Six hundred riders, twice the number that registered last year, lined up Saturday in the Burnsville town square for the Burnsville Metric. I put together a group of eight who went up for the ride and stayed at the NuWray Inn, which is about 100 yards, as the crow flies, from the starting line.
Saturday started with an early breakfast at the Inn, a quick trip through ride registration (managed by the folks from the Celo Inn and Bicycle Inn), throwing on the cycling kit, then a few minutes of circling ’round the square while I tried to spot friends who were also riding. Five minutes before the 9 AM start the bulk of our group lined up in the middle of the pack. On the dot, we were rolling.
The 20 miles to the first rest stop were a blur. Early on, I was in a group that numbered about 75, and my main concern was keeping an eye on the riders around me while not getting dropped. Every small rise caused a few people to pop off the back; after about 15 miles we were down to a compact group of about 20. Our average at the first stop was about 21.5. We paused briefly, picked up another rider who wanted to join us, then took off.
The next 20 miles was mostly in a valley, and we kept rolling along at a decent pace. There were five of us Greensboro riders in the paceline, and a few others who wanted to ride at a similar pace. We kept a paceline rotating; the occassional bridge or railroad track crossing strung us out, and we would pause a bit and let everyone catch up.
At one point, a couple who had been sitting at the back of the paceline came to the front, accelerated, and took a long, hard pull. Not exactly great paceline etiquette, but that stuff happens. What spooked us, though, was the erratic way one of them was riding. At one point she drifted left then veered sharply in front of the rider behind her to maintain her place. Rather than pulling through and maintaining the group’s speed she would hammer for all she was worth, then slow down. After a while I dropped back along the paceline and suggested to the others that we let these folks go. We did.
I think we were just short of the 40 mile mark when the fun ended and the road turned up. The first climb probably lasted no more than a mile, but it felt like twice that. At the top of the climb we refueled at rest stop #2 (average so far: 19.8 mph), then resumed climbing. The next 10 miles were a succession of sharp climbs followed by switchback descents. We took a final run down a steep hill, across a bridge where we were buffeted by strong crosswinds, and into rest stop #3.
A quick stop and we were rolling again, hoping to beat the rain that was coming.
Stuart Larry David was a hero and kept us moving up a long set of climbs, into headwinds, into the drizzle. And soon enough we were headed for the final, cruel climb — a steep, quarter mile incline that ends on the town square. A moment of pain and most of us were home.
Most. A couple of our group rolled in later, and got to finish the last ten miles in the rain.
Totals for the day: 58.2 miles at 17.3 mph.
Great ride. I’ll do it again.