The plan was to hook up with some of the MITMON folks at Starbucks before the ride, but I overslept and didn't leave the house until about 7:30. I'm so glad I got all of my equipment and gear ready the night before.
I pedaled on down, stopping at the store to get some Gatorade to mix with my water, and got into position only a few minutes before the start of the ride. I wasn't able to find anyone I knew, so I rode all the way to Ft. Calhoun solo.
In a way, this was a good thing. I didn't have to worry about going too fast with my family, who decided to sleep in this year, and I didn't have to worry about going too slow with all of the folks who ride really fast, but are friendly enough to let me tag along. For the first five miles, I rode along with the crowd, but then I thought, "why not speed things up a bit?" So, I did.
I started passing folks, advancing my way up. Mind you, not at any breakneck speed, or with crazy maneuvers, just a steady, but quicker pace than those around me. After a while I found that I was matching the pace with a line of four other guys who seemed to be hanging together. I rode like this until we hit Highway 75 and into the hills of Ponca.
Once we turned north on Highway 75, things changed, in a remarkable way. Those guys I had been drafting slowed down, considerably. Folks started shifting their chains off the cogs. Tandems began crawling. I pedaled on, shifting down only one gear, and just spinning away. From this point on, all the way up and down hills on Highway 75, I was only passed by a couple of riders, but I, myself, passed dozens of other cyclists. I'm not trying to toot my horn, but I think the past few weeks of single speed commuting has paid some measurable dividends. I wasn't crazy fast, but it felt awesome to keep a steady pace up the hills and easily pass so many people.
Once we got to Ft. Calhoun, I dropped off my ride tickets to prove that I was there. I grabbed a banana and some Fig Newtons, and stood in line to use the portable toilet. It was in Ft. Calhoun that I ran across Tim from UP, Rafal, and Angie E. from UNO. Tim was in a hot pink Veloshop racing kit, Rafal was in his Midwest Cycling gear with slick tires on this single speed, and Angie was sporting a new bike.
I rode back with Rafal and Tim, and that put to rest any ideas that I had about me being a fast rider today. Rafal, as always, is beast on the single speed Bianchi cyclocross bike, and Tim is just amazingly fast, especially on his lightweight titanium bike with 52 tooth chainring that looks like something that came out of a sawmill. I was dropped on most hills (the way back is more hilly than the way there), but caught up easily enough when the terrain flattened out a bit. I think Tim and Rafal were holding back. I did get very comfortable climbing out of the saddle on the Tricross today.
Either Rafal or Tim (I can't remember which) said that they averaged 18MPH. I'm not sure if that includes their trip out and back, or just their trip back when I rode along. 18 MPH isn't bad considering the hills on the north side of town.
I haven't heard any official tallies, but the Corporate Cycling Challenge may have set a new record this year with 4,500 participants, or at least registrations. The money collected by participants and sponsors goes to help with trail development in Omaha and eastern Nebraska.
- Cycling specific chamois shorts make a huge difference on long or hard rides. The Pearl Izumi shorts I picked up yesterday were worth every penny. Will I wear them to the grocery store or restaurant? No, that's what my knickers are for.
- I don't look nearly as fat as I thought I would in the chamois. There are a lot of people much larger than I am. However, if you have any pictures from today that suggest otherwise, please keep them to yourself.
- The cycling jersey I got, with pockets on the back, is comfortable and light, and also lets me carry snacks, wallet, phone, etc., without the need for an extra bag
- Snacks are not needed on the Corporate Cycling Challenge. There's an abundance of bananas and Fig Newtons at the turnaround points. I'll leave those home next year.
- Many people decked out in racing kits are slow.
- Many people wearing cutoff jean shorts and dirty t-shirts are fast.
- Make sure your tires are in good shape and properly inflated. After each rough railroad crossing were piles of people changing tires.
- Maybe I'll get a cycle computer on the Tricross to get better data on these kinds of rides.
See you all at the 20th anniversary 2010 Corporate Cycling Challenge next year.