Perfect weather yesterday. This is the first year I've had riding legs and figured out my nutrition for a ride this long so I set a few goals for myself. First to stay with the front group over Neal's gap. I was just off the back of the 1st chase group. Looked like the front group was about 30 people and the chase group had about 12 people. I caught back on, on the decent. Helped pull somebody else back on as well, who says he owes me a beer when we caught back on the group (though I didn't see him after the ride..hummmm). It was great having help pull through the valley over to Jack's gap. Again I was just off the back over the top. Chased again but was about 150 short of the group before the start of Unicoi. (Decent too short.) By the time I got to Hogpen my legs were blown. My avg speed to this point was 19.1 mph. Lungs were great but legs said I'm done. I kept looking down thinking there's no way I'm in my 27, it's too hard to turn the pedals over. Slowest climb EVER up Hogpen. I stopped at the first stop (which I said I would never do) to get some water and let the blood drain out of my legs + stretch. Had some cramping but pounded some water and it went away. Got to the top and stopped again to hit the bathroom, grab a little food and some more water. On the decent my chain came off and wrapped around my crank arm and was rubbing on my rear rim. Had a small heart attach, stopped and spent a lot more time than I wanted fixing the chain but thankfully still with a working bike and no other issues. Both hands now black with grease would get all over the Aaron's white kit, my bar tape and everything else I touched for the rest of the day. Hooked up with a small group to help pull back over to wolfpen gap. Started eating more and felt good from the top of wolf to the end. My goal was to finish in under 6 hours. I had a 6:08 ride time but 6:19 overall time with the 2 stops and chain issue. A great ride day for me especially since I'm not a climber. I should have eaten more (1/2 cliff bar, 2 crackers and 5 gels. 2 orange slices and some grapes) but never felt like I was going to bonk. No sickness and I could eat after the ride - WOOHOO. Thats a feat in-and-of itself. Stats - 11,332 feet of climbing, 162 avg hr, 16.92 avg mph, 47.3 max speed (not taking the risks these days). A great end to the season.
Results are posted HERE - 96th place of 1000 timed finishers... sweet. I'm guessing close to 1800 people rode or attempted the full ride. Timing chips were optional.
On a very sad note, one of my teammates Mick was hit by a car yesterday while riding his bike and is in critical condition. Thank you to everyone that helped and his family in their time of need. Our thoughts are with him.