The weather picture finally became clear late Friday night. Fortunately the rain would hold off until late Saturday, and then would rain practically until Monday morning. That put a damper in the rest of our weekend plans, but we were glad to be able to salvage the longer Saturday ride.
This would be our long 200k ride and would be much slower than the day prior. We paced ourselves between 15-16 mph, which is very slow for the flat territory, but smart given the lengthy distance.
Our first stop was Bowman, SC, home of the infamous UFO Welcome Center. It’s hard to believe such an oddity is a real thing. It seems to be a bit dilapidated these days. From what I can find on the internet, it used to be in a lot better condition and even hosted tours. Here is an older picture.
From Bowman we headed south towards Charleston, skirted St. George and almost reached Summerville before turning back towards Santee, passing through Ridgeville, Holly Hill and then Elloree along the way. While we had a great time on this ride, this one was more of a grind. With the potential for rain, we tried to minimize stops and keep on the road. Even though the weather was overcast, it was dry and not too windy, good conditions for a long ride.
While we had a great time on this ride, this one was more of a grind. With the potential for rain, we tried to minimize stops and keep on the road. As I mentioned a couple days ago, a good friend told me that “flat miles are not the same as mountain miles.” While that was true, this was a great exercise at keeping my butt in the saddle for a long time. This was my longest ride in awhile and a good test of my endurance. I’ll spend a similar amount time in the saddle on my difficult mountain rides. Along with cardio and power, I will need to bring some endurance skills to the table, which can only be obtained through long rides like this one.
As we approached the end of the ride, I decided to give myself another test. I had just gone 123 miles and felt good. The ride leader said that the last section was good for sprinting. Why not? This would be a great test to see what my legs can do after putting on a lot of miles. I gradually pushed ahead of the pack, pushing the pace to around 20 mph. A friend followed and we rode comfortably together. He attacked on a hill, as he is prone to do. Just getting comfortable in a quicker pace, I was caught a little off guard. I stood up and tried to hang with him, even joking that I couldn’t handle that sort of power. Then we reached the top of the hill and I heard his breathing. To my surprise I felt fine. I kept pushing, a little faster now. I left my friend behind (sorry Vince), turned into Santee State Park and sprinted the last two miles. My pace was around 23-24 mph, much faster than I expected to be able to go. I screeched back into the parking lot. It felt great to have something left in the tank after a long ride. I’ve come a long way.
Even though the weekend ended in a rain-out, I managed 226 miles in two days. No complaints about that.