Tag Archives: breakaway to the beach

Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach, 2011, Florence, SC – Day Two

I thoroughly enjoyed the team paceline for the first leg of this double century. Day two, on the other hand, was going to be completely different. Most of my teammates either went home on Saturday or participated in the shorter 50-mile ride. This left me as a free agent and the first real test of my cycling legs on flat terrain. I had already competed two double centuries this year, but both times had been exhausted at the end.

MS 150 start out of Florence

I felt great for the Sunday ride, perhaps better than I have ever felt on the bike. Oddly enough, I had a slight head cold, which I had been battling for a week. On the bike, for some reason, the stuffiness was gone. My body felt strong as ever.

Since the MS Ride is supported so well, I knew I could take the chance of going out strong early. If I went too hard, I could slow down in the second half without consequence. With rest stops approximately every 10 miles, I would hardly be lacking for supplies. So I decided to go for it.

When we lined up in the morning, I wanted to keep my eye on the lead pack. Unfortunately I forgot that they release riders in waves of 100 people at a time. I was around mid-way through the second wave, so I knew that I would have to push early to get with the better group. I moved ahead and managed to jump on the back of the Blood, Sweat and Gears team out of Denver, NC (no relation to the century ride out of Boone, NC). They were at the perfect pace, around 21-22 mph, and together we passed all the second wave riders and caught most of the first wave. I discovered later that they were the second fastest group at the time.

Blood, Sweat and Gears paceline

I drafted with the BSG team for around 30 miles until we all stopped at a rest stop. They took their time, apparently waiting on their slower riders. I could appreciate that, but was plenty rested and had the flexibility to look elsewhere. I hooked up with two others who had also picked up on the BSG group. Rather than wait around, we decided to go on our own just to keep moving, thinking the BSG group would eventually catch us. That didn’t happen. We eventually picked up other stragglers who skipped that rest stop, and we ended up with a paceline of around eight riders. That was perfect, and we were able to keep the 21-22 mph pace.

When we arrived at the lunch spot, the front group was heading out. Not wanting to stop long, I quickly consumed my sandwich and looked for others, but everyone was content at the dining table. There were now again three of us who wanted to go ahead. One of the guys could not keep our pace and dropped shortly after lunch. The other guy was Jon, a triathlete out of Salisbury, NC.

Jon from Salisbury

Jon and I got to know each other well for the next 30 miles or so. Just like before, we went at a good pace and figured we would eventually be caught. By now we were facing constant headwind, which was brutal at times. Our pace had slowed to 19-20 mph as we took turned pulling a couple miles at a time. This was extremely hard work and it was taking its toll. We were both getting tired. Jon really needed to rest and somewhere around mile 75 he decided to take the next rest stop. I was tired, but could continue. As luck would have it, another group turned up right about that time. I jumped on with them and Jon took the rest stop.

This was a larger group of around 5 riders. They had fresher legs than I did at the time, so sitting in with them was a nice chance for me to recover. They took the next rest stop and by that time I was ready. We took a little longer than we should have, and as we are heading out, Jon from Salisbury showed up and rejoined the group. We kept around the same pace going in — about 19-20 into the wind, which was most of the time, and when we turned south we could keep a 22-23 pace.

Destination: The Beach!

By mile 90, the two days were taking a toll. My quads were starting to burn and I was very uncomfortable in the seat. I kept on, inspired by the sun coming out and the smell of the beach in the air. It was a refreshing sight to see hints of the beach ahead, and an exhilarating feeling to cross the finish line to overwhelming applause and be handed a medal.

Mission Accomplished!

I ended up with just above a 20 mph average for the day, which was one of my fastest centuries and without question the easiest double century. After I settled down, I still felt surprisingly strong, not as sore as usual after a tough ride. It feels great to see these kinds of results from all the hard work I’ve put in this year.

GPS Link

Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach, 2011, Camden, SC – Day One


Peter Wilborn’s article has been circulating around the cycling blogosphere about the ‘Lost Art of the Group Ride.’ It is a good read, highly recommended and he makes some great points. I am certainly guilty of some of the behavior that Peter describes. Somedays I have one speed — as fast as my legs will take me. Sometimes it takes a lot of work for me to try and ride at everyone else’s pace.

Which brings me to the MS Ride, the first day of a double century for a great cause. I rode with team Perez Pedalers and it really was a team effort the whole way. Peter Wilborn would be proud. Eight riders took turns at the front, shifting every 2-3 minutes or so if circumstances allowed. The focus was on riding together through the good times and bad. That meant that if someone had a mechanical issue, we would wait. If someone could not keep a pace, we would slow down.

We were a well-oiled machine today and this ended up being my easiest century ride ever.

We started bright and early in Camden, SC. We just missed a storm when the ride began, but it would find us later. After maintaining a steady pace for the first dozen miles and getting over a flat tire, we started feeling some raindrops. They started coming down harder at our first rest stop, about 30 miles in. Once back on the road, it really started coming down. We tried to ride through it and succeeded for awhile, until it was finally enough.


The rainfall became torrential and we pulled to the side of the road to wait it out. We borrowed the front porch of an empty building and sat there maybe ten minutes before it lightened up. It was still raining, but was no longer dangerous. We rode as well as we could, getting drenched in the process.

It was just a small storm system and we thought we would pass it soon. At that time of the century route, we made a little loop while the shorter route went straight through. This meant that we kept on turning into the storm even though we could see clear skies in the other direction. It was frustrating to think we would escape, only to be turned right back into the mess. In total, we ended up riding in it for around two hours. Fortunately once we were out, we were out. It would be sunny skies the rest of the way.

At 66 miles we had lunch and almost everyone felt great. The paceline was working just as we had hoped. There was one person who was starting to wear, and was worried that she was slowing us down. She even suggested going with another, slower group. Not a chance. We wouldn’t even entertain the idea. We started together and would finish together. As it turned out, this person found her rhythm in the second half and finished strong.


The group continued to glide together, but a few people were wearing down a bit. As we got closer to Florence, SC, a couple hills were in our way and that mixed up the cadence. A few people had never been on a ride this long and they were getting tired. I felt great so decided to take one for the team. I decided to take a long pull, which ended up being around seven miles. One of the riders said he was getting tired at 18 mph, so I tried to stay below. To my surprise, people were saying that was too slow. I kicked it up to 20 mph and stayed there for most of the pull.


We finished strong, and more importantly, we finished together. We shared BBQ, beer and laughter afterward.

GPS Link

Tomorrow will be another 100 for me without the pack. Depending how I feel, I might go for speed. Since the course is flat, I should be able to manage 20 mph the entire way. We will see.

MS Ride: Breakaway to the Beach Preview

Now that Bridge to Bridge is behind me, so goes the climbing. From here on out the big mountain rides are mostly finished. The riding challenges will certainly continue, but from now on they will be flat and lengthy.

That brings me to the MS Ride: Breakaway to the Beach. On Saturday I will ride 100 miles from Camden to Florence, SC. After a lot of grub, a little beer, and hopefully a good night’s sleep, I will then travel another 100 miles from Florence to Sunset Beach, NC, not too far from Myrtle Beach, SC. From there I will pack up my bike and take a bus back to Columbia, and drag my tired behind into work Monday morning.

It sounds exhausting even thinking about, but it really should be rather easy. I’m thinking of it as more of an adventure than a challenge. Don’t get me wrong – I am going to burn a ton of calories. But this is not going to be a ride where I push myself.

The focus on Saturday is going to be about the group ride, something I haven’t talked about enough on this blog. We have a paceline group of approximately 8 riders, all of whom have similar ability and are riding the century. Our goal is an 18 mph pace for the entire ride, which should not be a problem. There will be a handful of hills coming out of Camden and the rest of the way will be flat. We will probably end up closer to a 19 mph pace, maybe even higher, without pushing ourselves too much.

We have arranged to rotate riders around so that everyone is doing equal amount of work, and can subsequently conserve energy. The person on the front doing the ‘pulling’ will remain there a minute or two before rotating to the back. Everyone knows their roles and will communicate about cars, road hazards, or anything else that needs to be known.

The focus here is on the group working as a unit. We ride as a team, which means we will stay together no matter what. If someone has mechanical problems, we will all stop. If someone cannot keep up the pace, we will all slow down. And so on. The idea is to get there quickly in a safe and efficient manner.

In a way, this will be a training ride for my upcoming ride with the Spartanburg Freewheelers from Spartanburg to Charleston in one day. That will be an unfathomable 250 miles. Yes, in one day. Crazy, I know. A big focus on that ride will be working together as a group. Since I have been pushing myself with training for the past few months, it is something I have not focused on enough.

The double century miles will also help. This will be my third double of the year. The first was organized by some friends out of Santee in February. It was a 200k Saturday and a century on Sunday. Needless to say, it was tough given the early time of year and my inexperience as a cyclist. I have come a long way since. The other one was the Lake Hartwell Challenge of the Centuries. I had the proper training for that ride, but had some mishaps. I got lost on the first day and then had mechanical and heat issues on the second day. I finished without issue, but was more exhausted than I should have been.

The best thing is that my diet is over. Woohoo! Without the climbing, I don’t have to lighten the load to get myself up the mountains. I’m at a fine weight and a couple extra pounds wouldn’t kill me. So I am going to eat what I want within reason. And I won’t skimp with the carbs on ride weekend. Already this week I have eaten a lot of ice cream and cheese and crackers. Not at the same time. That would be disgusting.