Monday, April 19, 2010

SLC Marathon Bike Race --- er, I mean, Tour

So I volunteered this year to ride the Bike Race.... er, I mean "tour" that precedes the SLC Marathon. I was a "bike marshal" which basically means ride for free, and make sure everyone obeys the rules and offer assistance where needed. Fortunately, everyone was on their best behavior and nobody crashed or anything, and I got to have a really really really good time.

I had assumed that the bike marshals all rode toward the back of the pack to pick up stragglers, etc., but when I got there, I was told that we were to just ride along with basically anywhere we wanted to. So I headed to the starting line and tried to get as close to the front as I could, which was still a couple hundred people back, I'm sure. Anyway, they blow the horn and we're off! Well, not really. There was a lot of near-misses as people tired to clip into their pedals and get going without running anyone over, etc. But by the time we actually crossed the starting mats, things had worked themselves out and we were able to ride.

The pack took a while to gain speed, and I was passing people right and left as fast as I could. It's not a race, it's a tour, but all that means is 1) there's no "clock" and 2) you don't have to pay for a racing license. Oh, and 3) anyone and everyone can ride it. It's "family friendly." Anyway, for the first half of the course, there wasn't anything organized developing, everyone was basically riding at their pace. I did a lot more passing than being passed, occasionally jumping on to someone's wheel as they passed me, then using that pull to pass them. It wasn't until about the halfway point on 6200 South until I was cruising along and looked behind me to notice there were a half dozen people on my wheel. "Okay," I thought. "I'll pull for a while." I tried to put in little surges, but they stayed with me. "Looks like we might have a paceline developing here. Cool." Just after we turned onto Van Winkle, our little paceline, which I was still leading, got passed rather quickly in succession by two pacelines of guys in matching club jerseys (for the most part). I thought "Now that's what I'm talking about!!" and jumped on, along with 3 or 4 from my paceline. Which was fine, because I wasn't pulling anymore. Our group grew as we caught up to other packs of riders in front of us, and soon it seemed like there wasn't anyone in front of us, though I'd find out later there was. There were probably 25 or 30 of us in this little peloton as we turned off of Van Winkle onto 45th, then again onto 5th East. Those quick turns shed a few off the back, but the group was still cruising along at about 26 mph up 5th. About 33rd or 27th South someone decided to attack, and our group split in two. Fortunately, I was able to go with the "breakaway" and keep up with the first group. I hung with them until we turned onto State St. and began heading up the dreaded "hill". At that time, our smaller group splintered again and I fell back with a couple others. As we meandered around to the Gateway and crossed the finish line, I was surprised to a) have been handed a medal, and b) to see there were fewer than 100 of the over 1000 riders that started that had already finished. It took me 1:04:xx, which put me at an average speed of 22.5 mph for the 25 mile course. And it was a BLAST.

This experience showed me that maybe I would after all be able to hang with a peloton in a real bike race... at least with the cat 5 crowd. So now I'm looking for a couple of bike races to enter, probably starting with the Rocky Mountain Raceway criterium series... Bike racing -- er, I mean "touring" -- turned out to be sooo much funner than I thought it would!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Feeling better, ramping up

3 1/2 weeks until my century ride... Did I mention I'm riding the Ghost Town Century ride instead of the East Canyon Road Race? I figure I'll get a couple of good months of real training in before attempting a real "race"... so for now it's just the century ride, on May 1. Then there's a road race in the fall I'd like to train for.

10 days ago I went for a ride with a group from the old neighborhood from Sandy up to the top of Little Mountain pass. The mountain didn't seem so little to me then, though. I even surrendered to the granny gear (triple chainring) right toward the end. It didn't help that I didn't know where the end was. It was a good ride, almost 50 miles, and it gave me some confidence for the century ride. Running has slipped to almost nothing at this point (March - 19.3 miles run, 214 miles biked), but that's okay. The running will make a comeback slowly but surely this summer as lunchtime rides are relegated to odd-numbered days only.