As luck would have it, New Years Eve fell on a Saturday and had ideal riding weather. I drove up to Spartanburg early in the morning to participate in their annual Terry’s Tap Room Ride. The local bar is no longer there, but the riding tradition continues. It includes two loops, one 60 miles and the other 40, starting at different times of the day. People have the option to do either of the two, or both to get a full century ride. I chose the latter. A pizza lunch courtesy of the Spartanburg Freewheelers was served in between rides.
Turnout was amazing. I am guessing there were just shy 100 riders in the morning. We all left together from Converse Plaza in a two-column cavalcade, occupying the right lane of a two-lane highway. We would ride together for the first 15 miles or so, then would separate into A and B rides. The pace was a little faster in the early going because we had all groups together. I got distracted in the early going, riding leisurely while talking to some people, and found my group dropped from the main pack. Not knowing that the split-point was coming ahead, I tried to catch up. An SUV was carefully passing riders, bobbing in and out of the right lane to pass cyclists. I stayed behind and drafted at a comfortable speed behind the car. When it passed, I sprinted back to the pack, catching them right before we reached the first stop. Oh well, at least I got some good exercise.
The A group was tempting, but not knowing the roads and not having ridden a lot over the winter, I played it safe and stuck with the B group. Most of the others in the group had also been off the bike, so we took it easy. The pace was advertised as 17-18. It was slightly faster in actuality, maybe in the 19 range. The course had a few rolling hills, but nothing terribly difficult. It looped out to Buffalo, SC, back through Pacolet, and then circled back to Spartanburg. It was comfortable, pleasant riding. I got to visit with with some people I hadn’t seen since the Beach Ride and other friends from the Upstate.
At some point we made a wrong turn. Our course was marked with arrows and a T. There was apparently a marking from another ride without a T that we followed anyway. That resulted in a few more miles added to the early route. We still managed to arrive to the break with time to spare. Of course the A Group had been there awhile. We scarfed down some pizza, refilled our bottles and then promptly got back on the road.
The riders converged for the second loop and we had some A riders, many of whom who have been participating in the Upstate Winter Bike League. Despite their presence, this was a slower pace than the early route. It was also no-drop, so we had to wait for a some laggards on a couple occasions. My lack of recent miles took a toll and I started to get tired, especially at the end where we hit some tougher climbs, including 10-12% grade grunt hill.
The ride had been just about 105 miles with 4,500 feet of climbing. Not bad for the last day of the year! My legs felt great, which I think is due to my strength training in the offseason. My arms and neck were a little sore, but they will get stronger as I spend more time on the bike.