Today we began our trek westward, from the seacoast of Maine to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
We reached the first rest stop, filled water bottles, ate some banana's and put some Gu packets in our pockets and some of us were ready to roll. Others waited behind for a few riders that had flats to catch up. The fearless five-some of Rolland, his son (Mike), Barbara, Joe (the number one fundraiser that I mentioneed in yesterdays entry) and myself set out together. Rolland led the pace line out, and never looked back. I would compare Rolland to a diesel locomotive. He rode in front and we all hooked ourselves up to him. At one point Joe got in front for a few minutes, and apparently Rolland did not like to follw, so he passed Joe and got on the front of the train again.
For those of you reading this who may not know, if you can ride directly behind somebody then you are able to conserve a LOT of energy by not having to push your body through the wind. The person in front of you has moved the air for you and you are basically riding in theor slipstream. So, when you find someone like Rolland who is the happiest when he is on the front of the pace line... you just ride and at the end of the day give him a good hardy hand shake and say Thank You.
Just after the covered bridge, Rolland and Mike went off the course to stop at a bike shop in North Conway, NH. That left just Barb, Joe and myself to finish together. Looking at the profile for the day, I knew there was a rather larger up hill just at the end of the ride, and Barb having done this ride before said that when you see the rock ledge, you are just about there She said it was steep but short, so you just put your head down and go for it. So I looked at my Garmin, noticed that we were almost at the 80 mile point, which was the total miles for the day, I looked up and saw a rock ledge and then I saw an incline that curved around some trees. Ok, put your head down and go for it. I did that and before I knew it, I was at the top. In my mind I was thinking... "That wasn't really that bad." Barb whizzed by me and said "That's it Chris, we're done. Just a couple loopies form here to the hotel." GREAT! I put the bike in a higher gear and pedaled hard to catch up to her so that we could catch up with Joe and we could all arrive together. Well, I saw another rock ledge, and ANOTHER incline, which was longer and steeper than the previous one. Seems that Barb's mempry is not all that good. So now I am in the wrong gear and out of breath. With 79 miles in my legs, I managed to make it up the incline, but I was D - O - N - E done. To make matters worse, on the downhill that followed, there was a headwind and we were struggling to reach 16 mph going down hill. It was a long day but I made it, with NO flats!.
Tomorrow is "The Day". Over 100 miles with LOTS of climbing. My plan is to not be so concerned with hanging with a certain group. I know that riders will be spread out the route tomorrow and I know that not all of them will be making it over both climbs. There is a very good possibility that I may not make it over both climbs, but I am determined to give it all that I have and like I have said before, I will stop to catch my breath and restore power to my legs and start pedaling again. In the words of Robert Frost;
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep"
(from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, which Frost wrote as he was travelling from New Hampshire to Vermont, which is what I'll be doing tomorrow.)
*** Garmin data just posted! Sorry I forgot last night.