Bikefest was one of those "good news - bad news" experiences. First the bad news...
Gwynn and I arrived in Hillsborough early enough to park in close proximity to the start. It's always impressive to see how many volunteers the Tarwheels have on-hand to help at such an early hour.
Watching the cloudy sky, we waited until about 7:15 to ride to the starting area. It began sprinkling with a few minutes to go, so we took "shelter" under a maple tree. The sprinkle became a rain in time for the starter to apologize for the weather before turning us loose. The pace heading out of town was reasonably (and responsibly) tame. I've since learned that there were some Gyros up front that may have contributed - thanks folks.
Somewhere around mile 16 we struggled up a long hill and rode for a few miles with two other bikes. At about mile 22, I had that sickening, wobbly feeling that happens as your rear tire slowly goes flat. It wasn't raining when we stopped under a row of cedars but, as another heavy rain began, we quickly found that a cedar makes a much better "umbrella" than a maple tree. While it certainly wasn't one of my quicker tire changes and we weren't sidelined for long, two different SAG vehicles stopped and offered assistance. What a great group of volunteers!
We rode past the first break at ~25m with an on-the-bike average of 20.6mph. From there until we stopped at the second break, we rode with various small groups. At one point the unmistakable sound of a bike hitting the pavement several bikes behind me caught my attention and we stopped (along with some others closer to the action) to lend assistance. Miraculously, the cyclist (not the bike) had landed in the grass and both the rider and the bike were able to continue.
Somewhere before the second break there was a turn with arrows pointing left, as well as straight. The "official" arrow, like the ones adorning this year's (unimaginative) t-shirt, pointed straight and the group ahead of us had almost figured that out, so we weren't delayed for long. I guess that I've stopped at (or ridden past) the church hosting the break at least 6 or 8 times over the years and never noticed how beautiful it is until this grey day. Maybe it was the homemade banana bread that opened my eyes.
We were hoping to join a group of bikes leaving the break, but it seemed as though everyone decided to have a second helping of the many delicious snacks. A volunteer (there's that word again) gave me a paper towel to clean our glasses and for the mile-and-a-half it took to find the next rain shower, we were able to clearly see the road ahead.
We eventually found a small group and finished the 63m route with a 19.2mph on-the-bike average speed. Since there were more clouds looming overhead, we quickly packed-up, changed, and headed back to Raleigh. On the way home we were delayed by a rain-induced traffic jam and drove through a very heavy downpour near Briar Creek. Back home in North Raleigh the sun was shining.
You might ask: "So what's the good news?"
When I got my bike out of the car when we got home, the rear tire was flat again. 8>)
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revised on Saturday, February 28, 2015.
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