Posts Tagged tennessee

Harpeth River Ride 2010 – A Rider’s Diary

The Harpeth River Ride was my first supported ride of the season. This cycling season has not been as momentous as last year was. I spent a couple of months trying to get over being sick. I knew I would not be in shape for 3-State this year so I decided not to sign up for it. Cherohala Challenge is not convenient and I wasn’t ready for it either but I had to find something to ride. I checked the listings and saw one in my backyard called the Harpeth River Ride. It seemed reasonable as it travels over some roads that I ride every weekend.

The event is sponsored by Nissan and Harpeth Cycling Club. Everything started and ended at the corporate office in Franklin, TN. The organization was great. They were even able to get three Radioshack riders to ride in the event. Pretty cool. On race day they corralled everyone into whatever mileage you were going to ride. I had a yellow wrist band as I figured I’d do the 100 mile. The other riders were behind the 62, 42 and 24 mile signs waiting to go.

The ride was lead out by a couple Nissan pace cars, the Radioshack dudes and a few adaptive athletes. They lead the “peloton” through a parade of sorts then on to the open road. We had the pace cars in front of us longer than I suspected we would. They pulled us all the way through and past the Franklin Square which was kind of cool. Things stayed bunched up.

We got to the 62/100 mile split and I opted for the 62 mile route at that point. Why? Because it was incredibly hot. Damn hot. I wanted to try to enjoy the ride and not allow it to become a tortuous death march.

The roads were typical Tennessee country roads. Lots of short and small hills. It was hardly ever flat but the hills were nothing that would cause you any trouble. What did cause trouble was the incessant wind and heat.

I had little trouble riding the metric century as it is something that I typically do every weekend. The problem is I typically head out when it’s that hot around 6am. The ride did not start until after 7:30 as they introduced adaptive riders and guests. They had us waiting for a sweltering 15 minutes before hitting the road. On most days by 7:30 I would have completed around 30 miles. I just wasn’t ready for the blast of heat that we had on Saturday. I would have had a lot of trouble completing 100 miles. I am glad I did the metric. No shame there. I was spent. I didn’t want to ride another mile when I got back to Nissan.

Honestly I didn’t enjoy the ride. Fighting the wind and heat just wore me out physically and mentally. The ride was well supported. Nissan and the Harpeth Cycling Club did a great job. I just hope next year it is less windy and 10 degrees cooler.

One thing that I discovered was that riding 62 miles is pretty cool. I have always done the 100 mile option on supported rides. But 62 is a distance that I ride close to every weekend. I can ride the route fast. I don’t hit a wall. I feel fine when I finish. The 100 mile rides always wear me out for the rest of the day. It’s tough to train for 100 miles. I can’t ride 80 miles+/3 times a week. I just don’t have the time. If I did I bet I would feel just as good as when I rode the 62 mile option based on my current training. Something to consider for future rides. I will always want to ride the full 6 Gaps and 3 States 100 mile routes though. Epic rides are always worth suffering through.

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Heart of Tennessee 2009 – H.O.T. 100 – A Rider’s Diary

Today I woke at oh-dark-thirty to ride in the Murfreesboro Bicycle Club H.O.T 100 century. Frankly it was a pleasant event through some very hilly Middle Tennessee countryside. After the last two events I’ve ridden this summer I wasn’t expecting this event to be terribly demanding. I was wrong. It was a nice challenge made even more so by the weather. Only this time it wasn’t rain, cold or heat.

A nice crowd of a few hundred people (I’m not good at estimating) rolled out en masse from Lascassas Elementary School. Unlike the last two rides I wasn’t exactly humble about getting to the front quickly and riding a tempo I am used to on most rides. I’ve never really rode these events for time in the past as the goal was always to finish. I decided that I wanted to do a sub-6 century and even counting stops be back to the car in 6 hours. The route was basically two large loops. If you were doing the 100 route you went out on the second loop.

The route was rather challenging. It was rarely flat. Lots of little rolling hills. They kept coming and coming and coming. They didn’t stop until I got back to the parking. There was one nice climb at around 30 miles that was quite surprising. I looked down and there was a percent grade written on the road. 16%. Then 15%. 14%. All the way to 11%. Are you kidding me? Maybe in Chattanooga, but in nowhere Mid TN? It was a nice grind.

After that climb there was a rest stop which I decided to bypass. I decided that I was going to treat this event just like my normal Saturday rides that are 50+. I wouldn’t stop until rest stop 3 at 53 miles. I stopped at the last two to get more water/Heed and food. And let me say that the sponsors that put those together did an incredible job. They had anything and everything that you could possible want. From gel squirts to watermelon to beef jerky. I was extremely happy to see the beef jerky. I’d been using that to boost my sodium levels over the last week.

There was another surprisingly long climb across a ridge within some woods. I think it was Pleasant Ridge and it was no joke. It was a very long climb. Maybe 2 miles or a little longer? You may be riding in the middle of Tennesse but don’t underestimate the topography. It’s too bad there aren’t some mountain biking courses built around there.

I’m not certain if there were a lot of people that did the 100 miles. I rode in a couple of fast moving pace lines that was fun but for the most part I dangled out on the course alone. Probably 90% of the time I rode solo.

Which ended up being problematic. Somewhere around 60-70 miles the wind picked up. Nothing messes with my mind more than wind. And it seemed like I was mostly pushing into a head wind. It was so tiring. The last 20 miles were rather brutal. I remember coming down a decline where I would have expected to be going 20+ and I could only go 13 mph. That was disheartening. I had never ridden that long in the wind. And I was alone so it didn’t make matters easier either.

Ever since Cherohala I had been worried about cramping. I got a calf cramp around 80 miles which was a drag but I worked through that. I drank a lot the few days before. Ate a lot of high sodium foods and snacks. Way more than usual. I ate a banana 2 hours in. Another banana at 4 miles in. Took 1 Enduralyte about every hour. Stayed hydrated.

The roads were a drag in the 100 mile loop and a few other sections. They were old farm roads with potholes and extremely tooth rattling rough texture. It was horrible in places. But there aren’t a ton of roads in Mid TN so they worked with what they had a came up with an overall good course.

I happily finished the whole course, rest stops and all, well under 6 hours. If I didn’t have to deal with the wind and stayed in a paceline for more than half the time I feel like I could have gone sub 5 for ride time. That will be a goal for another time. The route was a bit over 101 miles. It was a good day. And I was glad to ride an event that was close to home.

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