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PMC 2005: Day Two, Bourne to the Provincetown Inn

Sunday, August 7, 2005

OK, now you can have the repeat of Friday morning that you've been waiting for. ;-)

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt....

Must not hit snooze. Must not hit snooze. Must not hit...

ahhhhhhh. Snooze!

No! Get Up!

Really, the voice in my head, telling me to get up, could barely be heard over the cacophany of other voices, all of my muscles just begging that little voice to JUST SHUT UP AND LET THEM SLEEP. Hans and Frans even mumbled tired threats of "crushing whoever was trying to wake them up, like a little bug."

No such luck, though. It's the last day, and I knew it, and I knew the muscles could handle another day. They were just, well... a body a rest, and wanted to stay that way.

I got up at 3:30 am, repacked my bag with what I'd need that afternoon, took my shower, awoke Corinne who only groaned before dragging herself upright. We were out the door at 4:00.

Obviously, traffic is not a problem that early in the morning. In the twenty miles back to the MMA, we probably saw less than ten cars. As we pulled into the drop-off parking lot in front, we'd already seen a couple dozen riders. Yes, they start leaving before 4:30. That's just sick.

Corinne headed back, she could hear the bed calling her name in that gentle-yet-persistent voice that all beds have at 4:30 in the morning.

Last year I got there at 4:45 am. The year before, at 5:00. Hitting the road early is good, as it avoids the crushing mass of riders on the Bourne Bridge, and most of the congestion at the water stops.

Should Have Slept In

This year I should have just slept in a bit longer.

Dave Schlageter came up from Georgia to do this ride, but of all his friends and family at this ride, Jim Boyko and Chris Rawsen were the only ones who had actually ridden with him! Mark, Andy, Steve and I all decided (with a little coaxing from Steve) that we'd ride with Dave today. If he was having a good day, we'd be able ride fast. If he was having a so-so day, we could still make a fast pace and let him draft the whole time. If he was having a bad day, we'd slow down. Remember, it's not a race.

Unfortunately, the ride started all wrong. Dave was hungry (no, really!), and kept us waiting by our bikes until 5:20 while he ate more and more breakfast. When he finally showed up, instead of apologizing -- or just getting on his bike and riding -- he decided to tell us all about his breakfast! tick tick tick tick...

Finally, at 5:25, I made the hand gesture for "yak yak yak" and said, "less talk, more ride." It was meant to be nothing more than a little light-hearted chastisement -- he could talk while riding, after all -- but he didn't take it well. He rode off in what seemed like a huff (at least from the back) while the rest of us thought he was still getting ready.

The Chase

We all decided to chase him down (knowing he'd be cooled off in a few seconds anyway). We still hadn't seen him when we got to the bridge, and mere mortals can't do any chasing on the bridge: we get one lane, ride two abreast, and almost wheel-to-wheel.

Mark and Andy are not mere mortals, apparently. I can still see Mark's head bobbing as he ducks and weaves through the traffic when there's an opening, or riding in the auto-lane when there isn't on. Andy stayed right with him. Steve and I just hung back, wishing we had their, uh... wishing we were as bold as they are.

Shortly after the bridge there's a long, flat "rail trail" along the Cape Cod Canal, called Canal Service Road. This is where we usually watch the sun come up, but we were too late this morning.

I sped up to about 24 mph, and maintained it, as I tried to chase down Mark, Andy, and Dave (since it was obvious they would catch him). I thought Steve was with me. When the left lane of the rail-trail was blocked by someone who pulled out without looking, I slowed down and pulled over to let Steve take the pull... but he wasn't there! Somebody else had been drafting me that whole time, and in fact I had formed a paceline of my own.

The guy directly behind me, who I hadn't seen but rather just heard and 'sensed', pulled up next to me and said, "that was fun while it lasted!" This guy was heavy, with a big beer belly, and he was panting and sweating like crazy. I never did figure out why he was trying to hard to keep up.

Now I was a little confused. I was riding fast, but I still hadn't seen Dave, Mark or Andy, in spite of passing hundreds and hundreds of people who were taking it easy, chatting, doing all the things I thought I would be doing this morning with my friends. Steve wasn't with me like I thought he was.

Wait for Steve, or keep hunting the other guys? Well, some very fit guy named Joe, wearing a Lance Armstrong Tour for a Cure jersey, passed me. He'd been in the paceline too, and as he passed he looked over and told me to "hop on." That was good enough for me, so I slipped into his draft and we got rolling again.

The guy who had said, "that was fun while it lasted," pulled for a little, too. I told him to slow down, there was no need to hurt himself, but he just shook his head and kept going. After a half mile he completely blew up and told us to go on without him. That was a bummer, I knew he'd be paying for that all day.

"Joe" and I kept working together. Shortly after the route leaves the canal, there's a very steep hill that's the first real "wake up call" of the morning. Joe didn't wait, and I don't blame him. I was having a good weekend on the hills, but he was your typical "little guy" cyclist, and I'm not even sure he would have noticed the hill if not for everybody else around him panting and whining. :-)

After that climb, the route is very "rolling" for most of the way to Provincetown. People think Cape Cod is flat, but it's not. Lots of small hills.

I caught Joe half way up the next hill, and stayed on his wheel to the top. He looked back and said, "Seth! You caught up!" Now I was confused again... I hadn't told him my name.

Believe it or not, it didn't occur to me until the first water stop that he knew my name the same way I knew his. I'd pinned my name tag to my saddle bag. Duh!

We worked together until that first water stop, sometimes with other riders, sometimes just the two of us.

The First Water Stop

I'd worked pretty hard for the first twenty miles, and -- as I did too often this weekend -- I zoned out at the water stop and lost track of time. After drinking more than a bottle of gatorade, and eating half a pbj and a bunch of fruit, I realized that Joe was waiting for me so got back on our bikes kept moving.

Still no sign of Mark, Andy, Dave or Steve. I figured that Mark and Andy were still ahead of me, that I'd accidentlaly passed Dave or he had never been ahead in the first place, and that Steve was somewhere behind me.

Dropped

I stayed with Joe for about half of the next twenty miles. I was still feeling good and would have stayed with him all the way to the next water at mile 40, but I dropped my chain! Argh!

The chain wasn't alone... I was dropped too. It took me over a minute to fix it, because it was wedged. Hate it when that happens.

When I started riding again, a paceline caught me and I was ready to hook on... but it just kept going! There were so many!

Ten passed me. Then twenty. Mike Lucas said hi on his way by. (He'd left ahead of us, so I must have passed him on the canal without knowing it.) I was riding slowly, waiting for an opening.

Thirty passed. Forty. This is ridiculous. It's the longest paceline I'd ever seen!

Fifty. Fifty-five.

There were more, but they finally made an opening for me. Unfortunately, pacelines more than twenty riders long are almost *guranteed* to be a yo-yo. Those at the back have to work extra hard to maintain a consistent pace based on what they can see of the riders up front, or constantly speed up and slow down. Usually it's the latter, and this was no exception.

Another paceline came up on the left, with fewer than ten riders. I switched over, and stayed with them to the second water stop.

The Nickerson State Park Water Stop... of Doom!!!

The second water stop was as amazing as ever. These folks go all out, every year, decorating and organizing better than most of the other stops combined. And there was Jack, looking healthy, holding a sign that said, "I'm 8 now because of you."

Mike came in just a minute or two behind me... enough time for me to park my bike and find the ice-cold melon.

I went to refill my bottles, and... ugh! Good grief, it's worse than pool water! The volunteer refilling the gatorade coolers warned me too late that the water they were using was superchlorinated. It was bad. They were mixing the gatorade a little stronger, but nothing could cover that flavor.

I waited there at the water stop of doom, hoping that Steve, Dave, Mark and Andy would catch me. Still no sign of them... I gave up and rode on alone. There were so many riders I probably wouldn't have seen them unless they were calling my name, anyway.

All you little guys look the same, you know.

Bonk!

Please understand, I've always had a very strong aversion to the taste of chlorine. I know that nobody likes it, but I really hate it. Yes, I love swimming, even in chlorinated pools, but -- call me crazy -- I usually try to avoid drinking the pool.

Now I had two bottles filled with pure, liquid evil.

Ten miles after leaving that water stop, I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't maintain 20 mph, and I was starting to think about finding somewhere to just lay down and take a nap.

In fact, I was making the mistake that I'm known for preaching at others about: I was rationing my fluids. Not because I didn't have enough with me, but because I couldn't stand the taste of it. After two long days on the bike, I'd started the day a little dehydrated, and I didn't have enough reserves on tap to tolerate this.

It came in fits and spurts. When the thirst (and the leg cramps that accompany dehydration) got bad enough, I'd force myself to take a big drink, and just choke it down. Spin on for a little longer, start to feel better, pick up the speed, fail to keep drinking, and tank again. Rinse and repeat. And repeat.

I was the human yo-yo. Speed up, slow down. Pass riders, get passed by riders, pass them again.

Finally, a small group from Team SolidWorks (a well known, very large, fairly successful 'team' of riders) caught me and realized I was having trouble. They talked and paced me in to the third and final water stop. (Thanks, guys!)

Last Stop!

I mentioned yesterday that every water stop had huge piles of ice. This one (I think this was the Wellfleet Elementary School, but I'm not sure) was no exception, but they got creative with theirs! They piled the bags up in the shape of a large couch, and threw blankets over them! Overheated riders took turns sitting on them for a few minutes each. I didn't take a turn... I figured the best it would do for me is numb the saddle sores for a minute or two, and I really didn't want to cool my muscles down with only 20 miles remaining.

The water here was clean and evil-free. I took my time drinking a bottle of water and a bottle of gatorade, eating lots of icy melon, and a PBJ sandwich.

Mike showed up a couple minutes after I did. He looked like his knee was bothering him, as it had all weekend. I wasn't feeling talkative, though... I just wanted to keep drinking until there was nothing left.

This stop saved my bacon, really. When I left I was starting to feel better, and I had two bottles of CLEAN, icy gatorade.

The Dunes

The last twenty miles of the trip to Provincetown is known for a long section along Route 6 that is exceptionally windy. You're riding through the dunes (tall beach sand dunes on both sides of the road), the wind is blowing into your face at 15+ miles per hour if your'e standing still, the sand is stinging your skin, and the sweat's in your eyes. And your butt is sore.

For the last two years, I found this stretch pretty difficult. This year, there was no wind! It was calm, and I continued to feel better... but I was riding alone. There were a few riders about a mile ahead of me which I knew I'd catch sooner or later, but that's all I could see. (In fact, there were probably hundreds and hundreds of riders within a few miles of me, fore or aft, but not within eyesight.)

Even though I was feeling better physically, I was starting to get a little bummed out. I'd been looking forward to a day on the bike with friends, and instead I'd only seen one of them (Mike) all day and he seemed to having a tougher time than I was! Now I was on the last leg, the ride was almost over.

Then I got passed by another tall rider. He was much thinner than me. It's hard to guess based on how someone looks on a bike, but I'll say he was about 6' 6" tall, and 200 pounds. I was going about 20 when he passed me going 24.5.

I know how fast he was going because I caught up with him and thanked him for snapping me out of it and for giving me someone to pace. After a mile, though, he was still going 24.5 mph, like a machine, and he didn't slow down perceptibly on the inclines. There were only 10 miles left, but I realized that if I tried to stay with him, he was going burn me out like the guy early this morning burned out.

After telling him he was too fast and waving him off, I slowed down to 21. I definitely felt better.

Arrival (How Many Times Do I Have to Say? It's not a Race!)

I caught up with another group from Team SolidWorks (nine of them, I think), and drafted them for awhile. Three riders from some other team showed up -- I can't remember what their Jersey said, just that it was dark blue -- and the two teams chatted and joked around a little.

We passed the one-mile-to-go mark, where the route splits. Go left to the family finish, or right to the P-town Inn. We all went right.

One of the SolidWorks guys tried to get everybody to race for the finish. A few people were up for it, most didn't say anything, a couple groaned. The pace picked up, we transformed from a bunch of riders to a straight-as-an-arrow line of riders. The talking stopped. I was sitting at the very end, dead last.

With about 1/3 of a mile left to go, and the pace still picking up, it looked like the setup for a sprint finish in the TdF, but not nearly that well done. I suddenly decided to go for it.

Actually, I don't remember deciding anything. I just... dumped it. All of the strength and energy I had left. Into a sprint. Me, the poster-boy for non-racer cyclists.

As I passed the guy in front of me, he yelled out, "Car back!" Then he laughed, and yelled, "No, that's a rider! The big guy's going for it!"

(Like the experienced racer I'm not,) I glanced at my spedometer as I passed the guy in front. 32 mph. This was the guy who had tried to talk everybody into racing in the first place. He was out of his saddle and trying to catch my wheel (he'd seen me coming after the other guy yelled), but had spent too much time at the front and didn't have the energy.

I kept the sprint going as long as I could, and then slowed down when I saw the leading edge of the "cheering squad". (No need to rush this part!) I looked back to see how I'd done -- and to make sure I wasn't about to be run over by some angry racers -- and saw that I had a 50-foot gap and they were giving up at the same time. (The only credit I get here is for my timing, I think. Still, it was fun!)

It was just after 10:00 am. The cheers were awesome, the crowd was huge and the weather was beautiful, but they weren't cheering because I'd just beaten these guys in a sprint. Trust me.

They were cheering because that's what you do, for this one weekend, for all the riders who give up so much time and energy *all year long* to raise money to help people with cancer. The ride, the comeraderie, and the cheers are our reward, our little but of fun, friendship, and honor.

363 and 2

The theme of the weekend was "363 and 2." It's a little awkward, but it refers to the 363 days out of the year when we're regular people, and the 2 days that we ride, get cheered for, and waited on hand and foot all day long.

Stats

82.51 miles (132.8 km) in 4h 3' 16" for an average speed of 20.35 mph (32.76 kph).

Page last updated: 8/16/2005




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