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PMC 2004: Saturday Morning, Stage 1, Sturbridge to Mass Maritime Academy

August 7, 2004

Ring, Ring

Since sleep was eluding me anyway, I was up a couple minutes before the wake up call at 4:30. Corinne answered it, and then immediately went back to sleep (or she tried, anyway). After showering and dressing, I put as much stuff back in the car as I could so that she wouldn't have to lug so much when she checked out, packed a small over-night bag with my camera and some clothes for after the ride, threw the bag over my shoulder and then rode my bike to the Host, arriving at about 5:15 AM.

Like last year, the entire parking lot was split up by ropes, dividing the riders into groups by approximate speed. The fastest riders leave first, so that they're not passing slower riders so often during the beginning of the ride: it's a lot safter that way. I put my bike in the "fast section" (supposedly for those who will average 20+ mph, though I was pretty sure I wouldn't be that fast), about halfway back from the very front of the ride. Dropped off my bag at the truck for those who are staying off campus, and then headed in for breakfast.

A big breakfast didn't seem like a good idea, so my little snack of champions consisted of three very small muffins, and a snack-sized container of Strawberry Shortcake Yogurt. There may have also been a couple pieces of Canteloupe, but now I can't remember for sure. If it was there on the table, I certainly didn't pass it up.

Jim found me when I was done eating. He was wearing the same mega-bright neon orange pullover jacket with reflective stripes that he wore last year. This jacket is awesome, he can be picked out of a crowd of riders a mile away.

Finally! Let's Ride.

After filling my water bottles, I gingerly picked my way through all the bikes laying on the ground. Somebody in front of me tripped on a bike started to fall onto the next one in line. I caught him with one foot about to come down hard on someone's rear wheel: he would have wrecked the spokes, and probably banged himself up in the process. Unfortuantely, he was embarrassed, and stormed off. I caught up with him and apologized for embarrassing him, he said his own clumsiness was the only problem, and he was glad I caught him. (Me too, actually. He thinks *almost* falling was embarrassing? Man, that would have been a lousy way to start the day!)

Bunch Start, Seth's Back Jim and Chris had their bikes about ten feet ahead of me and all the way to the left next to an ambulance. Steve and Mike Lucas were stuck behind me about fifteen feet. Doesn't sound like far, but with all those bikes crammed into this space there was just no way for us to safely start together. Steve did get a nice picture of my back, though. ;-)

After Billy quieted everybody down, the local fire chief (police chief?) sang the Star Spangled Banner, and then we counted down the last few seconds to 6:00. Then, finally, we were off!

It was cold, the sun had only started to peek over the horizon, so I decided to warm up carefully for the first few miles (kept my speed under twenty mph). I passed Chris without ever seeing him, unfortunately, but Jim made a nice target in that blazing orange jacket, and I eventually caught up with him after two or three miles. Jim and I rode together for a little while, and then when we reached the top of a hill he said we could go a little faster if I wanted to.

Heh. Nice thing to tell me at the top of a hill, especially now that I was all warmed up: I was off like a shot. I guess that's not what he meant, though, as I didn't see him again until the water stop at 40 miles. (I skipped the first water stop at 20 miles.)

A couple of funny things happened in the first forty miles that I should mention, though I don't recall their exact order.

First, the other "clydesdale" from last year found me near the top of a hill. It was good to see him again, I'd been looking for him. Unfortunately, he made some comment about not letting me get away because I was too good to ride behind. Remember, I did say this was at the top of a hill... again, I was gone, and he's another one I didn't see until the 40 mile waterstop.

The second "funny" thing is that I almost asphyxiated myself! I tried to eat a granola energy bar while working with a paceline, and suddenly found that I couldn't breathe well enough to keep pedalling! I don't know if my bites were too big, or if the granola was swelling up in my mouth, but it was bad enough that I almost passed out. What a fool.

44-Mile Water Stop, Steve's Parents

Steve and his parents I arrived at the 40-mile water stop at almost exactly 8:00 AM. My average speed was a little over 20 mph. A few minutes later Mike Lucas showed up, and Steve Davis, and Jim Boyko. I hadn't seen them on the way in, but was very happy to find that Steve's parents were there waiting for him/us, too!

Steve and his mom When I was very young, my family attended the Boston ecclesia, where Steve and his parents are from. Steve's dad, Bob, was the Sunday School Superintendent with a huge, deep, booming voice that always impressed me, and his wife always had a smile on her face. Neither of those things has changed! (Also, Steve's mom is now a three-time cancer survivor, and Steve rides in her honor.)

My max speed on my cyclocomp Somebody asked me what my fastest speed was for the day, so far, and I said probably about 48 mph. I'd noticed a couple of fast descents, but hadn't checked my speedometer's max speed setting. A few minutes later I realized that Steve and Jim hadn't actually seen the new bike yet, so I walked it over to where they were talking to Steve's parents, and checked my max speed. 54 Miles Per Hour! I couldn't believe it, that's my fastest ever. Steve was impressed (or amused) enough to take this slightly-fuzzy photo of the computer showing my max.

We spent a lot of time at this water stop. How could we not, with his parents there? Having friends and/or family come out to see you on a day like this takes a great day to another level.

Lunch at 60 Miles

Jim's girls wait for him Jim greets his girls Jim, Steve, Mike Lucas and I finally set off again after about thirty minutes with Steve's parents. Just another sixteen miles into the ride we stopped for lunch, and this time Jim's wife Katie and their two daughters were there. Steve got some great photos of "the girls" waiting for Jim, and Jim saying hi.

While we had been way ahead of the main crowd at the previous water stop, our extended stay had put us more into the pack, and the lunch stop was very busy shortly after we arrived. We also found (or were found by) Chris Rawsen's dad in the food tent, waiting for Chris to show up. Unfortunately, he got tired of waiting and left just minutes before Chris pulled into the parking lot, which was just as we were leaving.

Lunch consisted of sandwiches and fruit. Except for Steve, who I think ate nothing but potato chips. ;-) Man must have been seriously craving some salt, because he ate quite a few snack-size bags of Cape Cod chips with Nantucket Seasoning.

Katie Boyko and Chris Rawsen We stayed at the lunch stop for about forty-five minutes. That's a lot longer than I would have chosen, but I repeat: with family there, none of us wanted to leave any sooner. Finally, I refilled Steve's and my bottles with various "colors" of Gatorade, Steve got a nice shot of Katie standing with Chris Rawsen, and we were off again.

Onward to Bourne and the Mass Maritime Academy

Steve and I actually thought Jim was behind us somewhere, but he must have left the lunch stop ahead of us because we caught him after about twenty minutes. We got into a couple pacelines here and there, but Steve and I usually wanted to go faster so we'd ride right off the front of them. (I'm not going to say much about my riding, other than the fact that I felt pretty strong all day long.)

Jeff, Seth, Ethel, Sharon Jeff, Sharon, Ethel, Steve Shortly after "breaking away" from one of the pacelines, Steve warned me that we were approaching the home of Jeff and Ethel Wallace. We decided to pull into their "cute little place" to say hi, and were lucky to find them (and their close friend Sharon Ellis) outside packing their van, about to leave for a weekend in Vermont. They were definitely surprised to see us, and didn't even recognize me at first. (That's ok, I don't recognize me dressed like this, either!)

We stopped briefly at the last two water stops (84 miles and 100 miles), and then finished out the ride. Steve and I were still feeling strong and were riding pretty fast, trading pulls. He was pulling for the last few minutes before the entrance to the MMA, but surprised me a little by waving me through a half mile before we arrived. A quick high-five as we turned the last corner, and Saturday's ride was done as we had our bracelets scanned to check in. Jim arrived just a few minutes later.

It'll be a long time before I enjoy a ride as much as this one. It's definitely been the most enjoyable day in saddle for as long as I've been riding.

Stats: 112.91 miles (181.7 km) in 5h 36' 12" for an average speed of 20.15 mph (32.44 kph).

Page last updated: 8/12/2004




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