While I was up in Greensboro visiting Watts last month, he told me about his silly idea for a ride.
"Why would I come up to Greensboro to ride a hundred miles on a road bike? Stupid."
I don't know what overcame me, but for some reason I set everything in motion to join in, despite my initial reaction and four weeks to come up with excuses to not go.
Up at 5:24AM, scoop Bill Nye (who just got off a 12 hour shift), drive to Greensboro, find Watts and Niner Mike... get my bike. Tool around in the parking lot with plastic pedals and flip flops, decide it fits well enough, swap the pedals out for my XTRs, change clothes, and amble around eating aluminum foiled rice balls to kill time.
We roll outta town. The pace, pleasant. The conversations, jovial...
Then that thing happens that always happens when you get a bunch of testosterone rolling forward. The pace picks up and pain is felt by those who don't function well at this level. Fortunately for me, we stop at the first convenient store for water. I need to raise and straighten my saddle. Perhaps setting the bike up with flip flops was not a great idea. I am the last person ready to leave. Thorry.
We roll out from the stop, and we're headed for the first "sprint" into Erect. I forgot what happens when the peleton approaches a sprint. The speed increases and somehow I find myself towards the front of the field. I'm struggling. We've barely covered 40 miles so far.
The group was swapping turns at the front, and I did a terrible job hiding. My turn to take a pull. I do what I can to keep the current pace for awhile, peel off, feel like I'm still mashing the pedals... only to watch the riders pull away. I'm dropped. I look over my shoulder to see I wasn't the first. I fall back into the group behind, even more groups are in tatters further back. It's gonna be one of those days.
Our group makes it to the store stop in Erect, no idea how far behind the lead group. I've already eaten all the rice things I had shoved in my pockets. I grab a chocolate Yup and a hot ham and cheese sandwich. We pose for a group picture at the Erect town sign.
I overheard somebody say we're going to go slower for awhile.
The large group becomes two groups becomes three groups becomes many groups, stragglers and hangers-on. We try to regroup at a stop sign, but we're not even sure how many riders we started with this morning. We agree to go slower... again. Once we get rolling, we quickly splinter back up in our survivor-bond packs.
I make a pact to stick with Bill Nye. I have little desire to turn myself inside-out to stay in any group, regardless of the known benefits of riding with others. What follows is very vague and fuzzy in my memory. Heat, wishing I was alone, thinking about how if I was alone, I would take a nap. I'm tired.
Another store. Another chocolate Yup. More road. Our group is down to six... I think.
And then something something and we're just four now. Bill Nye, Niner Mike and Eddie.
Eddie announces that we'll go right past his office. Cold water and such. No pizza tho. We stop anyways. The water was indeed cold.
More miles and more turns and we're back at the shop. One hundred and twelve miles on the day.
Watts, Bill Nye and I left drinking. This is what I'm trained for. We stay and drink some more.
Up at 6:00AM, slight headache, in the car at 6:07AM, Bill Nye figures out his phone is back at the house, turn-around... headed back towards Charlotte at 6:16AM.
Late edit: Always say something nice. The route was splendid. Rolling country roads with minimal traffic and things to look at. And did I mention the taco truck at the end... and the kiddie pools... and all the uneaten guac I found (and ate) around the shop after everyone left... and the selection of beers? Now I did. The only thing really wrong with the whole ride was me.