Tag Archives: metric century

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


Tour de Midlands, 2013, Lexington, SC

Lake Murray Dam

After all the harsh weather we’ve been dealing with, it was not comforting to see rain on the forecast for another Saturday. There was a lot of chatter in the days leading up to the event, but fortunately when we woke up that morning, there was hardly a rain cloud in the sky. It would be a day of ideal cycling weather.

This was the Tour de Midlands, one of my favorite rides in the area. I have fond memories of being a destroyer last year with a 21.5 average on the century route (ahem, with a lot of help). My expectations were far below that this year, just wanting to finish the 70-mile route respectably as my last tune-up before Mitchell.

There were plenty of familiar faces for the metric route. Jack Daniel and Kevin Lundy are good friends and strong cyclists. I decided I would try and hang with them as long as possible, but if things were getting tough, I wouldn’t hesitate to back off and either ride solo or with a slower group. I’m not in the same shape as last year, and don’t want to burn myself out.

As the three of us rolled out, we collected a large group of riders. As we crossed the Lake Murray Dam, we must have had somewhere around 20-25 riders, all pedaling together in a single paceline. That group thinned somewhat as we traversed through the hills along the eastern edge of Lake Murray. I was almost a casualty during that section, at some times hanging on for dear life.

On this day, I found that when I got to the front, I wanted to do my share and pull the group, forgetting that I’m still riding into shape. As we navigated some tough hills, I found myself at the front more often than expected. One problem is I tend to not slow the pace. That’s more me just being considerate to the rest of the group. I know it’s frustrating to get someone up front that slows everyone down.

I pulled us up a particularly challenging hill. As I saw my heart rate creep up, my legs felt like they were turning to putty. I nearly cracked on one hill. When I backed off to the rear, I felt much better. Then we were stopped at a light, and somehow when we resumed, I found myself near the front yet again. Ugh! Again, I nearly cracked on the pull, and had to back off. After a few other short pulls, I realized that I was doing myself no favors here, and went into wheelsucker mode.

I was on wheelsuck duty in our tight group.

I was on wheelsuck duty in our strong group.

When we wheeled through the town of Chapin, the group was around 7-people, and it stayed that way for the majority of the day. It was a fantastic group! Kevin, Jack, Doug and Mike did most of the work up front. There was one instance where I was up front again, but the pace slowed considerably. The rider behind me politely nudged me to the left, giving me a break, and getting the group back at their accustomed brisk pace.

At mile 58, I was nearly done. After a couple minutes of quick refueling at a rest stop, the guys were ready to go. Knowing that I was in danger of bonking, and was already riding harder than I intended, I let them go. As much as I enjoy the company and the quicker pace, it was in my best interest to ride the rest of the way solo.

The last several miles are through some hilly sections of Lexington. As I navigated the up and down rolling hills of Windmill Road, I knew there was no way I would have been able to stick with the group. By bowing out early, I saved myself the embarrassment of being dropped.

By the time I rolled in solo, it was a gorgeous, sunny, 80-degrees. I was exhausted as I sat down to some BBQ, but still felt a sense of accomplishment after having passed another test. I’m ready to tackle the big one next week.

Strava GPS


LMC Colon Cancer Challenge, 2012, Irmo, SC

Most of the forecasts on Friday showed a high chance of rain, ranging from around 70-90%. Things did not look good for my second attempt at Lexington Medical Center’s Colon Cancer Challenge. I reached out to an organizer, asking if there would be a contingency plan if storms were to occur. There wasn’t one, but she assured me that they would monitor the course and bring people off the road in the event of dangerous riding conditions. That was good enough for me. I joked that I would pray, cross my fingers and even do a rain dance, hoping for clear skies in the morning.

One of those things worked. When morning came, that chance of rain diminished to around 10-20%. This ride was happening! On the way, I encountered a strong storm pocket, which actually reassured me. The storm was moving on. Fortunately the weather would turn out to be oddly similar to last year’s event, maybe just a little warmer.

Despite the threat of bad weather, turnout was great. I estimated between 75-100 people lined up for the 65-mile route. They had a nice pre-ride ceremony with a testimonial from a cancer survivor (get those colonoscopies, people!) and a nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by a young vocalist.

Then we rode. I have come a long way in the last year and wanted to take a step forward this time. Last year I hung with the lead pack until the hills of Wash Lever Road. This time I planned to stay with them longer. Originally I wanted to ride without stopping, fueling myself along the way, but the potential for rain changed that.

I felt good early, hanging with the big pack with my heart rate steady. The pack would gradually get smaller. When we hit Wash Lever Road, we kicked it into another gear. I was still feeling good and able to hang on. When the hill came, I braced myself and buckled in. The heart rate crept upward and I let out a few gasps, but clung to the pack without a struggle.

We descended into the little town of Peak and around the hairpin curve. This was exhilarating cycling at this pace. I was a little worried about the curve because of wet roads and the handful of raindrops we felt on the way up. It turned out to be no problem. We glided through the curve and soon began the climb up to Little Mountain, maintaining a blistering pace.

It was around the 25th mile where I started to feel fatigued, which was probably more to do with my lack of fueling. I had downed one bottle of Gatorade and that was it. My body needed more. A friend was also beginning to tire, so we decided to drop at the Little Mountain rest stop. We had gone 30 miles at close to a 23 mph pace, leaving the group of about a dozen by that point. It felt good knowing that I could have continued if I could eat along the way.

At the rest stop we were greeted by a full moon. Dr. Ben Dover had his colonoscopy patient ready for the procedure. The kids were in costume and having fun with the theme while promoting a good cause. As I remembered from last year, the volunteers were more than supportive. This was again a very well organized ride.

A few others who had been dropped near the same time grouped together. Fortunately this was a group of people that I knew well. It is always nice to ride with friends. We took turns riding into the wind and maintained a constistent pace around the Dreher Island loop until we were back at Little Mountain and ready to take Wash Lever Road back home.

Coming out of Mike Stuck Rd (more on that in a future post), we saw a group of riders. At first we thought this was the lead pack adding some extra, difficult mileage. As we got closer, we noticed no bib numbers. This was a random group of fast riders who just happened upon our route. “Sit in,” Scott suggested. No worries there. We rode their wheels most of the way down the road. As we reached a big hill, a few of us sprinted. I still had some gas in the tank and caught up with the fast group, most of whom were also sprinting. That felt pretty good.

We arrived back to sunshine, a catered lunch and camaraderie. So much for the rainy day. I ended up averaging right at 21 mph, which is the fastest metric century I have done.

Strava Link