|Date||October 11, 2003|
|Who (else)||Barbara and Tracy Cate, Don and Connie Engelke, Claire Hamanaka and Walt Willard, Brenda and Larry Isherwood, Barbara and Mel Kornbluh Susan Nicolich and Dave Snope, Theresa Seidler and Joe Rutch|
Optimism reigned as we all scoured the weather forecasts for the driest one. The winner was the one with a chance of rain in the late afternoon. There were plenty of different reports. Even the hotel had one forecast for heavy rain at the front desk, and another different one for a chance of showers in the elevator.
The evening before the ride, some of us met at Zia's Italian restaurant for a pre-ride carbo load and story trading. The next day the university dining hall provided a multi-station smorgasbord for breakfast and dinner. As we left the dining hall after breakfast, a misty drizzle was blowing in the air. After attaching the numbers to our bikes and suiting up in what we hoped would be appropriate attire, we set off to the start point. The light rain had stopped. We snapped a few 'before' pictures and gathered the clan at the front of the Maggs Gym. The ride started by going through an underground pedestrian tunnel that reminded me of the rush you get on a roller coaster when entering the dark tunnel at the bottom of a steep descent. It was well lit, but the traffic jam of bikes made for a constant stream of bikes into the tunnel. Larry and Brenda had warned us that some people would stop at the other end of the tunnel to talk and create a potential bottle neck. It seemed as though when Claire and I were ready and were all clipped in is when everyone else made their move. By the time we got through the tunnel, the other teams were no where in sight. After a few minutes of carefully working our way up through the traffic. We sighted Dave and Susan, and gradually got the group together.
We found out later that Tracy and Barbara had opted for a short cut that would take them over 65 DRY miles. They were the smart ones!
The squirrellyness of riding in such a large group was evidenced by the one guy, who, at the turnoff for the first rest stop, stopped his bike right in the middle of the turn off lane. Chaos ensued. We got around safely, parked the bikes, stocked up on energy, and took off again. Once we got into our rhythm, it was easy to get carried away with the pace. It was easy to cruise at 22 mph, and our enthusiasm let it reach 25 and 26 at times. This was curbed by the realization that we had 4 more 20 milers to go. We had to temper our paceline technique to allow the leader who was falling off a place to go, since the singles were swarming like locusts behind us for the coveted tandem wheel. More than once a single came up beside us to say 'Tandems Rule!' before being sucked back into our wake.
The rain was holding off nicely, until we got closer to the 60 mile rest stop at Assateague Park. The rain was heavy and sideways as we all donned our rain jackets, even though we were already soaked. After that soggy stop, we headed inland again. The rain kept up until the 80 mile stop, where it blissfully relented. Another refueling and we were off again, without the rain, but the misting was enough that the bikes kicked up a good rooster tail.
The number of bikes at the side of the road with flats was increasing..... and we counted ourselves lucky not to have to stop in the long grass in the rain to fix a flat. Nobody said anything, lest we jinx ourselves. Spin on...
We were charting new territory past our previous longest ride of 60 some odd miles. Our legs didn't hurt any more than before, we just noticed it less. The familiar numbness from centuries done 10 years ago on my single returned, but the miles were still ticking by. We had decided collectively not to suffer keeping the early ride pace in the wetness, but still maintained an 18-20 mph speed. As the last 10 miles became 5 miles, we were the horses headed for the (dry) barn, and the pace crept back up to 20mph. The college was a welcome sight. We passed one last crash as a rider fell over just before the tunnel. We cruised through the tunnel and onto the red carpet at the finish, winding our way through the campus to the t-shirt pickup area. We were done! Our first century on the tandem in 5 hours 35 minutes averaging 19.0 mph thanks to a TEAM EFFORT!
Where do we sign up for next year??!!!... Who else wants to join?!??!!!