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 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.