Monday, October 20, 2008

The final event of the season

In a week that saw me get to hang out with some of cycling's top pros, Saturday's ride brought about one last connection with pro cycling. I did my last event of the season. As the pros were finishing up the 2008 season with the final pro tour race, the Giro di Lombardia in Italy, I was riding the Asti Tour de Vine in Sonoma County (you don't have to ask who was faster).

This is the first year I've ridden the Tour de Vine. It is a local charity ride with 25k, 50k and 100k routes. And even though I can ride these roads whenever I desire, I just had the feeling I would learn something new. So I set off for the start on Saturday morning on what promised to be a beautiful autumn day.

I arrived at the famous Asti Winery, which is now known as Cellar No. 8. On the drive up I was thinking that I was ending my season much the way I began it, riding solo. None of my core group could make it to this ride so I was on my own. On the drive, I also decided that I was going to do Fitness Journal proud as I was in my full FJ kit. So I dropped my original plan of taking things easy and decided to see how long I could push the pace.

As I rolled out at 7:30 I realized that this would be a true solo ride. This is a fairly new event so there were not a lot of riders and it seemed I was leaving a touch earlier then most. I set off on a pace that I hoped to maintain for the next 65 miles. My anticipation for finding a few new routes was not disappointed. I discovered a super cool bike path that had all the twists and turns of a roller coaster. I also found a beautiful road that has a temporary bridge across the Russian River during the summer.

As I enjoyed the new roads and scenery I was still trying to push the pace a bit. At this point I am probably averaging 20 mph, which is not bad for a solo effort. I reached the second rest stop, at 30k feeling great. That's when I discovered that there was 1 other 100k rider ahead of me by about 20 minutes. Could I catch him? I honestly doubted it. It would be hard to make up 20 minutes in the 70k. Still, it might be worth the effort.

So off I go. If I keep catching him as a goal I might stay motivated to maintain my brisk pace. As I roll through the vineyards of Sonoma County I am now focused on many different things other then the fall colors. How's my heart rate? Should I cruise or attack the next roller? Are there any signs of fatigue? Where is he now? I can't explain why but I felt like I was gaining on him.

Then I hit the wind. The course itself was not hard. It consisted mostly of rollers with 2 decent climbs thrown in for fun. However, the wind changed everything. In some sections I was using the same effort to maintain 14 mph that earlier had me rolling at 22. But still, I kept pushing. I almost cracked at 50 miles, and then again at 60. At the 62 mile mark I new I wasn't going to catch the dude up front so I back off the pace just a touch but still finished strong.

As I was packing up the bike to go enjoy lunch on the patio I was pleased. I basically did a 68 mile pull and I was never passed. The final numbers were 68 total miles, with a fair amount of that in the wind, and 1520 feet of climbing in just under 4 hours. All-in-all I feel that I met my objective of pushing the pace and wearing the FJ kit proudly.

At lunch, I ran into a guy I know casually from work (he is one of our vendors). So I joined him and we began to talk about the day. Come to find out he is the guy I was chasing. However, he left 35 minutes ahead of me and I only came in about 10 minutes behind him. That's a good enough effort for me.

On the drive home I felt the soreness start to set in. I know I am going to pay for this effort. But in the end, it was worth every pedal stroke to finish strong. I will now finish the year riding for the fun of riding. After this long year, I am really looking forward to it.


1 Comment(s):

Sarah said...

Sounds like it was good fun, Lee! I wish I could've joined. We would've made a nice team. Just too many things going on these days, it seems.

Nice ride report! How far away is Asti, btw?