The Tour de Lake started bright and early on a foggy Saturday morning. Fortunately we had the police squad to escort us through the busy streets of Irmo. The course was organized well with both road markings and signs directing each turn, so despite the poor starting visibility, this ride went off without a hitch. Unlike other recent rides in which I have participated, this was not nearly as intense at the beginning. It started casually, at a decent pace. Some people went a little faster than others, but it did not have that race mentality, which was a nice change. I wasn’t tempted to push harder than I should.
Temperatures were moderate in the mid-50s to low-60s while the fog lingered, until around noon. This made the lake route a little less scenic during the early going, but without the scorching sun over our heads it was a relatively easy ride during the early going. Once the clouds burned off, they did so in a hurry. It seemed like the change was instant, as if someone pressed a button to change from cloudy weather in the 60s to sunny weather in mid-80s. Fortunately we were at the end of the ride during the hotter stretches.
This ride was uniquely organized. There were only two route options, a century and a 40-mile bike and boat ride. For the latter, riders would meet up at the Lake Murray dock, where at 12:30 a boat would serve lunch while taking the group through a slow tour of the lake. We took the 100 mile route, which turned out to be a good thing. We would have arrived at the dock before 10am with a couple hours to kill. From what I understand after talking with those who took the shorter ride, they had a great time and the boat was well worth the wait.
My goal for this race was to have a relatively smooth ride. I needed to practice a few things that would help on Mount Mitchell, like eating on the bike, moving bottles around, just getting comfortable doing necessary things on the bike. I had plenty of time to do that and made some progress that will help in three weeks. After starting out at a quick pace and riding alone for about 10 miles, I dropped back to ride the rest of the way with some friends. They did not care to stop, which worked out fine for me. We stopped twice throughout the century, at around the 35 and 80 mile markers. We kept a smooth pace throughout the ride, staying in a steady, alternating paceline at around 16-17mph. There was no hammering, just smooth, easy pedaling. As a result, this was by far my easiest century. I felt great afterward. In fact, I was able to put in 48 slow recovery miles the next day.
This was a great ride and I will definitely take part next year. I commend the ride organizers and the Irmo police department for putting everything together. The only complaint we had was that no cue sheet was provided before the race. We were puzzled on where the rest stops were located and where the route would be taking us, but the course was marked so well that it generally did not give us issues. The roads in this area are used for a number of other local rides, so it was refreshing to see actual signs pointing out turns to alleviate the marker confusion. What was also nice was that the police presence was there when we returned to town in the afternoon. All too often these rides are supported early on when traffic isn’t as much of a concern, only for us to be forgotten later when everyone is going to the grocery store. Frankly, I was worried about Irmo traffic on an Easter weekend, but the police were still out there, directing traffic for the few of us doing the long ride.