The alarm went off early, but we were pretty excited to stat the ride and rolled out of bed at 5:15 am. Connor was sleeping in his crib in our room, so we carefully snuck out of the bedroom and out to the living room which contained our biking clothes and bikes. We quickly got dressed and brought Granny over from next door. Just when we were going to leave Connor awoke in the next room. Sorry Granny! But we left the two of them reading some stories and let them know they should try to head over to the ride start by 6:30 am to see us off.
We headed to the ride head quarters in the darkness to eat some bananas, hard boiled eggs, and oatmeal at the ride center with some of our other bleary eyed teammates. After that there was a flurry of activity of attaching rider bibs, securing Domos to helmets and bikes or stuffing him in backpacks. (Thanks again Val for the cool idea!). We got a team photo at 6:45 but we probably only had about 20 out of our 31 riders represented. Such is the chaos of the morning ride.
|The official picture, although missing quite a few riders.|
The Penultimates more or less left as a pack, with the riders intending to do the slow ride leaving near the end. I departed with Ali and we cruised by Connor and the grandparents who gave us a warm send off.
And we were off - heading toward Espanola with a cool police escort. Always fun to ride on the road as if there were no cars around! Ali told me to go ahead and try to catch some of the riders doing the longer ride, but I am not that fast and ended up riding up most of the next 10 miles solo. Just as I pulled into the first stop the bulk of the Penultimates were just leaving, with the instructions to plan to stop at every other rest stop (meaning that rest stop 3 at 30 miles was the next rally point). I let them go ahead and waited until Ai got to rest stop 1 as well. We spoke briefly, and then I headed off to try (in vain) to catch up to the main group.
I had a nice meditative solo ride for the next 20 miles, catching up with Buddy at rest stop 2. I biked with him for most of the ride from mile 20 to mile 30. Near the end, I caught a pace line with a few riders from Los Monos Ayudantes which included a fellow rugby coach from the Los Alamos HS program. We made pretty good time, and I closed the gap between the Penultimate vanguard and myself significantly. I rolled in there just as the bulk of Penultimate headed off again. I recovered and waited for a while at there to see if Ali and the other 60 mile riders would get there (Val, Margaret, and Jen) but they never showed up. So I headed off again and rode with some new friends onto the next rest stop.
|Domo hanging out in Buddy's backpack was looking at me for many long miles!|
At rest stop 4 (mile 40) I caught up with Larry, John M, and Diane. At this stop was the decision on whether to head out to do the 100 mile spur, or continue on for 88 miles. My thoughts were that I could either drop the 100 mile spur, and catch up to the bulk of the main Penultimate riders and try to hang with them, but on closer introspection realized that I would be dropped by them too eventually. For that reason, and lots of encouragement from the other riders, I opted to go with the 100 mile spur and headed out with John M, Diane, and Larry. (Thanks for the encouragement guys!)
After a little rest and recovery at stop 4/5 we were ready for the final 10 mile leg before lunch. We also caught up with TJ, which had missed a turn and had gone out about 6 miles before returning to the course. So the 5 of us headed out to complete miles 50 to 60. It started with a relatively steep uphill section. At about a half mile into the hill, John got a flat tire, which necessitated us changing the tire on the extreme slope. Luckily, a sag vehicle stopped and helped us out. John got the tire changed relatively quickly, but then it took us a while to figure out why his brake was dragging. Finally after about 20 minutes we were ready to continue on.
|Field changing the tire.|
We had a nice lunch in the shade of big trees with John's wife Mary and his kids who where volunteering at the lunch site. After a quick lunch of sandwiches and chips, we headed off on the next segment. According to the rest stop volunteers, we were only about 25 minutes behind the main group when we got there, so that stretched onto an hour by the time we left. At this point we were 60 miles in, so 40 miles left and 3 stops.
|Heading out after lunch.|
|At rest stop 7!|
These passed rather uneventfully, if slowly. We were just ahead of the van that was breaking down the rest stops (there were only a handful of riders behind us now) as we headed off. The climb out of Espanola toward the casino was extra grueling, and my cycle computer showed just shy of 100 as we topped the hill. The last little bit down the hill and to the casino went pretty quick, and we were greeted at the finish line with friends and family. One thing I am very proud of is that I was the "penultimate Penultimate" to cross the line (the second to last rider for our team to cross the finish line). Sure, there can only be one person to finish first, but there can also only be one penultimate rider too!
All told a long day - depart at 7 am finish at 5 pm for slightly over 100 miles covered! We definitely could have shaved about 45 minutes off our time if we would have had better luck with tire, but a finish is a finish. Take that MS!