Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big Dam Bridge Century Ride

The weather could not have been better for the Big Dam Bridge Century Ride.  This post will be more of a short review of the event rather than a detailed report of my riding the Big Dam Bridge Century.

We arrived in North Little Rock in the early afternoon.  I had noticed that my seat bag was extremely worn and actually just hanging on by a tread.  It was time to check in for the event and look around the expo.  Although the expo was small there were two shops swapping their wares.  I was able to find a seat bag, some lobster-claw winter gloves and a Leopold Trek jersey.  The prices were fair.  I got everything that I needed.

Check in for the event was quick and easy.  We were not able to pick up a packet for a rider that was unable to make the event.  Photo ID’s were checked.

The following morning we rode to the event start.  It was just a short ride across the bridge and took just a few moments.  There was a chill in the air but arm warmers and jackets were not necessary although I saw many riders who thought otherwise.


Big Dam Bridge

Charles, Terry and I went out together. Unbelievably, Charles was pushing the pace from the beginning. I guess the cool weather filled him with bravado. Terry and I just held back knowing that it was a long day. We knew that Charles would be successful but wondered how much suffering would take place in the later stages of the ride.

Charles settled down around the 20-mile mark. We were being passed by small pelotons. I decided to jump on the tail of one. However, this group soon slowed. I decided to go around and ride at a tempo pace.

I was bridging gaps constantly. The ride had broken up into hundreds of small groups of riders. I would pass one group and then try to catch the next. Starting at a moderate pace for the ride meant that most of the fast riders were miles ahead. I was not being passed by anyone.

Then, during a particularly long stretch, a solo rider passed me. He had a team jersey on and was riding just a hair faster then I. I jumped on his wheel and we chased down the next pack. We started to fade and I took the lead. When we got to the pack, I slowed to catch my breath. I was thinking that riding a hard tempo at mile 30 of a century was probably the smartest strategy. The ride told me nice pull and that he had flatted early on. He was trying to catch his group. He told me to come along for the ride. We rode hard for another couple of rides and caught his group. He was obviously the strongest of the group. I decided to continue on my own.

My first stop of the day was at mile 35. I used the facilities, refilled the water bottles and ate a couple of PB&J squares. The aid stations were run very well. While I was in line for the bathroom, a volunteer came up to hold my bike for me while I did my business. Wow, curb service.

Charles and Terry soon arrived and we continued onward. Since the last tactics worked out well I decided to continue to ride tempo and take big rest breaks at the aid stations. For me this would be a great workout of hard efforts followed by long rests. Just about perfect.

The ride started to get hilly and I was still passing tons of people at the back and middle of the pack. The last rest stop before the ‘mountain’ was at mile 62. I stopped to wait for Charles and took a long rest. I ate some more, used the bathroom and refilled the water bottles. These are very small towns in north central Arkansas but the entire communities came out. The junior high school cheer squads were loud and proud.

After an extended recovery, we started again. I attacked the mountain. It was a little over 4 miles of climbing. I was in my lowest of low gears and pulling hard but it was not the hill was not insurmountable. When I got to the top, there was another aid station. This station was also packed with cheer squad volunteers. They quickly ran over to you and asked if they could fill your water bottles or get you something to eat. It was awesome.


Kings of the mountain!

The rest of the ride was supposed to be downhill. Not true. Although there were some steep descents, the ride was anything but downhill.

We stopped for one more aid station at around 90 miles and then I took off for the hotel. Although I was not overly fatigued, I was ready for the ride to be over.

Our hotel was half a mile before the finish. I pulled into the parking lot and abandoned the ride. I wanted the first shower. I cleaned up, poured a beverage and headed out to the finish line.

I soon met up with Charles and Terry and we made our way to a steak house for a reward.

We had a great time. I would highly recommend the Big Dam Bridge Century Ride to anyone looking for a fun day in the saddle.


Ransick said...

Sounds like a fun ride/work out. I love the small town events where everyone comes out to cheer. Makes you feel like a rockstar.