As the ankle and toe pains of the past week abated, it was time to look forward to the Seagull Century Bike Ride this past Sunday. Leading up to the ride, I was most concerned about the lack of riding over the prior six weeks or so. Only a couple of rides in that period. My longest "training" ride was the 63 mile Lancaster Covered Bridge Ride, nearly two months ago.
The weather forecast as the days led up to the ride was questionable. Chances of rain ranged from 20-50%. Regardless, the ride would go on.
I picked up my buddy Bryan early Friday afternoon to head to Salisbury. Along the 100 mile ride, we saw bikes everywhere. That really gets the juices flowing.
We checked into the hotel, hit the expo and hooked up with Barry, Lisa, Dan and Steve (the first three from the Lancaster ride) for dinner. For dinner, we found an awesome home made pasta place just outside of the college gates -- Fratelli's. Bread, pasta, desert, good friends -- what more could you want!
Finally, we were back at the hotel at 9. Bryan and I got our bikes and gear ready for the morning, then a bit of tv and off to bed.
Our alarms were set for 5, but Bryan and I were up long before. I think I woke sometime in the 3 o'clock hour and just couldn't fall back to sleep. (I did get a nice chunk of the new Dan Brown book read, though.) Eventually, we gave up and just started to prep for the day.
Looking outside, the wind was kicking up, but it was dry. So far so good.
I headed down to the breakfast bar at the Hampton and grabbed two cups of coffee. Bryan was concentrating on getting in touch with some other members of our cycling club -- HoCoCyclists. By 6:30, we were out the door for the 7 am rolling start.
We quickly found parking behind an Arby's as the college lots were packed. We got moving at 7 as the sun was well hidden behind the ominous sky. As we moved to the start, we quickly found one of our club members -- Matthew.
Matthew, Bryan and me
At our start, the roads were dry. By mile 1, they weren't. Not a heavy rain, but not a mist, either. This is a first for me. I have caught more grief over my wimpy rain and cold aversions than just about anything else. Not today.
Most of the first 23 mile leg was in the rain. About five miles in, we caught up with Barry and Dan. The five of us were flying through the miles. At the stop, we were averaging 19.4 mph. By far my fastest ride, especially for that distance. The first stop was at a country club. One of my hopes on the ride was to meet a Facebook friend -- Ann. I met Ann through a former coworker who knew Ann from college. I found a group of National Capital TNT riders and asked if they knew where I could find Ann. Low and behold, she was right behind me!
After the first rest stop, we were back on the road in intermittent rain. We arrived at the second stop at mile 40 maintaining the same 19.4 mph pace.
We led out the first five or six miles at an even faster pace, but after pulling the paceline, I dropped back and fell off the pace. Shortly after I was dropped, I turned into the start of a brutal headwind. The winds on the eastern shore of Maryland are legendary, but hadn't been too bad up until this point. It seems that mother nature was getting even.
As I approached the rest stop at Assateague Island National Seashore, I started to feel some of the toe pain that I was feeling the week before during my long run. It wasn't terrible, but it was certainly noticeable.
I quickly found Barry and Dan (pictured) as well as Bryan and Matthew. Aside from being a beautiful rest area, there was also home made breads in addition to the usual bagels and bananas. I think I ate a half loaf of the cranberry bread. Mmmmm!
The next leg was pure hell. No other way to describe it. Leading out from Assateague, I never caught on to our pace line. As the miles ticked away, my toe pain grew, as did the headwinds. It seemed that no matter which way the road turned, it was into the wind. At times, I found my speed down under 10 mph. I was being relentlessly passed by every kid and granny on two wheels. By 70 miles, I was actively looking for a SAG vehicle. My day was done. Every turn of the pedals was excruciating, but there was no choice but to keep moving. Even the thought of pie and ice cream at mile 83 didn't help.
At long last, I pulled into the rest area and hobbled off the bike. Bryan greeted me immediately. I was relieved to see him and the others, as I thought they might have moved on given my slow travel. Bryan grabbed my bike and helped me over to the medical tent. I had every intention of packing it in at that point.
Clearly, the toe issue is due to striking on the ball of my foot. That is where I land when running and where my foot hits the pedal. I hadn't iced my foot before, but I did now. After 15 minutes of ice, and a slice of cherry pie, I decided to give the last 17 miles a go. On the way back to my bike, Barry yelled over to me to see if I could adjust my pedal strike position. So I did. As we took off, I hung with the paceline for five or six miles, with little pain, then dropped back. Bryan hung back with me and took me the rest of the way to the finish.
After we arrived back at the school, we hung out for a few hours at the after party, then off to a big dinner. I am incredibly grateful for my riding group, especially Bryan, for getting me to the finish line. I would have been most happy to get a four wheel ride back, but two was most definitely better.
The issue with my toe is still a concern, but I plan to start Marine Corps in 10 days and what will be will be.