We had an excitingly fast and fun ride today as hundreds of riders of all ages hit the road in support of the Miracle Limbs organization. As I mentioned in the last post, Miracle Limbs mission is to gather and provide the most up-to-date information to be able to refer amputees and their families to effective, credible, well-respected people and organizations that can provide for their needs, and to create a fund to assist amputees in receiving a limb, rehab and counseling.
Señor J and I arrived at North Collier Regional Park before sunrise to find the expansive lot filled with hundreds of cyclists prepping their bikes for the days events which included a 62, 42, 28 and 10 mile ride through the broad avenues of Collier and Lee county. Many riders were gathered around the multiple catering tables, enjoying a lavish breakfasts from local restaurants, while others were snapping up raffle tickets for the large assortment of prizes and exotic vacation packages to far off lands.
We kicked off the metric century at 7:30 sharp, lead by a small armada of Arthrex cyclists in their very unique cyclin kits. As is the norm with big event rides like this, the pace switches quickly from a relaxed fun ride to a full out race almost as soon as you hit the main thoroughfare.
This ride was not the exception to the rule, as speeds ramped up to to 25 MPH within the first mile. The vast majority of the riders maintained a long, fast moving double pace line for the first six miles, but once we turned into the wind on Terry Street, the very hard core front leaders decided it was time to really accelerate as they quickly ramped the pace up to over 30 MPH. I knew then that this little metric century was going to be a hammer fest, but both Señor J and I were up for the challenge.
Speeds never dropped below 24 MPH and often exceded 30 MPH as we blasted our way northward up Livingston Road and Imperial Parkway. The front running group comprised between 18 to 20 riders, but there was a small core of five riders that not only were setting the pace, but were also hell bent on breaking anyone foolish enough to try and hang with them….like I said, this “recreational ride” had become a full on race.
A perfect example of this happened at around the 25 mile mark. I was second in the pace line, which was moving just under 25 MPH. As I was preparing for the ensuing high speed pull, one of the core riders came along side and took the lead from the rider in front of me and quickly accelerated to above 28 MPH. As he did this, the rider in front of me peeled off, forcing me to really burn up a large amount of energy to bridge the gap formed by the speedy rider…this of coarse was the intent…burn out the others one by one, until only they remained.
I was able to bridge the gap, and then quickly gave up the lead for some badly needed recovery in the back of the pace line. I was shaken but not broken. The same tactic was attempted again while riding hard into the headwinds at the airport, but this time I was onto them and pulled out of formation to the rear of the pace line before they could spring the trap again. In fact it backfired a bit on them as they missed the turn off in the airport, which added an extra mile or so to their route as they had to ride up and through the terminal.
The four of us that actually did not miss the turn off, took it as an opportunity to try and distance ourselves, but with only four in our group, it was not possible to maintain the blistering pace of the hard core group as they eventually caught us after the I-75 overpass. They managed to open a small lead over the four of us as we headed into the third SAG stop (we all skipped the first two) located at the Trek store in Coconut Point for some badly needed fuel by all parties…got to love that cold gatorade, bananas, and PBJ.
After the short break, we slowly wound our way out of Coconut Point, and then put the hammer down once again when we were back on Imperial Parkway. With about 10 miles of thrashing left, another rider and I decided to bring it down a notch and hold a 24 MPH pace (nothing slow or easy about that as we were riding against the wind). The three of us had had our fill of the high speed shenanigans, and even at this slightly slower speed, we’d still finish up the 62 miles in under 3 hours, a very respectable pace. And who knows, perhaps some of the hard chargers would crack.
And crack they did as we caught up with Señor J and another rider. They had finally been broken by that crafty lead bunch. My cohort was near breaking, so he dropped out of our little group, leaving the three of us to make that final turn in into the rides end at North Collier Regional Park. As we turned in, we were cheered on by a small contingent of fans as well as a big cheer and some very cold water bottles at the finish line.
It was a fast, hard ride, but thoroughly enjoyable. Señor J was spent, so he was just looking to pack up his bike and head home. I kicked back onto the cool grass waiting on my personal SAG crew (AKA my wife and son) to arrive so that we could dig into the highly acclaimed post ride food as well as participate in the many raffles they offered. BTW, the food was amazingly good as the wide variety featured everything from seafood to antipastos to southern classics like pulled pork, bbq ribs and wings. There was a large assortment of pasta dishes, salads, fresh fruit, and all kinds of deserts…big kudos on the organizers for treating us so well. All in all, a great way to spend St. Patrick’s day…who says you need green beer to have fun!
Route: Miracle Limbs Metric Century
Started: Mar 17, 2012 7:27:37 AM
Ride Time: 3:02:20
Stopped Time: 18:28
Distance: 62.78 miles
Average Speed: 20.66 mph
Fastest Speed: 30.47 mph
Ascent: 220 feet
Descent: 182 feet