A fast, fun and eventful century ride on Saturday!
The 2015 Mount Dora Bike Festival was this past weekend, and the century ride was Saturday morning. I, along with a small group of friends (Al, Hector, Jose and William), decided to do the route, but we rolled from home instead of the Mount Dora Chamber (the official start). The plan was to roll at 6:30, and join the peloton at some point along the way.
When we set off it was dark and foggy. We all had tail lights, but Hector was the only one with a front light: he lit the way until the sun began to break.
About 13 miles in to our ride we decided to stop and wait for the peloton, which we expected to be along at any time. After about 10 minutes of standing around with no sign of the group, the five of us elected to ride on knowing that the large and fast moving peloton would quickly catch us.
About 40 miles into our ride we were surprised that the peloton had still not caught up to us! We were purposely riding at a moderate pace (our average to that point was about 21.5 MPH), and we knew the peloton would be rolling at about 26 MPH on the ~10 mile stretch we’d just completed.
It was at this point that my entire Di2 system shit the bed. I went to make a shift, and… nothing. I tried again, no shift. I knew the battery had a full charge, so that couldn’t be it. We’d just gone over the St. John’s River drawbridge, which has a rough metal grate, and I wondered if maybe something had rattled loose? Or, I thought, perhaps the Di2 crash protection system had been triggered, which locks out shifts. I tried the crash reset procedure as I rolled, and still no joy.
I REALLY didn’t want to do it, but I needed to stop so I could make a quick check of the Di2 connections. Luckily we were approaching a turn with a convenience store, and we decided to stop there.
I knew the peloton was bearing down on us, and I probably only had a minute or two before it rolled through. We had to be ready to rock if we had any hopes of latching on, so I worked quickly.
All my connections were good. I removed the battery and re-connected it. I tried the crash protection reset again. Nothing. Drat!
One of the guys said, “Here they come!” I looked up and saw the big group approaching the corner.
“Well,” I thought, “it looks like I’m going to be riding a single speed for the next 60 miles.”
I mounted my bike and saw that I was stuck in 50/15. Not a great gearing considering I knew we’d be moving 27-30+ MPH for large stretches.
The peloton whizzed by, and the five of us began to chase it down. Because I was stuck in 50/15, I had to spin my ass off to catch the group–they were really flying!
It took me about a mile of riding at more than 370 watts, between 28-29 MPH with a cadence of 110-115 RPM, before I managed to catch the group.
After I caught the group, I sat in for a few miles while I continued to try and bring my drivetrain back to life. I tried the crash reset a couple of times, and actually managed to get a few shifts in! I was able to shift the rear derailleur to the 14t cog–not ideal, but better than 15t at the speeds we were doing. I was still spinning very quickly, but I’m comfortable with high cadence riding.
What really sucked is that whenever we had to stop, slow or climb, getting back up to speed mashing 50/14 was tough. As the ride wore on, this really took its toll on my legs.
Unfortunately Al, part of our original group of 5, blew a tire somewhere behind us. I actually heard the bang (it was loud!) but I didn’t know it was Al. Jose and William were with him, and they stopped while Al fixed the flat. Not long after that, Al flatted again, and this time the tire was hosed. Luckily he was given a tire by one the of shop cars (I think–sorry, can’t recall for sure), and was able to continue the ride.
Meanwhile, back in the main peloton, Hector and I were riding together and both feeling good. I knew from experience that the big group was about to be cut down to almost nothing. There’s a major SAG stop at mile 65, and almost everyone stops there. I didn’t want to stop, but I also didn’t want to run out of water (you may recall that last year I did this same ride with just two water bottles and no SAG stops, but I ran out of water with about 15 miles to go. That sucked.)
So Hector and I took stock of our hydration situation, and we decided we had enough water to do the full hundred with no SAGs. We blew through the 65 mile SAG stop along with about a dozen or so other riders. Just like that, the once big peloton was now a very small group.
There were a few attempts to get a rotating paceline going, but it was a disaster. Eventually that idea was abandoned, and we went back to taking short pulls.
There was another SAG at about the 76 mile mark. The small lead group decided to make a quick stop there, so Hector and I pulled off and waited (we did not SAG, nor could we because we were not part of the official ride–fair is fair). After just a couple minutes we were back on the road and grinding out the last part of the ride.
By the time we hit the rollers close to my home, there were just 10 of us left in the front group. We were all, of course, tired, but most of us were putting in the work.
The 50×14 gearing really hurt as we hit some of the hilly areas during the last 10 miles. Then, something happened that has not happened to me in more than two years: I cramped. Specifically, my left hamstring locked up. All that low cadence mashing up the hills and getting back up to speed after slows/stops took its toll, I guess. I downed a Salt Stick tab, and kept riding. I was in agony, but there was no way I was going to lose the front group after 90 miles. Thankfully the Salt Stick capsule worked its magic, and after about 5 minutes the cramping stopped.
Because there were only 5 of us for the first 40 miles, my average speed on this ride was not as fast as it was last year (22.5 MPH this year vs 23.1 MPH last year), however I put out more watts this year (I even set a new 4.5 hour wattage PR) and definitely felt that this year’s ride was the stronger of the two.
As for the Di2 issue, I got that resolved once I got home. It was the new main junction box that I bought a couple months back. I had replaced the original junction box, which worked, as a preventative measure because I had to do a wire solder on it and I was worried that the shrink tube over the repair would not be water-tight. 25k miles, and this was the first time I’ve ever had a problem with Di2. Whatever, it’s under warranty and the forced SS workout took me out of my cadence comfort zone.
Awesome ride with a great group!