Bee Buzzin’ Bike Tour, 2013, Greenwood, SC

The only picture I dared take in the big pace line.

I had been told that Greenwood’s Bee Buzzin’ Bike Tour is a fast and well-organized ride. A friend had ridden it in about 2:30 without unclipping once. Keeping up that sort of pace would be a tall order for me this year, but I was going to give it my all. I brought a good amount of food, some high test liquids, and an attitude to ride.

The pack started out with a blistering pace. When I had the guts to take my eye off the rider in front of me and look down at my Garmin, I was surprised to see rolling speeds between 27-30 mph. We were flying!

The pack was a good size for this type of ride, maybe 50 riders or so. Knowing my fitness level this year, I knew it would be a challenge to simply stay with the group. I did my best to sit in, but eventually as the pack rotated, I found myself a few riders from the front. What in the world? After a few moments of hesitation (which probably aggravated those around me — sorry!), I pulled through and backed off to the left. There were only a couple other times that I sniffed the front, and I did the same. The rotation was smooth enough that we were able to rotate the group without anyone getting too exhausted up front.

I was still hanging on and feeling good at mile 25. When I looked back, to my surprise, there was nobody behind me. The pack had thinned to just a couple dozen riders. That would make things tougher.

A friend had talked about taking a rest stop. We made a turn, blew by the rest top, and paused momentarily when figuring out whether people had stopped. That was enough time to put a gap between us and the peleton, and we weren’t going to catch those guys. As they rolled away, I noticed that I had a 24 mph average at that point. Not too shabby!

Unfortunately we did catch the big group, and not the way we wanted to. Just a mile up the road, we saw a bunch of riders huddled together and knew it was bad news. A rider from Spartanburg went down. From what I understand she’s going to be okay. Looked to be a little scraped up. A lot of people stayed with her. We hung around awhile, then decided to roll out when we heard that the ambulance was coming. No sense too many people crowding the scene.

Now I knew I was in good company. It was a bunch of Columbia riders that I know and trust, and Brian who I’ve become acquainted with this year. To my surprise, I was feeling fresh and strong. Even when it came my turn to pull, I was able to power on at a decent clip without blowing myself up. That’s something I couldn’t do a month ago.

The Columbia crew back in action.

The Columbia crew back in action.

The one thing I love about fast rides like this is the teamwork. The 5-6 of us were pacing at a good clip, each taking turns at the front. Our harmony was interrupted briefly by a foursome that took control, one of which was a strong rider. The other three cracked, while the lead guy hung around. All of a sudden I noticed the pace pick up considerably. Apparently the interloper attacked, and the rest held his wheel. The pack began to splinter, and with people dropping, the rest of us got a little gapped. Julie and I paced together to catch the group, and nearly blew up in the process. I noticed on my Strava that I was anaerobic for 12 minutes, most of which had to be right there. It was a test to stay strong to the finish, but I made it.

My fitness and the injury passed another test. Things are on the upswing and beastmode might not be as far away as I thought. Not only was this ride a lot of fun, but it gave me a ton of confidence.

Thanks to the Greenwood Festival of Flowers for putting a terrific event together. If not for the wreck, we might not have unclipped. Traffic was blocked at every intersection. That’s pretty impressive.

Did I mention they had beer at the end? Ride organizers take note. Nothing tastes better than a cold beer after riding on a warm day. I’ll come back for that reason alone.

Strava Link


14 responses to “Bee Buzzin’ Bike Tour, 2013, Greenwood, SC

  • Kevin Pearl

    You’re pretty good at on the fly photography. Looks like Jack Daniel in that pic of Columbia crew?

  • exmaschine

    I’m curious as to your high-octane drinks Aaron…

    I actually started using some Monster this year. I add about 4-6oz
    (1/4 or so of a can) to my sports drink mix- for the caffeine and B vitamins. I have noticed slightly less fatigue on the rides overall, but interestingly enough, I am a bit shagged that night and the next day. (not crashing, just more soreness from the increased effort)

    I have been setting PR’s on many of my saved hill segments (though overall avg speed isn’t going up) What I can surmise, is that my power output efforts on the hills are slightly increased, because I ‘feel’ more energetic- most likely due to the caffeine boost.

    I have done this for about a dozen rides now, but not in succession.
    I usually reserve using a bit of an ‘energy’ drink for 40 mile + rides.
    It definitely helps with the fatigue issue on longer rides. No issues so far with any physio effects. I wouldn’t expect any either, since the amount I am ingesting (about 50mg) is less than a cup a coffee (90mg’s)

    At some point, when I tackle a 100 miler, I might experiment with using half a can. (8oz/80mg’s of caffeine)

    • aaronwest

      My bev of choice has been Skratch Labs, but it’s more for the fueling and hydration than the power output. I have tried caffeine based drinks and they help a lot, but I tend to peter out after awhile. I’ve found that when I plan my ride ahead with Skratch, I am fresher a lot later into the ride without drinking nearly as much. Might write a post about it at some point.

      • exmaschine

        Yes, that would be good if you could do a review. I have never heard of Skratch. I’ll have to check it out Aaron.


      • aaronwest

        They aren’t as well known as others. My local bike shops don’t carry, but I tried some when in a bigger cycling community and was hooked. Been ordering off the internet until I can talk my local shops to carry them.

  • Les Boan

    We went out fast! I held on till we hit the accident. It was hard getting back going after that. I cracked at my 52. I did not bring enough nutrition with me. I think we rode beside each other several times. Next time I will introduce myself, lol…

  • Jim Brennan

    A great wrap, and confidence is so crucial. And I’m with you on the beer.

  • Cherry

    Awesome speed and glad to hear you’re on the rise to the top of the cycling pack soon. It’s funny how you ride your tours like a race, you have the racing gene in you …..

    • aaronwest

      Believe it or not, I’m not really competitive with others. I don’t try to show other people up on group rides or anything, but I am very competitive with myself and tend to let fly on these organized rides.

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