This is such an event, everyone should go ride it at least once. Wichita Falls really goes all out for it. There were apparently over 14,000 riders this year. I got there Friday afternoon and walked a few laps around the bike consumer show, after picking up my t-shirt and registration stuff. It’s always fun to wander through that much cycling stuff in one place.
The rec center outdid themselves again this year. This year, they added a pizza dinner Friday evening, and a breakfast with all kinds of choices for Saturday morning. The gym was cold, as usual, and I remember tossing the covers over my head a few times during the night, but I slept pretty well.
I took the usual 6:00 am route to the ride start, cutting across Wichita Street, which takes you to Scott Street in front of the start. There were no recumbents and tandems on the Wichita River bridge this year; everyone was lined up at the start line just before the bridge. As I approached the start from the front, it reminded me too much of a can of sardines, everyone was so packed in, so I turned around and made my start from Wichita Street.
This is a flat route and has great traffic control, so I always use it to try for my best century time of the year. I made it past the thickest bike traffic at the beginning ok, and settled in to see how fast I could finish the ride. I have been slower this year, and today was no different. The past two years, I made it past mile 90 before my average speed dropped below 20 mph. That happened today before mile 70.
But my real problems came at mile 74. I hadn’t made a stop yet, even though my arse had been hurting for more than a few miles by then. I think the filter foam seat cushion is completely worn out on the Roadster, and that may have a lot to do with what happened. At mile 74, I had the strangest muscle spasm I’ve ever had, such a serious cramp in my right arse cheek that I stopped. As soon as I stopped, a knot the size of a pear showed up, just beside my tail bone.
I layed on my side in the ditch with the ants and goatheads for 15 minutes, before a SAG vehicle showed up, policed me up, and hauled me back to the rest stop at mile 68. There, I was tortured by a massage therapist for 20 minutes or so, but the knot just wouldn’t go away completely. There was just no way I could sit on the bike, so I asked to be SAG’ed in, and was told a SAG truck was on its way, so I waited.
And waited and waited. Every 15 minutes or so, I would sit on the bike again to confirm there was no way I could ride it. Finally, at 12:45, after an hour and 15 minutes of waiting for the SAG truck, I sat on the bike and said, “Maybe”. So, off I went.
It’s a very different view of the ride that I got, riding during hours when I’m usually finished. I figured I’d better keep a moderate pace to better fend off further cramps, but even with a moderate pace, I was pretty much passing everything on the road. 6 hours after the start, it seems there aren’t too many racer types left on the course. Riding with the strong riders that I do, I feel pretty slow, but passing all these bikes today was a reminder that slow and fast are relative things.
And it’s a different style of riding at this time of the ride. Many riders just ride side by side, and are pretty much oblivious to anyone coming up behind them. You need to use the oncoming lane for most of the passing you do. And at every rest stop that I rode past, at least one rider pulled out directly in front of me.
By mile 98, I was starting to cramp pretty seriously again. When you cramp at mile 98, there’s only one thing to do. I stopped and had a free beer. Unfortunately, as soon as I stopped, the knot showed up again, and the beer wasn’t nearly enough to numb the pain as I took off again. But within a short distance, the cramp was better, and I was pretty sure I could finish.
When I crossed the finish line, I didn’t stop, for fear of a knot again. I just made a u-turn, and rode slowly back to the rec center. I ended up with 107.8 miles (rode from mile 68 to mile 74 twice), and a total time of 7:50. That likely qualifies this as the slowest century I’ve ever done.
The last few miles, there were more than the usual number of comments about how comfortable my bike looked, and offers to trade bikes. But they didn’t bring the smile to my face that they usually do, because on this day, my arse was likely hurting just as much as their’s was.
14,000 riders at the start.