Here is a guest report from Berry Mobley, my riding partner on the Tour d’Apple a couple weeks ago. You might also enjoy a report from the front of the pack by James Tobias at his new blog, Packfodder.
Tour de Paws is a Spartanburg area ride that the Freewheelers have been hosting since 2002, partnering with the Spartanburg Humane Society. It’s a great ride, one that I rode first in 2005 – although that was the 27-mile route on a mountain bike with slick tires. It’s a great warm-up for the MS Breakaway to the Beach ride which is generally (and also this year) about two weeks later.
This year, I rode the metric, and had a great time. The route has changed this year, so there is about 800 feet less elevation gain on the metric, and the roads have less traffic as well.
The ride starts at Tyger River Presbyterian church in Moore, and they are always a good host. This year there were more than 300 riders for the three routes, 28, 48, and 62 miles. It was good to see a few Columbia people at the start.
I headed out about mid-pack, not really sure how I was going to feel after being Aaron’s anchor last week in Hendersonville. There were lots of abilities, though, and I soon hooked up with a good group. We rolled along pretty well, but the group kept getting smaller at each turn. We got to the first rest stop at mile 15, and it seemed like the whole group pulled in. I was feeling great, though, so I kept going. After the turn, a couple of riders caught up with me and we worked together for a while. One of them was Jim, who I ended up riding with for most of the rest of the day.
The next rest stop was at mile 25, but our small group (about 6 riders) kept going. The ‘back half’ of the metric was an out-and back with a loop, so somewhere before mile 27 we saw the front pack coming at us – fast. There were a couple of chase groups, too. I was in the back of our group of four by then (people who ride with me will not be surprised by that statement) and the first three rode past a left turn, distracted by the oncoming riders. I was yelling “LEFT TURN!” pretty loudly, though, so they didn’t go too far out of the way. I mentioned to Jim afterward that the markings were way better than last week’s ride at Tour d’Apple, and Jim said he’d read about it on SteepClimbs. (Hi, Jim!)
We managed to stay on the course the rest of that loop and got started back, riding with a couple of Finish Strong riders that I talked to about the Ride for Animal Care that we did earlier this year. We got back to the rest stop at mile 39 and I made my only stop of the day. Jim didn’t stop as long as I did, and went on, so I rode with Kim and Becky from the northwest corner of the state. We caught Jim in a fairly big pack after a few miles, and I rode in with him until the last couple of hills. That’s the only ‘complaint’ I have about this ride – it ends uphill! At the end, though, they have drinks, and hot dogs, and chips, and massage therapists, and puppies! I didn’t take any puppies home, though.
I got home and uploaded my Garmin data, and it turns out I was 85 minutes faster than last year. I expect that has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve already ridden 700 miles more this year than I rode all of last year — and I’m at least 20 lbs lighter than last year’s ride.
All in all, this is a great ride, very well supported, extremely well marked, and it benefits a great cause. I’ll be back next year!