2-3 hours of the ride, but never REALLY hard. On the way we pass many people, some hop on our wheels for a tow. At one point I roll off after a 15mph pull into a 30mph rainy wind. Our two person group has swelled to 10-12. I sit at the back and suck up tire spray for about 20 minutes. That was the worst part of the whole ride. I drop off the back. It was more comfortable battling the head wind on my own than catching all that road grime and spray in my eyes, nose and mouth. Bill takes his pull than drops back with me. Together we go on to pass the paceline as it shatters.
Things were getting a bit sketchy as our group would grow. Lots of unknown riders doing crazy things. The safest most comfortable places were at the front, off the back, or tucked in behind YoungBill.
We see this dude and his human powered SAG wagon .....WHAT?
Lots of people getting flats, so of course I had to get mine. Shard of glass. As we're fixing it we remark at the wide variety of riders and bikes we see. Everything from kitted out racers to mountain bikes, and everything in between. Recumbents, even a bunch of rollerbladers.
Some people with funny ornaments and flags on the tops of their helmets.
YoungBill says "That's got to add a lot of wind resistance..............but I guess they're just out here to have fun."
"So Bill, ummm, just why are we out here?"I ask. Oh yeah, I forgot ...... to pass people. Then we agree that we're out here to find that "Comfortable level of pain." Oh yeah, and pass some more people.
Paul hung with us for the first 50 miles or so, then he goes down. Crosswind, unknown riders, wet roads, wheel overlap, it was bound to happen. Banged up knee, messed up front wheel. SAGed in.
The causeway to Assateague Island is totally exposed. One of the workers said the crosswind was 50mph. Many people just walked it. You had to really lean into it not to get blown over. On the other side of the road we see a guy off his bike crouched below the guardrail to avoid being blown over. The Asseteaugue rest stop (-->) 63 miles in.
We made it back over the bridge, then on to the last rest stop at 84 miles. I have a rule for centuries - Never stop at the last stop. Just makes it harder to get going again. But this stop is special. I've heard about often from many people. Homemade pie and ice cream, live music. Bill likes the pie.
"Brandy, you're a fine girl........ what a good wife you would be................."
I felt really good the last 20 miles or so.
We wrapped it up, picked up the t-shirts of our excuse-laden teammates, and drove home.
We marked all the shirts with a Sharpie in big black letters - "NO SHOW"
Good call on marking the t-shirts!