According to repeat offenders, the turn out was a little low this year. My guess is somewhere around 100 cyclists doing either 25,50,75 or 100 mile routes. Not sure why the turn out was low but the weather combined with a change in the time of year might have played a part. Several cyclists also joined Dwight in recommending that the event get better promotion next year. From the outside it seemed that both the Cary Cycling Celebration and the Jimmy V Ride were counting on the other one to promote. In the end there was not enough information "out there" to drum up the support from local cyclists. Cary is a huge cycling community, there should have been several hundred people there. (In my humble opinion.)
Now for the ride...
Not having a riding buddy, Dwight started out toward the front of the group trying to find the right pace makers. After a few miles, he took his first drink from his water bottle and lost it while putting it back in the cage. :( Hopefully this was not a sign of things to come. Luckily it was a 2 year old bottle that probably needed to go anyway, just didn't need it to happen on a 75 mile ride.
The front group stayed together for quite some time and Dwight enjoyed the scent of the perfume coming from a cyclist a few rows ahead. It was a lot better that the usual smells during the Thorns and Roses rides so he kept his spot in the pack to enjoy the change of pace.
The course was well marked for the first 10 miles but then the peloton got to a T and there were no markings plus they had to turn onto a gravel road. Five cyclists went right and about 10 left. Finally someone who sounded like they knew what they were talking about shouted go left, so everyone went. The gravel slowed the pace considerably as cyclists tried to maintain a good line and stay out of the really loose stuff. Plus most still were not sure that they were on the right road!
Finally, the Peloton was back on pavement and the Jimmy V markers were pointing the way.
The first rest stop came at about 17 miles and Dwight hadn't planned on stopping, but with only one water bottle he figured he'd top off. Once off the bike, the chill set in and a biology break was in order. This delay worked out perfect however because as Dwight got back on the bike a group of 5 cyclist were taking off and all were going the 75 mile route. Dwight finally had his riding buddies!
Of course names were not exchanged, men in general aren't that great at it and Dwight is especially bad, but the group gelled with the new rider and set a nice pace.
Somewhere around the 40 mile mark, 2 of the 6 cyclists started dropping back and after slowing for a while the other 4 decided to continue ahead, with Dwight in tow. After about 5 miles Dwight's chain popped off the outer ring making it impossible to get it back on while still riding. (whoever the guy was from the Trek - Raleigh booth at the start of the ride you owe me one). While he yelled out "Chain" the group didn't hear, and kept going. While Dwight was fixing the chain the 2 that had dropped off earlier passed him. Now he was way behind and in no-mans land.
So he had 3 options:
- Ride at his own pace and hope to get caught up in another pack
- Speed up a little and ride with the 2 that got dropped earlier
- Really speed up and get back with the 3 that left him.
Within a few minutes Dwight can see the two that got dropped so he now has his first goal. Because of their lower speed, Dwight is able to easily catch and pass them. Now to find the first group. With no rest stop coming up anytime soon, Dwight's only hope was to keep going all out.
Luckily there was a really nice downhill with some cool twisties that both broke up the monotony of the solo ride and provided a chance for Dwight to push the speed faster than the group would likely go. It worked. After coming out of the turns and climing the hill that followed Dwight could finally see his group in the distance. Unfortunately they didn't see him so he still had to chase them for a good 20 minutes.
Now back in the group, Dwight says, "Man you guys are hard to chase down", to which they reply, "we didn't know what happened to you. We thought you were going back to join the other 2." "Nope", Dwight said, "just dropped my chain off the big ring". Appologies all around with jokes about Dwight pulling up the next hill, but they thankfully slowed their pace a little.
Of course after all of this, the group hit the second to last rest stop on the day and Dwight declared lowdly that they HAD to stop at this one.
This stop allowed one of the other two that had been dropped to rejoin the group so they now had five to go the rest of the way.
The pace over the last 15 miles was a lot slower with several complaints after each hill, but the group stayed togther and decided to skip the last rest-stop (although Dwight was getting nervous about only having one water bottle).
With about 2 miles to go the pack saw a lone rider in the distance and decided to give chase, but then slowed at the very end when they realized he was on a mountain bike and had taken one of the shorter routes.
The cyclists were met with cheers, free food, drinks, massages and water bottles; good thing for Dwight because his was empty.