Rivers Bridge Ramble 11-07-09
Racing? I'm not sure!
It was the Rivers Bridge Ramble Century put on by the Orangeburg, South Carolina Department of Public Safety, the police department, Orangeburg's finest! It started at the Edisto Memorial Gardens. It is a beautiful spot on the North Edisto River. The gardens are beautiful all year. A trail and wooden walkway take you right over the black waters of the North Edisto River. The rose gardens are spectacular in the spring and summer.
I invented the routes for this century, metric century, and quarter century last year. It takes a lot of time to do this. It can't or shouldn't be done with just a computer mapping program while sitting in a comfy chair.
The routes need to be seen and maybe even felt. If possible, some rough roads can be eliminated to make the ride more palatable for the rear end. A hundred miles is a long way to go on a bicycle saddle. Even sixty or thirty can be rough. Sometimes a course can include any type of paving for "character".
I did a lot of riding with odometers and driving to get the course down to good mileages. The century was almost exactly 100 miles. Without some difficulty of assigning SAG stops and other problems of continuity, I couldn't bring the metric down to the actual 62.5 miles, which is close to what 100 kilometers is. The "fun ride" worked out fine at 27 miles.
Last year, for my efforts, I was given a free entry into the ride. This year I was given another free entry. I would have to drive four hours and more to get there, but I do love that area for riding and the courses are beautiful.
I had ridden a century the week before and did okay other than getting dropped by the lead group earlier than anticipated.
Still my hopes were high enough for an old man of 60. I wrote in a previous blog about how I thought the ride would go:
"It’s not a race. But, it will be a race. The USA doesn’t have 100 mile races much at all. They are too hard to organize. The course should be closed for riders’ safety. This is an open course. The “gentlemanly approach” to these rides is to be safe and not race through intersections while other riders are stopping for safety’s sake. There should be no “attack” after going through such intersections. The “gentleman’s approach” should be to ride safely and follow the rules of “pace-line etiquette” as I’ve outlined in another blog."
My descriptions went further in detail of predictions.
I am a "duffer", at best, when it comes to racing. I do not train for war.
A lot of the guys who showed up for the RBR were trained for war. They have to be. If they are to race as US licensed racers, they have to have the best training. Most US racing is criterium which is sprinting constantly. One has to train to do this. If you don't and find yourself sprinting constantly in this manner, it is a shock to the body and mind.
Even if I could, I wouldn't buy a motorcycle or moped or have a car pull me at great speeds to get my body used to that. Let me accept defeat now. It just isn't fun. But this is some of the training that "elite" athletes go through to "get the edge" on other athletes. They work very hard at training.
My training is going out on Wednesday with a cordial group of folks. We try to keep a main group together quite often. If a good rider (or not so good) is having a bad day, sometimes a couple of the stronger riders will drop back and pull them to the next rest stop. Sometimes the entire group waits up.
Saturdays are the same with some groups. There are many groups from which to choose. I prefer to choose a group by the character and cordiality of the riders and not the ferociousness of the cyclists. A rider can find a happy "medium" in large cycling communities.
I tell people all the time, "Life is just a bunch of tricks". The more tricks you know the better you will perform. This is a truism. There is no magic, though at times, we are sure there is.
I do "my homework" as much as I care to for my age and desires. My homework isn't enough to ride with the elite.
These were cordial and safe riders. They were seasoned.
I hinted that I thought the century might be a little more cordial than it would be in actuality:
"There should be no “attack” after going through such an intersection."
The RBR was more "race-like" in this and other regards. We had a police escort so it wasn't as dangerous going through the intersections. It was fast. Sprinting was a must after every turn.
I had trouble with the turn on Cannon Bridge. I fell off the back near Canaan. The group waited for me at the River but my age, lack of preparedness, feeble body would not hang with this group today. I had no tricks in my own arsenal.
I don't think it matters about my age so much. I didn't train for this war. It didn't matter that I rode a century the week before. I was soft. These guys were harder than I was.
These guys trained in the draft of motors. These guys sparred with the top riders/racers to be better at combat than I. These guys worked a better plan for the situation. These guys wanted it more than I.
I hung on for almost 40 miles. I took fewer pictures than I normally would. I missed so many great shots.I was finally dropped climbing up from the Little Salkehatchie River. It's not a huge hill. It was just big enough. My great friend and more, Jane, waited and pulled me. We enjoyed the rest of the ride emmensely. It was her birthday so we could do as we wanted.
Now we would ride our own ride. We would be in the top percentage of fitness, but we knew that anyway.
This is November. Many racers and racer types didn't show as it's the end of the year. Some take a hiatus from riding hard at this time. Holidays are coming up. The new year coming up is a new season. It's a time of relaxing a bit.
For me, I want to remain as fit as I am. I don't want to be hard as the hardest in body or mind. I want to stay in a reasonable "shape" all year. I don't want to gear up to do battle. I don't want to use costly tricks to better an opponent. I want to live large.
Yes, I want to out-sprint everyone at some city limit signs.
I want to keep up on every hill.
I want to pull my brother and sister up to the rest of the group or to the next rendezvous.
I want to ride well in future centuries and other rides.
I also want to drink some espresso and kick back with my family of cyclists.
I want to encourage others to ride well.
Maybe I'm the master of my paceline.