This was a great ride. It started off relatively cool (upper 60s) and in the beautiful country of Western North Carolina. I got some pretty good photos of the hills and countryside as I was riding. It reminded me strongly of riding with the NRVBA; the terrain and scenery were stunning.
Maximum speed: 40.9 mph
Average speed: 14.4 mph
Distance: 101.88 mi
Time: 7.02.50 (with 2 hours stopping time, bringing the total time to just under 9 hours)
The ride was well-supported and well-planned. The route took us... all over the place. We were along the French Broad River for a little ways (which was nice and cool and shady), we went through a little downtown area of some small town, so the ride was broken up visually, too.
The ride was also hot. A rough breakdown:
Mile 0: the ride starts (8:00a)
Mile 14.5: the first SAG), my legs show up
Mile 75ish: I start feeling not great. There was a 24 mile gap between the 4th and 5th SAGs, which was brutal. Most of that stretch was long and unshaded, so it got really hot.
Mile 81.5: The 5th SAG. I felt lousy, and the Gatorade I'd been drinking all day was gumming me up. I switched to ice water at this point, which was the right call. I also forced down a bunch of food. A was there with our unofficial SAG vehicle with the 80-mile pop, which went down easy and without which I am pretty sure I would have struggled even more.
Mile 82: I start to feel very sick: I developed a killer headache and stomachache, making drinking more water imperative and more difficult.
Mile 91: Last SAG: refill with more water and roll out, feeling ickier and ickier. 90% of the way there! (this mental countdown started at mile 10, btw)
Mile 98: I officially bonk.
Got to the finish, and K, A, M, and I rode across the line four abreast. I rode with them for the bulk of the ride, and they were amazing. A, M, and N pulled me for most of the time between SAGs 4 and 5, and A kept the mood light with his banter. They were amazing, and I am so grateful for my entire team for their support and encouragement yesterday: it was supposed to be the other way around!
At the finish, waiting for the rest of the team, I felt worse and worse, but kept trying to force down water. Finally got back to the hotel, took a shower, felt temporarily better, and then went downhill really quickly. I got really sick. All I can figure is it was dehydration, despite the massive quantities of water and Gatorade I had been drinking the whole day. I had to bail on the team dinner, but it's good that I was able to go to bed and rest. I got a few hours' sleep, but then woke up at 10p and couldn't get back to sleep for several more hours. I did, mercifully, feel quite a bit better. Thanks especially to K and S for taking care of me and bringing me a ginger ale. I think that made all the difference. I don't know how I got so sick, because I did everything I was supposed to. My body was just completely off the whole day. (My elbow hurt the entire ride. Really, elbow? was that necessary?)
The best part about the ride, next to my AMAZING TEAMmates? The bike didn't act up even once. I gave it a stern look at the beginning of the ride, and it got the message. Thank you SO much to G for taking time out of his day off to tune it. I am so grateful!
Personal saga aside, there were 4 chapters from TNT at the event, for a total of about 130 teammates, and we raised over $300,000 for LLS. There were some 900 riders total, and it was an amazing journey. I'd like to try it again, in the hopes of not going so slowly and not getting so sick.
The Tahoe team had a much more eventful ride, with bikes damaged during shipment, several wrecks, hail, rain, snow(?) and chilly temps the whole time. I guess we Fletcher folk chose the good ride this year, after all (though I would really like to do Tahoe in the future).