We started off and there is a picture of all of the Free Flight cyclist, I'm the tall one (tall one may also be interpreted to those unfamiliar with sarcasm as "the shortest of the group") on the left side of the picture without a helmet on.
What to say…
|The very rag tag team.
We started off, I was just behind Greg Lemond for a few seconds before hammering up the first hill, Mt. Carmel. People were going back and forth, but I ended up with the second fastest time. Then we rode up 3rd street, then North Grandview, before heading onto Heritage Trail. I knew this seven mile timed section was my weakness, so I aimed to draft as much as possible. We got off to a slower start, little attacks here and there, with most just trying not to go too hard. Finally at the little road crossing at mile five I made my attack, but Evan did too, and his was strong enough he got away and I couldn't catch him. I ended up getting tired for 6-8th place on that section, slower than many of the group we rode with.
|Covering Evan's Early Break (He's a lot better than me)
Shortly after the Heritage Trail timed section we started to hit serious gravel. I don't really like riding on gravel. After going down one hill a guy from Chicago who was behind me said, "you looked like a jet ski weaving back and forth." Fortunately, I never had a flat tire and I never went in the ditch and I never fell off. Three pretty big accomplishments for like six sections and close to 20 miles of gravel roads.
|That's me, out there grinding it out, alone.
The stop at the Field of Dreams was nice. I always like visiting that place. The movie is good and it's cool to see the set, plus there are almost always kids out there playing, and let's face it, it's cool to see kids running around. It's too bad you don't see grown ups running around more often… When's the last time we played tag?
Then some more gravel roads and riding alone...
Going into Potter Hill, seriously 200 meters from the start of the timed section the inside of my right thigh cramped up! I rarely if ever get cramps. However after 57 miles of bicycle riding including a few hills, lots of gravel, and some really hard peddling, I think my body said, "time for a time-out". So I stood around and stretched for a few minutes before deciding I was ready to hammer for five minutes up the hill. Another man who stretched for a bit started just before me and this is me passing him in the last section where sitting down was possible.
|Enroute to having the best time on Potter Hill
I'm now #2 on the Strava .7 mile Potter Hill climb, behind Wes, a professional triathlete. Only the two of us have cracked 11 mph on that hill.
I wasn't supposed to win my age group. Evan on the left of the picture is by far a better cyclist than I am, but I think he worked too hard in the 30 miles between timed sections two and three and I got him on the hill. I came in second overall so I didn't win the bicycle, but I won an eight pound sausage. Funny story, I made the joke, "hey we're all the same height" because we were standing on a podium, but even then those two guys were taller than me. They both have to be over six feet. (Shameless plug for Live Healthy Iowa!)
|That sausage made my arms shake it was so heavy! (I'm not joking.)
|Meeting Greg LeMond
One of the reasons attendance was sparse is the sheer cost of bicycle racing. In addition to the multi-thousand dollar bicycles many of us ride, I paid $100 for a few timed sections. That's a lot more expensive than the standard running road race. In the new global economy, fewer and fewer Americans can afford the expensive hobbies like bicycle racing. I am rich and it makes me sick, so I try to win bicycle races because I have that opportunity. I think with less gravel, maybe a lower cost to do the not timed for competition (perhaps $25 instead of $75 for that option) it would be more highly attended.
Would I do it again? Probably, but that's like asking if I will run any given race or attempt any given mountain again. I don't know where I will be in a year's time or what other priorities I might have then. I had fun. It wore me out. I like the idea of a social ride where we all go after the same race segments. It was a good day.