Tag Archives: Santee

Santee in the Saddle, day two

The weather picture finally became clear late Friday night. Fortunately the rain would hold off until late Saturday, and then would rain practically until Monday morning. That put a damper in the rest of our weekend plans, but we were glad to be able to salvage the longer Saturday ride.

This would be our long 200k ride and would be much slower than the day prior. We paced ourselves between 15-16 mph, which is very slow for the flat territory, but smart given the lengthy distance.

Our first stop was Bowman, SC, home of the infamous UFO Welcome Center. It’s hard to believe such an oddity is a real thing. It seems to be a bit dilapidated these days. From what I can find on the internet, it used to be in a lot better condition and even hosted tours. Here is an older picture.

From Bowman we headed south towards Charleston, skirted St. George and almost reached Summerville before turning back towards Santee, passing through Ridgeville, Holly Hill and then Elloree along the way. While we had a great time on this ride, this one was more of a grind. With the potential for rain, we tried to minimize stops and keep on the road. Even though the weather was overcast, it was dry and not too windy, good conditions for a long ride.

While we had a great time on this ride, this one was more of a grind. With the potential for rain, we tried to minimize stops and keep on the road. As I mentioned a couple days ago, a good friend told me that “flat miles are not the same as mountain miles.” While that was true, this was a great exercise at keeping my butt in the saddle for a long time. This was my longest ride in awhile and a good test of my endurance. I’ll spend a similar amount time in the saddle on my difficult mountain rides. Along with cardio and power, I will need to bring some endurance skills to the table, which can only be obtained through long rides like this one.

As we approached the end of the ride, I decided to give myself another test. I had just gone 123 miles and felt good. The ride leader said that the last section was good for sprinting. Why not? This would be a great test to see what my legs can do after putting on a lot of miles. I gradually pushed ahead of the pack, pushing the pace to around 20 mph. A friend followed and we rode comfortably together. He attacked on a hill, as he is prone to do. Just getting comfortable in a quicker pace, I was caught a little off guard. I stood up and tried to hang with him, even joking that I couldn’t handle that sort of power. Then we reached the top of the hill and I heard his breathing. To my surprise I felt fine. I kept pushing, a little faster now. I left my friend behind (sorry Vince), turned into Santee State Park and sprinted the last two miles. My pace was around 23-24 mph, much faster than I expected to be able to go. I screeched back into the parking lot. It felt great to have something left in the tank after a long ride. I’ve come a long way.

Even though the weekend ended in a rain-out, I managed 226 miles in two days. No complaints about that.

Strava Link

Santee in the Saddle, day one

Today would be the first of many miles. It would also be the only day where we knew the weather would be pleasant, which it was — 60s all day. The weekend forecast was foreboding. We planned on four days of riding, but there was a good chance that at least one of those days would be rained out.

It was slightly frosty when we left Santee State Park and warming up quickly. It seemed that with every minute, the sun would shine a little brighter and it would get a little warmer. It wasn’t long on the road before we were ditching layers and basking in the sun.

The route was rural, as they all are down here in the Lowcountry. We took country roads and country highways through vast fields (mostly depleted cotton), abandoned houses, a few farms, chewed up roads and lots of dogs.

Beagle with a lot of character

Early in the route we had a pleasurable dog encounter, a rarity for a cyclist. We were minding our business riding down the road when a Beagle starts running with us. She was not aggressive, just wanted to play. She was tiny and a little hobbled in her hind leg, but was able to run quite a bit. She stuck with us for about two miles. Sometimes she would get so excited that she would jump into the road in front of us, and promptly crossed back to the other side. She was constantly crisscrossing the road with only a moment’s notice, keeping us on our toes as we rode along. We enjoyed her company until finally she went home.

We planned on 56 miles, almost to Orangeburg and back. Vince and I kept getting ahead of the others and would turn back to meet back up with them. In the process we ended up with extra miles. By the time we got to lunch, everyone had 26 miles while we had 36. We decided that with uncertain weather on the horizon and us keeping a good pace, today would be a great day to make our own century.

When we arrived back at Santee State Park, we had 66 miles. We would need only 17 miles out and back to finish up. We followed the same route and kept a good, consistent pace despite some moderate headwinds. We ended our century in the mid-afternoon.

Strava Link

Back at Santee State Park

I Can Ride for Miles and Miles


Tomorrow begins the big base miles extended weekend. We are heading to Santee, SC, a little town off I-95 that is more of a rest area stop than anything else. They have a nice state park, where we’ll be staying in cabins and using as our launching point. The area is flat as a pancake, so the idea is to get as many miles as possible.

If all goes well, the plan is to get 50-60 miles on Friday, 130 miles on Saturday (200k), 100 miles on Sunday, and another 50 miles on Monday. In total, we could get as many as 350 miles.

Unfortunately, it looks like the weather may not cooperate. The forecast for Saturday, as of now, looks dire. It will be cloudy until the early afternoon and then it will start pouring rain. There’s a 70% chance, so I don’t think we’ll be avoiding it. Our 200k is probably going to shorten to as many miles as we can ride in three to four hours. The forecast for Sunday looks better, although not quite perfect. There is a 30% chance of rain and I’m not sure about the time of day. Hopefully it will allow for us to get our 100 miles. Friday and Monday are going to be sunny and gorgeous. If the forecast doesn’t change, I have a feeling we’ll end up with 250 miles or so. That’s plenty for a few days and I certainly won’t complain.

Someone recently told me that “flat miles aren’t the same as mountain miles.” I mostly agree, but since I have been spending more time in the gym and less time on the bike, I think this will help with my endurance. It’ll get my legs spinning again and mold these developing muscles into pedaling machines. It’ll also be a good time. I’m spending it with some good friends; we’ll stop at some off-the-beaten-path restaurants, and most importantly, spend a few days away from the big city.