(I'm in the Mick Jagger pose, Ryan's the tall guy in white)
We woke up at 4:30 am Saturday morning for the big century ride out of Alton, IL. Check in was at 6 am and take off at 6:30. As usual, amenities and support were plentiful, and as we kicked out of the gate from Raging Rivers we were feeling really good.
We quickly met up with a solo-rider, Kurt, who was a great asset to our draft line. About seven miles in to the ride (the first half is really beautiful) we were cruising along somewhere around 22 - 25 mph with the help of a nice tail wind at our back. It was only around 7 am at this point and traffic was light, since we had left the gate about 5 - 10 minutes after everyone else, we were pretty distant from any sort of pack or other riders. I'm assuming what happened next must've been the first of many frustrations for Bubba from Illinois and his '72 pick-up truck...
First, we ride a lot ... we know the rules of the road, conduct / laws (in fact i carry a paper set in my panniers) and plain common sense that keeps us from getting creamed and made in to meat pies on the side of the road. Coming from behind was a deep rumble from said truck that quickly revved up and got way too close, way too fast. This rust-bucket breezed us with about a foot of room, slammed on the brakes about 20 yards ahead and threw it in to reverse. Order of our draft line at this point was: Ryan, Kurt and myself (front to back). I quickly hit the brakes and pulled right on to the small shoulder, Kurt took the left lane and Ryan kind of veered right while i yelled at him to get off the road and out of the way. This happened really fast. Luckily, all he wanted to do was heave his chest and tell us to get off of ... ahem ... and this is verbatim: "my road so i can drive on it." Well ... there are many problems with that short sentence, but one look at this guy and one wouldn't necessarily call him a "gentleman." I really wish i could remember what was said after that, but adrenaline was pumping and our major focus was not getting hit by a truck. Beyond that, in these scenarios it's like talking to a brick wall, a case like this would take some serious coddling and education in the proper forum to make any kind of point. Unfortunately the last thing on our minds was to get the license number, which would've been our best bet. Anyway, all i can wonder is if he ever realized that he had just accosted three people riding for a charity, and if he ever felt ignorant after catching up to the dozens of riders that had left just before us. My guess? Probably not, you can't fix stupid.
Horror story aside, we went on to have a great first 60 - 65 miles. Around 20 miles in, we caught up to a really strong pack from Gold's Gym, we held a rock and roll pace line of about 6 - 10 members, with people dropping off that couldn't hang, and others joining up as we passed them. For the most part it was a solid line of seven people, including Ryan, Kurt and myself. At mile 33, with a time of 1:40:00 we hit the ferry to cross a small river and then down some cold water and calories at a support station. By now we are all warmed up and feeling good but the temperature is getting dangerously hot. It turned out that it was the hottest June 4 ever on record in this area, and man did we feel it.
It wasn't until around mile 70 that we started bonking. A mixture of a hot head-wind, oppressive heat and high humidity, no shade and a constant struggle to stay hydrated made the last 30 the hardest i've ever ridden. This may be too much information, but Ryan and i only used the restroom once during the 6:30:00 ride, and that was at the 20 mile marker. We were drinking a lot of water, but it wasn't enough. We experienced an odd mixture of drink too much: i'll throw up. Drink too little: i'll dehydrate and pass out. We may have also (i hate to admit) pushed too hard on the front 50 and not saved enough of our energy reserves for the back half, but take my word when i say that the last 30 is no joke. There is little to no shade, ridiculous winds and the sun is violent. Plus you almost feel too disgusting to take in the calories that your body needs to do this, which probably also significantly added to the pain and the explosive cramps in my calves.
Suffice it to say, we finished. I'm not ashamed to admit that it almost broke me this year though, there was one stop where i was very close to calling it quits, but then you remember what and who you're doing this for and you dig deep and keep going. Everyone that finished that 100 mile ride is a testament to determination, hard work and big hearts, and it feels good to be in the company of such great athletes. I'm proud to have finished this again this year and raised even more funds for the ADA. Hopefully i can do the same in 2012.