Friday, March 19, 2010

Hell Week Day 7 - Southern Comfort 1.75

Distance: 100 miles (Garmin accidentally turned off for a bit)
Time: 5:42:51
Elevation Gain: 5,817 ft

A fierce 18+ mph wind was blowing out of the South Southeast when we rolled out from the Sunset Inn this morning so we decided to stick to the route going out, then modify it in Waring / Welfare and give ourselves a nice tailwind coming back to the barn. As a result we logged a little over 70 miles (I accidentally turned off the Garmin at one point) and when I returned to the B&B I felt good enough to head due North into some hills for extra miles. The return trip was tough, but the views were well worth the extra effort.

With only one day left to go in Hell Week and the weather becoming ever more questionable (T-Storms & 24+ mph winds) we decided to make the most of our last day and the four of us that are still here (Chuck, Jeff, Tom & me) stuck together for the duration. Chuck, as always, slaughtered us on every climb. Jeff was riding great today as well and I really enjoyed his company throughout the day. Tom, of course, was our tour guide and did the lion's share of the work.

We rolled south for quite a ways and battled the headwind for many miles. The climbs were already going to be tough, then add in a hard headwind and they get that much more difficult. Still, we stuck together and had a great time. I heard another mix of great stories today (again, as usual) about Hell Week's past and this helped pass the time nicely. Coming up to the Old Tunnel area I managed to drop my bottle in the middle of a climb. I retrieved it thanks to another kind cyclist, and Chuck waited for me until I got it back and we continued.

After the Old Tunnel / Bat Cave and heading toward Waring we picked up a massive group of cyclists. Our number swelled from 4 to 25 in about a mile. Still fighting the headwind we plodded down the road and none of them (despite catching us as a group) offered to come around and pull. Jeff had a great idea and told me to just start soft pedaling and drop the pace. We did so and got as slow as 12 mph before people finally started coming around. The whole group passed us, Jeff and I giggling the entire time, before we accelerated and got on the back. The others decided they wanted to let a gap open but I had other plans.

Since I wanted them all to learn how to work I got on the back and waited a few minutes, then slipped outside and went up toward the front. Coming into a short drop at a water crossing I dove out and attacked. I sprinted off in hopes they'd take the bait... and they did. With a 100 meter gap I slowed and allowed the pack to close on me and simply retake my draft. I then attacked again and opened another large gap then sat up and pedaled at a decent pace and allowed them to catch me... this continued for another three or four attacks before I finally pulled wide and allowed them to come around. I don't know that it made any real point to them, but for me it was just a great example of how people ride like lemmings. Rather than set their own pace or ride within themselves, they simply race after whoever is up the road and then sit on that person's wheel until they absolutely have to come around.

In Waring we filled up at the fantastic convenience store / dance hall and then headed out of town toward Comfort. In Comfort we modified the route and headed due North back toward Fredericksburg and took full advantage of the now incredible tailwind. We rolled back into town and I headed toward the B&B that Betty and I rented for the week. Upon arriving I checked the computer and saw only 68 miles on the ticker. I knew we had worked hard, but I really wanted more miles.

After refilling water and eating a few more Fig Newtons I headed North on Adams to Lower Crabapple and followed that due North toward Route 965. I rode up about 12 miles before turning around (80 miles now on the Garmin) and heading South back toward town and into a very strong wind. The views were incredible going out coming back in so it was well worth the effort. Add to that some excellent climbs coming back in and it made for a great little extension to the day's route.

Hell Week Day 8 -->

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