Ride summary by Tom Sheffield

bicycle chain

I had two goals going into this year's Bridge-to-Bridge ride. I attained my first goal and stayed with the lead pack until we got the beginning of the NC181 climb. I missed my second goal (a sub-6 hour result) by 1 minute and 7 seconds.

The start was pretty fast (25+mph), with a team "DeFeet" tandem pulling the pack for the first 10 miles. The "lead" pack was very large, and after the "warm-up", we settled into a relatively slow pace. There were a couple places where it was a little tough for me to maintain contact. One was in downtown Lenoir at around 30 miles into the ride. The other was in the "rollers"  heading out of town toward NC181. Our average was 22.8mph when we reached NC181. I made a startling discovery during this first 50 miles: My progress as a cyclist has taken me from the point where I got "pissed-on" figuratively (as I frequently joined the Goober Group very early in these rides), to a position in the lead pack where I can get "pissed-on" literally (something else to worry about).

This year's ride was 105.5 miles. YES, the extra 1/2 mile is important - especially in this ride. After creeping up NC181 and dropping most of the pack "off the front", I was happy to see Gwynn waiting for me at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, with fresh water and something to eat. The kiss for luck must have worked, because a few miles later on my way to Linville I joined paceline of 5 or 6 bikes which was exactly what I'd hoped for during this part of the route. We soon absorbed another 6 or 8 bikes as we made our way up NC105 toward the next climb on Shull's Mill Road. I benefitted from having ridden this climb with Kurt the day after Blue Ridge Brutal back in August. I knew there weren't any long steep sections and there were occasional places to accelerate. I dropped the paceline, passed about a dozen other bikes and pulled-in behind 4 other bikes just as we turned onto US221 near Blowing Rock and headed back toward Grandfather Mountain. After the short down-hill it only took a couple of rotations through this line to figure out that the other participants were too tired to be of any benefit to me, so I took off in search of another wheel to follow. I came across one of the "DeFeet" guys and I said "I know something must be wrong, because I don't usually ride with people wearing "DeFeet" jerseys at this point in the ride". He replied: "I've been talking to Elvis on this ride". I felt pretty good climbing Grandfather Mountain, just turning over the pedals, without any major physical complaints. However, the last 20 yards at the top were more difficult than previous years. Visions of doing an "Allen Walker" in front of that crowd entered my mind, and that provided the motivation I needed to get across the finish line.

6h1m7s. My time was a minute and a half better than last year. However, since my finishing position improved by over 50 places, and the course was about 3.5 miles longer than last year, I'm very pleased.

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