Monday, August 24, 2015

Anthem Moonlight Ride 2015 Recap

Saturday morning, after making a seat-adjustment to my new (to me) Blue Axino, I set out for a 36 mile round-trip with RABA. The bike felt amazing, and I felt like I still had plenty of energy for the evening's 15-mile Full Moon event.

The Blue Axino, in her natural habitat: surrounded by other fast machines

So like an idiot I parked 5 miles away and biked in and arrived as the starting corral was forming.

I had registered in Wave B, or "Weekend Warriors", but had been warned that I would be weaving in and out of a lot of traffic in that group, so I made my way to the front and awaited the start of the race ride.

The view when I got there. It got a little more crowded up front before the ride finally started.

Out of the gate, traffic was thick and slow. I found this a bit surprising since the only bikes in front of me were in Wave A: "hard core". After a half-mile or so of just riding, I decided to do the only thing I know how to do: ride as fast as I can.

By mile marker 3, I had passed the overwhelming majority of Wave A. Then came the turn-around, and a guy nearly wiped out on some loose gravel in the middle of the turn (thanks Obama...).

At 4.5 miles, I was down to a handful of riders out front, and one guy was trying to make a run on me into Bryan Park. One thing this bike does exceptionally well, though, is climb, so I put down the pace for the next mile and set a MapMyRide record 1:22 for the next half mile of climbing, finally passing the last two riders as we came out of the park.  For the next 6.5 miles, all I saw were headlights behind me.

My dad got a shot of me at mile 10. Thanks, dad!

I got my own police escort for several miles, and kept thinking I was going to burn out and get blown away by a big break-away pack, but they just stayed about 2 blocks back the whole time.

Until mile 13, when the next rider back turned off his headlight and made a run on me. I was burning out, had no idea how much farther I had to go (a gap that has since been filled with the ordering of a Garmin Edge 520), and had backed off from my 21.2mph pace to a 19.5mph mile. I looked down into my mirror, and instead of headlights, I saw a grinning face.

He passed me on the hill, but tucked back in for the draft for the next half mile, taking advantage of my confusion when a course-worker nearly sent me down the wrong road to re-claim the position.

I hauled him back down as we over-took riders on the half-moon (8-mile) ride, then ran into more confusion as the course was not clearly laid out into the finish corral. As I was defending the inside line into the final turn, he darted out left as the 8-miler in front of us locked up. We both nailed the brakes, missed the guy by a foot or so, and then realized we'd left our steeds in top gear (53/11 on mine). At 5mph we both forced a slog to the finish line, with me getting the final power stroke that put me 1/4 of a bike-length ahead.

I was absolutely blown away that, having never competed on a bicycle, I'd just won my first event.

Then I learned that there was a small group that was evidently a couple of MILES ahead of me just about the whole time. I never even saw them, but there were about 10 of them, and they were apparently flying.

So I didn't win, but I did ride the whole course distance in under 41 minutes, ended up putting just over 60 miles on the bike for the day, and most importantly: I didn't wreck.

Now I have to get back to training for the Heart of Virginia metric century and the Martin's Tour of Richmond piccolo fondo.

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