H.O.T. Bike Ride

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The 20th annual H.O.T. (Heart of Tennessee) ride sponsored by Murfreesboro Outdoor and Bike (MOAB) was yesterday and I rode the 100 km “metric century” with my friend Rob Lennon. Had to get up at 4 am just to brew a cup of coffee, have a piece of toast, an\
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d get to Rob’s house by 5 am. It was an hour to Lacassas Elementary school where the event was staged. There was plenty of parking, efficient check-in, more coffee and bagels, but
not enough bathrooms for pre-race necessities (when there’s a line in the men’s room you know there’s a problem). I was looking for a last minute toilet when the race was starting and so we were one of the last ones out of the parking lot. There were probably 400 cyclists or so. The weather was cloudy and about 73 degrees, but the humidity was high.The first few miles were easy flats on country roads, but like all these rides, when your in a group of cyclist one tends to go faster so I had to consciously limit my speed remembering that I usually make the mistake of going out too fast. Even so, at about 15 miles, my legs felt a little heavy and I thought “this is not a good sign at less than 1/4 of the way to the finish”. There was a rest stop at mile 17 or so, with a mass of cyclists and bikes and a too-long line for the water and HEED (electrolyte drink).IMG_0528
We got back on our bikes and the little rolling hills started to increase. Our next landmark was the little town of Woodbury, TN, because we knew from the route map that the major hill of the ride started just outside of town. It started off easily enough, but the curving little swale just kept going and going and going. At one spot, a cyclist had dropped his bike on someone’s lawn and laid himself out on his back, gasping for air. I was too damn dyspneic myself to even ask him if he was OK (though I heard him reply in the affirmative to someone’s inquiry behind me). At the top, there were several “false summits” but at last we saw a van ahead laying out water bottles and ice and knew this had to be the apex. All told, we climbed about 500 feet in a little over 3 miles-the longest climb I’ve ever done.

After rehydrating and refilling our bottles, we took off down the descent on the other side of the ridge we had just climbed. What a glorious feeling, to have the wind whistling past your ears and your freewheel singing at over 40 mph! At the bottom of the hill there was a bone-jarring stretch of road for several miles with a terrible rough surface but the legs felt good and we averaged 18-19 mph along this stretch. Nest was the little town of Statesville and the next rest stop at the Grange. It included water, HEED, brownies, bananas, pastries, fruit, a large industrial-size fan blowing air in the shade, and a Tennessee Walking Horse! (One of the locals was prancing his steed up and down the road there and came over to see what all the commotion was about).IMG_0531

At this point in the ride (43 miles or so) I was feeling pretty good and the next several miles went well. Then, at about 55 miles, my legs started complaining enhanced by the topography which included seemingly an endless series of little rolling hills that individually weren’t bad but collectively took their toll. At one point, about five miles from the end, I heard another cyclist on the road next to me say “I am just hilled out”. It rained briefly which actually felt good and Rob went on ahead of me when I started to falter, but at last the school came into view and I pedaled into the parking lot.

There was a spaghetti dinner being served, but neither one of us wanted to eat, so we just got some cold water, changed into fresh clothes, and headed home. My final tally: 66.5 miles at an average pace (while riding) of 16.6 mph. Estimated calories burned: 2886 Estimated fluid intake during ride: 200+ fluid oz.

The web site: http://www.mborobike.com/ridecalendar/hot100.php

The route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/107001\
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