Speed was the name of the game at this year’s Savannah Century in Savannah, Georgia. I’ve had a goal in mind for the 102 miles. I didn’t know exactly what it would take to accomplish my goal, not having a support vehicle handing me bottles or being able to stop at any rest areas. I stuffed my jersey with two bottles and had to two on my bike.
At one of the largest sportives that I attend, with around 2000 riders registered, from the start I worked my way to the front, to hook into the “lead” group over the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. It truly is one of the coolest views of any event I’ve done. The sun coming up over the east coast and bathing the city and the massive Savannah River in a yellow/orange light. I must admit, in the beginning and the beauty of it all, my brain was screaming negative thoughts already!The group was not working together. Many wanted to just sit in, while ten of us rotated on and off the front. My heart rate was at maximum, and I was getting aggravated, at a cruising speed of 27.8 mph! I started slipping back until order was restored. It became more even keel a few miles down the road. The speed began to level, and we stayed between 24 and 31 . . . but the “passengers” were still there, pedaling along quite comfortably. Grrrrrr
It’s always good to have ammunition in a foreign pack. I had two other strong riders from the bike shop I use in Columbus, Georgia. For whatever reason, the attacks began and stayed consistent throughout the ride! I kept encouraging people to work as one until we were at least within ten miles or so from the finishing line, but oh noooooooo. So there we were with very strong riders, decent riders, people who thought they were strong, and of course the passengers. I settled in and felt good, once I was able to recover and hydrate and get a bite. I had convinced my brain to calm down and understand that I’ve got this. The goal was still within reach.
Miles 50, 60, 80, and 90 clipped by at a good pace. At that point we were averaging 23.4 MPH and then it happened. I was actually ahead of my pace for my goal, so there was no need for panic . . . but I felt the first twinge in my right hamstring . . . wait, yes . . . also my left quad. These last twelve miles could have the high possibility of sucking. At specifically mile 91, it happened. The hamstring locked up, and I went to a bigger gear to push it out and it helped a bit. The group was starting to pull away. They were still within sight at 93, but it wasn’t looking good. My left quad thought it might as well join hamstring’s party.
A red light at a major intersection caused me to hold up, and most of you know what happens when you allow cramping muscles to take a break . . . yep, lock down. Mind over matter, dude! Push through this crap! Clip in and get your rear-end moving! So I did. Jens Voight began chanting his theme in my head. At mile 96 a group that had fallen away from us, early in the ride, caught up to me. I swung in line. I looked at my Garmin. I was still within reach. At mile 100 the cramps were blinding. I told myself that I would blow a hamstring before I allowed my body to tell me what it was and was not going to do. Finishing line in sight, I rolled in with my 4:30ish goal being accomplished at 4:35:55! Now, I will spend a good amount of time studying cramps. I am starting to be plagued by them often. I’ve heard all of the “remedies,” but I need to discover the reason.