It had been over a week since I had last been on a bike. After the epic beach ride, I figured it was time to take a break. Today’s Carolina C.O.P.S. ride was my return. Unfortunately I was greeted by a cold front. Have I mentioned that I dislike riding in the cold? I have probably whined about it a few times.
Even though the start time was delayed until 9am, it was still chilly when we started out, somewhere in the low 40s. I thought once I got riding, I would warm up quickly. That might have been the case, but we faced a headwind in the early going and it nearly froze my face. The plan was to ride at recovery pace, but I felt good when I got out there, so I went probably faster than I would have liked. I stormed out with Fred, a visitor from Spartanburg. We rode at a reasonably fast pace until the cold finally had its way with me. There are certain temperatures that I simply don’t handle well and it was affecting my breathing. I was getting a headache from the brain freeze. At first I slowed down to let him get ahead. Then I stopped at around mile 10 to thaw out a little and wait for some other friends.
Fortunately the temperatures warmed up relatively quickly. We stopped at the next rest stop, around mile 25, and it was already warm enough to get rid of some gear. I felt great coming out of the rest stop, rode with John behind the tandem for awhile. The course was a little too hilly for us to fly like at Rose Hill. I rode by myself for a little while until Fred from Spartanburg caught back up.
The great thing about this ride was the police support. Just about every intersection was blocked with police stopping traffic. We were supposed to have a police escort through the Columbia city limits only, but they kept on going and rode with us for the entire course. The cruiser would stay ahead of us at a comfortable distance, slowing and speeding up for hills just like we did. I can only imagine how bored he was. If you read this officer, thanks a million. When we encountered intersections that were not blocked off, he would put his nose into traffic with his lights off and let us follow close behind him. This was unquestionably the safest ride in which I have ever participated.
The route took us North and West of Columbia. There were hills. Lots of them. The course rolled almost the entire time. The route went along Highway 215, almost to Jenkinsville, which I already knew rolled steadily upward. Many of the other roads were familiar from rides out of Blythewood. We were pretty much up and down all day. The inclines were not terribly steep, but after awhile they can be punishing.
Fred and I rode the rest of the way together. We considered stopping about 10 miles out, but we were in a rhythm and so close to the end that we continued. We ended up being the first to finish, which is not a major feat for a small ride, but is still a nice feeling. The volunteers made a bigger deal out of it than it was, which was also nice.
Good ride. Thanks to Jen for putting everything together and to the local police force for keeping us safe, on and off the bike.