I have competed in several challenge rides. As you know no 2 are the same even the same event changes year to year based on the weather. This year the wind was strong out of the North at 15 MPH with gust up to 20. If you look at the course it goes in circles, lots of time in the wind and cross winds. Bonus was it was cool and cloudy. Last year not as much wind but sunny and warmer. I will take the heat over wind any day.
As for the ride, the depth of the field was rivaled only by the Blood Sweat and Gears ride we did in Boone NC. Difference here was the wind kept the group in check where in Boone the first hill 10 miles in decimated the group. Several times I was riding along and could not see the front of the group there were so many people 200+. I made my fair share of mistakes and burned too many candles gaping back up the the group 2 or 3 times. At mile 70 we hit a section next to a highway heading NE into the killer crosswind. The pace was 29-32 for at least 2-3 miles. Guy's were getting spit off the back in groups. I battled with everything I had, a small gap quickly turned into one of those gaps you know you better close or its over. I got as close as 10-12 ft. to the back and just could not close the final few feet. I could see sitting dead ass last was Marty. If I could have yelled maybe he could have saved me. It was not to be. I was maxed at a 178 HR and had nothing left. At this point I would have bet anything there was no way Marty had a chance. The field was too loaded and the locals were hell bent on not letting anyone but a local win. They slowly rode away and my will to fight that hard rode off with them. A few miles later a small chase group caught me and I grabbed on only to start cramping so I went into survival mode and kept my pace at 20-23 on the flats and just did easy tempo up hills. Young Billy was a victim of the crosswind spit out and came up on me a mile or 2 before the final big climb. I was happy to see my friend. We rode together until the end.
I joked with Billy that Sada might take a short cut and to watch to bushes for him to jump out in front of us. The previous year was the one time he beat me and he has rubbed in in ever since. Well this year he was well behind us, I don't like to talk smack but he had it coming. After he finished, I yelled at him from across the lot "SADA where is my Money? 2 to 1 pay up".(he had offered 2 to one odds that he would finish ahead of Me) No one had bet him. He did not think it was very funny and yelled back "You don't have enough money to bet me!!"
The biggest surprise was when I found Marty. I asked him how far ahead was the lead group when he finished. He replied I finished first. I about fell over. I can't imagine how damn hard it must have been. There were just so many strong riders. We had rode the last 20 miles the day before and discussed where he attacked the previous year and the plan this year. Not only did he do the same
damn thing, the locals knew it was coming and could not do a damn thing about it. He rode away from them on the last 2 hills. Jon Morgan was with the Chase Group about 1 min. behind Marty. They both had amazing rides.
After the event on the flight home Morgan asked me what would I have done different? Training etc... I really don't think there is much I could have changed. A few breaks here or there could have kept me out of the wind and not chasing as much but I think my finish is in line with my level of fitness. My goal was to finish safe and have fun. At the end of the day I had a blast and can't wait for the next great ride. Anyone who wants a real fun challenge should mark this on their calendar for next year.