Well, I finished my 300k Brevet in record time! Two years ago I rode the same Indiana 300k in 18 hours, yesterday 17:26 minutes! It was a very successful day, but it wasn’t…
It was a early start to the day, I was up at 02:45 and out the door by 03:15 to get to Indianapolis by 05:30 to get the bike ready for the 06:00 start. All went well and after some short instructions from Bill, the RBA, the seven of us were off!
I tried to stay with the pack, but that only lasted about half a mile:) I pulled around some folks and was leading the way. Before I knew it I had company! A rider I had not met before, Joe. About a mile in we where talking and not paying attention and found ourselves off course… that didn’t take long! We should have been on the very rough bike path, not the smooth road, oops. So we were back with the pack.
About 5 miles in we were on the south side of downtown and there were three of us, Joe, Junichi, and myself. We rode together until I realized my belly needed food, so I slowed a touch to attend to it and they pulled ahead. I ran into them a few miles down at the next Control. They left about a minute ahead of me. I thought I might be able to catch them but I didn’t. Considering it was nearly a 200 mile bike ride, I didn’t try too hard. I did catch up with them at the next Control in Nashville. Here I rolled out right behind them and kept pace with them for a few miles until we hit the big hills and they were GONE!
I rolled into the Control in Freetown. I love this Control, it is called Denny’s Grocery Store. The first time I was expecting a small grocery store, but nope! It is a very old, very, very tiny gas station. Most gas stations you stop at have about 10 times the product offering this little place has, it is very cute. I got there as 11 am was rapidly approaching and a mom and dad had a table set up selling baked goods for some local charity or something. They had their son there who had a million questions! I love inquisitive minds like that so I happily answered them all.
At the Control I learned I was about 10 minutes behind Joe and Junichi. Being less than 15 miles from the turnaround control in Seymour, I figured we would cross paths as I was going in and they where going out, but… I got to the turnaround Control before they left. For the most part it was a really flat ride from Freetown to Seymour. After some quick pictures and a quick signing of my Brevet card, we all rolled out together.
While I have the power and fitness to keep up the pace on the flats, the extra 100 pounds of weight I carry slows me WAY down on the hills. Joe was riding strong so he pulled away from us as we returned to Freetown. I could tell that Junichi was also stronger than I was and pondered how much longer we would be riding together. It turns out not much past Freetown.
Most of the 25 miles from Freetown to Nashville is this beautiful road, IN135. The views are breathtaking! There is a minor problem; it is one of those roads that EVERYONE knows about. So on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, EVERY motorcycle and EVERY convertible is out doing the exact same thing I am doing, taking in the sights! It didn’t help that the winery at Story was having some big event. The result was as I was outbound the inbound traffic was crazy! It is a wonderful road, but busier than suits my fancy.
This is where I ran into my failure! Now I do spend too much time on Facebook and there are one or two cycling groups I like to read. A few weeks back someone posted a video of a cyclist and driver yelling at each other. I opined that the cyclist should have been a loving (Christlike) ambassador for all cyclists and not yelling at drivers, even when being yelled out. Well, it turns out knowing something and living something are two VERY different things!
I finally got to the end of IN135 and needed to make a left onto IN46. IN46 is one of those two lane roads with big shoulders, it is a MAJOR thoroughfare between Columbus and Nashville and very busy. On this Saturday it was more heavily traveled than I had seen it in the past. One had to wait to find a gap to make the left turn. There were times when you had to make your move without the spacing one would like to have, too. Oh, and there was a line of cars behind me.
I did something to piss off the little white pickup truck behind me, I think it had something to do with pulling past them and not turning with the car in front of them. They honked their horn at me. What did I do? Did I lovingly move aside and let them go before me? No, I turned around and yelled, “WHAT!” in a very irritated fashion. They then yelled something at me, and I flipped them off! So much for being loving and Christlike! To make it worse, when I did go, I went just slow enough that I was safe to get across but they would have to wait for the next car to pass.
I find it sort of funny how God will always convict you when you are out of line, but only when you are ready to receive the conviction and change your ways. I clearly wasn’t ready yet! As I left this little exchange, I was clearly not ready to receive what God had for me, so he simply did what all good parents do, give me just enough leash to learn, but not too much to get into serious trouble…
About 3 miles later I rolled into the Nashville Control. Since I was hungry I opted to make the Subway the Control. I was at a T in the road. The route called for a right turn into Nashville. The Subway was on the other side of the road on the right. I could have simply gone straight into a parking lot shared by the Subway and a few other businesses. I thought I was going to make the light so I was going to go straight, but I didn’t, so I thought maybe a quick right and cut over.
Well, as I sat in that area between the lines of going straight and turning right another gentleman starts yelling at me, “WHERE IN THE HELL ARE YOU GOING?!” Considering I was tired, hungry, had been up since 02:45, had cycled 134 miles and was already annoyed with the encounter at the last intersection I did what was natural – I yelled back. I don’t recall the exchange, I just recall Jesus stepping in. At some point he yelled in that swearing way folks do: JESUS CHRIST! That got my attention. I didn’t turn into an all-loving Christian, but it brought my defensiveness to an end. He moved on and I, more than likely, broke a few traffic laws by making the right and than cutting over.
The nice thing about these long rides is that God has a long time to slowly work on ya. As I left Subway, I thought: Dang, there are simply a TON of folks out here! Nashville is this small historic artist’s colony in the mystical blue hills region and it was HOPPING with a million people. Two years ago when I road the 300k Brevet, there was a festival with roads blocked off. That wasn’t the case on this occasion, and it was still packed! It’s most definitely a place I want to take my wife, I think she will love it. But at this point, I just wanted to get out of town, back into nice quick country cycling even though the next thing on the agenda was to climb up Greasy Creek Hill.
This hill seems to be legendary; lots of folks have mentioned it on the ride and on FB. It defeated me twice two years ago on both the 200k and 300k. I finally climbed it successfully on the 200k last year. It is one of those hills with a LONG slow climb up starting at 1% and slowly getting to 6% over the course of about 2 miles just to make sure your heart rate is up a bit and legs are a touch fatigued. Then you start to really hit the climb, about 1000 starting at about 6% and in the last 100% it hits well over 25%!
This year was different; I knew without a question I was capable of climbing it. There are hills steeper and longer in Ohio that I climbed early in the year, the question was really: did I want to? I figured why not, it was quicker than walking, but I didn’t feel the need to kill myself doing it. I got to within 20 feet of the top, doing 2 mph, huffing and puffing. Than it happened, a truck came up behind me. I had my excuse: I didn’t want to fall off and end up on the under-side of some big pickup truck. I jumped off the bike and walked the last few feet. Truth be told, I simply didn’t want to kill myself knowing all the riding I have scheduled, with the 400k next weekend followed by Devil’s Week. The 60-second break was nice. When I looked at Strava, it seems I still climbed the hill only 9 seconds slower than last year when I did ride to the top so I am happy!
My favorite thing about cresting Greasy Creek Hill is not getting getting to the top, but knowing that I only have about 1.3 miles on the IN135, which is pretty busy on this stretch before I am finally back on Spearsville Road, a quiet country road!
Folks always say, “Go with God’s speed”. Let me tell you, that doesn’t mean FAST! God has all the time in the world and his speed seems to be way slower than many of us like…
I made the right turn onto Spearsville Road and almost immediately had three cars pass me. I was NOT happy – this road is supposed to be a nice, quick, peaceful road! I thought to myself, what is wrong with these people! Than I realized, oh… maybe they like a scenic drive just like I like a scenic ride! And then God started working on me about the second driver, how I was really completely out of line and how I was fully aware of that fact and simply did not want to admit it to him. I should have been humble and apologized rather than yelling back. I played the encounter back in my head a few times. Each time I imagined myself more apologetic and forgiving. I chuck that up to God letting me practice for next time. You know what they say, practice make perfect. Hopefully next time I will not be so quick to fly off the handle. More than likely I will need a lot more encounters of me doing dumb things before I learn to reply with a humble heart. I know God will be with me every step of the way, helping me become that humble servant I was created to be☺.
The rest of the ride in was, for the most part, uneventful. The sun was starting to stretch itself out making for a nice late afternoon ride. I finally rolled in to the finish at 19:26.
The course was not new to me. The first 2/3rd of the course is the Indiana 200k, so all told I have ridden most of the course three times. One thing was very different this time: I now have a Garmin Edge 820 GPS rather than using my phone. When the Garmin Edge is loaded with a course, it can show you elevation profiles of what is to come. I tend to look at it when going up hills and I am going slower than I like.
For example, when I turned off IN135 onto the Spearville Road I was not maintaining the cruising speed I expected. I flipped over to the elevation profile. Holy cow, I was climbing and doing a LOT of it! That explained why I was going so slowly! All in all, I really like this feature because when I have cycled 140 miles and have 47 to go, it is nice to see that it is gravity holding me back, not the fact I was beat into the ground. Later when it was flat I was able to keep cruising at my normal pace even into light headwind. The elevation profile feature is a very helpful little feature of the Garmin!
All in all, it was a wonderful ride. I made a stop at Chipotle for dinner and headed home.
Along with God reminding me that I am really a developing Christian and have a long, long way to go when dealing with high-stress situations, I also learned that I don’t have the strength I thought I had.
As I mentioned in my last blog, starting Memorial Day I am riding in Devil’s Week. That is a complete series (200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k) in the span of 7 days! The plan had been to bike camp the whole thing. The 200 & 300 are in the same basic place, then there is a gap of 90 miles to the 400 and another gap of 90 miles to the 600. I was going to cycle those gaps on the off days. I have realized that I really will need those days to be super light cycling, an hour or two to keep the legs loose, but otherwise I will be car camping, not bike camping.