Moments after I posted my September calendar, my throat started to feel scratchy. Uh oh. A number of my co-workers had come down with a particularly nasty virus, and I was worried it was my turn. It was. Thursday was pretty rough, but I went to work anyway. I was in bed most of Friday. I was tempted to skip Tour de Paws, but late Friday I started feeling better, so I decided to give it a shot.
Tour de Paws is a metric century put on by the Spartanburg Humane Society. It has a reputation as being a fast, well-organized ride, and I always enjoy riding out in Spartanburg. Not to mention, pet rescues are always causes that I can get behind.
Initially I had hoped to hang with the lead pack. My expectations were tempered by my illness, but after feeling alright warming up, I decided to give it a go. I made sure to take some cold medicine, added some cough drops to my fueling supply, and lined up not far behind the fast group.
The ride began with us charging down the big hill on Reidville Road. I felt fine in the lead pack’s draft. The heart rate was in the tempo range. If I could stay with them, I would be fine.
After the first few miles, the pack splintered a bit. There were some gaps that formed, and I had to sprint to catch the pack again. At around the five mile mark, the pack was separated even further by some riders who had left early, and were riding two abreast. The group had to move far to the left to get around them, some crossing over the yellow line. By the time we were back in the paceline, the lead pack was 200 feet ahead of us. I charged and was gaining on the pack for a time, yet the distance remained. I would need cooperation to catch them, but none was coming. After a short while I was starting to feel the effects of my sickness. I could not sustain the big efforts that I normally could. The pack was gone.
I found another two riders to work with for a time, but they dropped behind a little bit. I thought I would be riding solo for a time when I was caught by Jim, Liz, and Craig of the Freewheelers. They were all part of last year’s beach ride, and I was glad to ride with some company.
At around the 25th mile, I was not feeling well at all. There was one point after climbing a hill that I even considered calling it a day. I reminded myself that I have never taken a SAG wagon, and now was not the day to start. I shamelessly sat in with the group, taking the role of wheel-sucker, trying to work as little as possible while still remaining at a decent pace.
Our small group grew as others caught us. We worked together as a group of around 15. It was a smooth tempo, not too fast, not too slow, just comfortable. This was ideal given how I was feeling.
I have to give a shout to the motorcycle teams. They were awesome the entire day. They would ride along with us, either behind or ahead. They would get to intersections, and either let us know if the coast was clear, or stop traffic for us. One of the bikers was Richard, who was also on the Beach ride and has ridden in the Tour Divide. It was nice to have support that is so familiar with these types of rides.
The ride ended with us climbing back up Reidville Road. By now it was the mid-80s and humid, and the climb was nearly a mile-long. I felt pretty weak as the climb began at at a steeper grade, but was able to finish strong when it leveled out.
Even though I wasn’t at my best, I was glad to have participated. Next time hopefully I’ll be feeling better and can stretch my legs with the hammerheads.