First thing I want to say is I don't think I will do this ride or AoMM next year, if the temps are what they were yesterday. No amount of training can prepare you for that (unless you train in it, which I didn't) and no amount of training can help you overcome severe cramping at mile 52. So friggen severe, it brought tears to my eyes and once I had stopped, I could not move an inch for almost 5 minutes. This ride assaulted me big time.
Andy's wife helped us with the shuttle down to Spartanburg so that we had cars in Marion and didn't need to return to the start at the end of the day. That was great and I really do appreciate not having to ride the bus back to Spartanburg. When we arrived at the Marriott in Spartanburg, SC it was a balmy 102F! It didn't feel too terribly bad (or so I was trying to convince myself). We get checked in and head over to the auditorium to picked up our registration packets and soon after met Neal for dinner. We hung out watching the USA/Argentina soccer game until it was time to get some rest. Unfortunately, even though I was a little sleepy, I didn't want to go to bed, so I went for a short walk outside and tried to use the computer at the Business Center. That wasn't free, so I headed back to my room, watched a little more TV, then set the alarm for 4:45. Didn't go to sleep till something like 11:30pm. I woke up before the alarm and got stuff ready...I was eager to ride.
The ride started off well, lots of riders, and it was awesome hearing everyone clip in and get started this morning. My plan was to hang with Andy until Bill's Hill, where I knew for sure he would drop me. Those plans went out the door about 10 miles (+/-) into the ride. First medium climb and he was gone. I decided at that point to just ride my ride and not try to blow up just to keep up with him or anyone else. I've learned a little. Rode with several different groups up to the first rest stop, including a tandem that pulled me and and others for a long time.
After this rest stop, I hooked up with Colavita guy and rode with him for a long time. I've got some nice pics of his calves and will up load the pics later. I didn't get any pics of Andy's legs. Shame on me. I always get pics! Anyways, the heat was starting to play a number on me. I was feeling drained and didn't seem to have any energy, tho I was eating my gel and eating at the RS. Maybe I should have eaten more bananas. I don't know. Final rest stop before Bill's Hill, I got water & ate some watermellon then headed out. Not sure what road we were on, but the pavement was nice and then I got to Bill's Hill. Turn up BH and I dump most of the water on myself or just out so I wouldn't have to carry it. cause I knew there was water at the top. Not far into this climb I got a mild cramp in my right inner thigh and had to stop. That was the start of the end though I didn't want to admit it. Back on the bike, make it to the top, refill the bottles and head on down.
I think we made some turn, maybe, and it was a really nice decent around 50mi. But, after this descent when I started climbing, I could feel the cramp coming on. I tried to ease up, I tried to will it away, but I couldn't. About a quarter of the way up hte climb, I had to stop. I got unclipped and just laid there over the bars. I couldn't move. It hurt so friggen bad. Never had a cramp like that before. The sag guy came back and asked if I needed a ride. No, I'm not riding, I'm not quiting. I asked how far to the next rest stop and he lies to me....says, oh, about 6mi or so. I knew the rest stop was at 64mi and here I am cramped up at 52mi. Right. Guess he told me a lesser distance to keep me going.
I continue on - now in limp home mode because once I start cramping, they won't stop. That was the longest 12mi. During this time, I'm trying to decide whether to abandon when I get to the RS. DNF. I cry over just thinking about DNFing 'cause I didn't train all damn winter to DNF this ride. Not due to damn cramps anyways. I felt like the only way I was going to DNF was if something on my bike broke or I crashed and couldn't ride (cause even if I crashed I was gonna get back on my bike and finish, just like the guy I saw at 3MM). But, I say to myself, you don't want to get injured (like I did last May due to dehydration/cramping=tendonitis/bursitis in my knee), so do what is best for your health. OK. I'll sag back to Marion. I had a headache, I stopped sweating as much, chills, all the reasons to quit.....But....
While at the rest stop, my friend WheresWaldo & his daughter, Bittersweet (Bikeforums friends), come up on the tandem. He had planned on going on to Mitchell, but told me he was going to abandon because of the heat and he just didn't have any legs left. I'm sooooooooooooo glad they showed up. Someone I knew and that I could finish the ride with. Only 8 more miles. I decided then to not abandon. I could finish this ride as long as I had someone riding with me and encouraging me to finish. WW is such a great guy. And his daughter was great too. Both kept telling me we're almost there, to hang on, just another mile or so. Even on one of the last climbs, when I was starting to cramp, they both told me to just keep pedaling, don't stop. Almost there.
We head out, I drop them on the hills, they catch me on the descents and pull me till we hit another hill. Wash, rinse, repeat. A long climb....WW tells me it's only maybe a mile after the upcoming stop sign. I say great cause I want this to be over. He lied! More climbing, then about 5mi of descent. We finally get to the last turn and he says here it is...I tell him you're lying to me again and Bittersweet says no - look. There's the campground!! Brings tears to my eyes again - I've never beeen so happy to see the end of a ride.
I made it just under 5hr, 4hr57min, 75mi. I sincerely believe that I could have made it in 4.5hr had I not cramped. I think I can do it in 4-4.5hr next year (to Marion) if I ride it. That won't be decided until next year when it gets much closer to the ride. I'll try to get a pass for Mitchell, but if the temps are like this year, I won't ride it. I'll find a damn ride that's up north or somewhere that the temps are 80F or less. F this heat. I hate the heat.
So, that's it in a long nutshell. My legs hurt, I'm tired, sunburned too I think. Prolly gonna take at least half a day off work tomorrow. I wish it was winter. I hate this heat. I am going to revise my thoughts on this high temp stuff. I'm with Andy - give me cool temps cause I just can't deal with the heat. You just can't take enough clothes off to be cool.