Monday, April 16, 2012

Making an Impression on a Group Ride

Reminder - I'm still hoping to find folks willing to sponsor me for the Palmetto Peloton Project's Stars and Stripes challenge.   I need approximately 10 people to donate $25 each to help Cancer Research and Support in order to reach my goal.  The money that is raised is given to the organizations helping current cancer patients as well as funding research here locally in the Upstate.  If you can help support me, please go to the donation page and select "Brian Lube" from the drop down list.  If you have already donated to support me, please drop me a line and let me know so I can make sure that your donation is properly documented.  Thanks again for all the support during this journey!

This week I found out about a group ride that was being sponsored by one of the local racing groups in support of one of their sponsors:  Proaxis Therapy.  The purpose of this ride was to gain awareness for the services that Proaxis has and provide knowledge to the riders that may be beneficial.  It sounded like a really good time, thus I signed up to attend.  After church on Sunday I suited up with a brand new Jersey (my favorite Star Wars one is just too big now at XXXL, the new UCF one I'm wearing is a nice L with a little room in it at this point.  I'm calling it "club fit") and headed to the meet point.

I got there and met up with a bunch of the Brookwood Church folks that usually are on the Sunday ride that I attend, and we all had a chance to chat and such.  One of the guys that I knew even won the door prize of new water bottles from Greenville Cycling Center!  After the door prizes were handed out, we headed out on the ride.  We took off through Heritage park, and I made note that they have Train Rides for $2 over there, and enjoyed the scenery.  Through much of the first part of the ride I was mostly aware of the area that we were riding in, and with the large number of people in the "B" ride (there had to be 25+ of us in the group) I wasn't having to put out a large effort.  I did get separated from Joel at the beginning, so I was looking to drop back some, but I was happy overall with my position in the group.

Then, about 30 minutes into the ride, it happened.   I was attempted to signal that the right shoulder wasn't clean, and I ended up instead hitting some of the "not clean" section of the right shoulder!  The next part is a blur in memory, but I remember knowing that I just had to hang on and not do anything drastic.  I knew that oversteering or overbraking at this point would mean disaster, and would more than likely hurt someone else more than it would hurt myself.  I felt myself heading deeper into the shoulder, and saw brush (and wasn't sure if it was a fence, too) on my right side.  All of the sudden my handlebars touched the brush, and the rest became history.

I got up rather quickly to proclaim "I'm alright", with the response of "no you're not!" coming back and me rather quickly.  I took a quick survey of the bike and myself, and I didn't feel anything that was out of place or broken.  I found both of my water bottles, and I checked my front tire which was still round and in fact still inflated.  I then tended to a few of the cuts that were deeper, and the SAG vehicle came over and helped me clean up a bit more and bandage up my finger which had the worst of the cuts.  A few ants, mostly scrapse and one decent cut.  Not too bad.  I gathered up the rest of the stuff that fell off, fixed my front light (which was now pointing to the ground) and started testing everything out.  Next I figured out that my front Derailuer was turned, such that I couldn't move the chain.   A quick adjustment to move it back to in line with the crank, and I thought I was good to go.  I got about 200' up the road and something didn't feel right. Come to find out, my rear tube was completely flat!  A couple of folks had stayed back with me (thanks Jerry and Ken!) and quickly Jerry had the rear tire off and was switching out the tube.  The "C" group goes flying past, and we're still putting the bike back together.  After a grand total of about 15 minutes, I was finally able to get back up and rolling.

Now the fun started.

We gave the "B" group a 15 minute head start, and the "C" group had passed us before we started moving, but I just got onto Jerry's wheel and we took off.  We went through just some amazing countryside, and a part of me is wondering how I was able to admire it as we went into Spartenburg county, and I learned about the estates out there with vineyards that had grapes that started with S (Jerry couldn't remember the name off hand) and we kept on moving.  I wasn't really paying attention to the speed, except to see that the average speed on my bike computer kept increasing.  Then we started seeing other riders.  We found the C group!  We found them, and proceeded to go right through them on our way to see if we could catch up with the B's.  About 10 minutes later while climbing one of the tougher hills of the afternoon we see Dan jumping into the back of the SAG truck to change a flat.  We rolled up and had to exclaim "we didn't know we could change the flat on the back of the truck" as we went through.  It had only taken us approximately 40 minutes to close a 15 minute gap that had been created by the crash!

After we got caught up, we stayed with the group for a bit, until we got back to 101.  At this point there is a sharp right turn, and then a steep hill.  We came to a stop, and I didn't manage to get into the proper gear in time.  It became an epic struggle to get up the hill, and at this point Joel had a pretty decent gap between himself and the back of the group.  I dropped back with him, and the two of us ended up just teaming up the rest of the way home.  For all the times that Joel has stayed back with me when I was off the back, I felt honored and priveledged to spend the time back there with him yesterday.  To me that was better than any time trial or any personal goal out there on the road.  We made it back without any additional incidents.  When we got back, I had plenty of folks that were commenting on the ride, and how surprised they were that I wasn't more seriously injured.  To that I give all the credit to God, as he was the one in control of that situation.  I know I sure wasn't, and I know luck has nothing to do with situations.

The most interesting part, though, is the comments that I have gotten since last night:

Epic wipeout indeed! Didn't even miss a beat...tried to jump right back on the bike like nothing happened!
epic wipeout indeed! I heard something behind me and turned my head to see your bike flying upside down into the the brush. I rode back thinking I would see someone badly injured, but you seemed to only have picked up a bunch of leaves and grass and a few ants.
I can't wait to read your blog about the ride today!
Were you doing full spandex cycle jousting? 

I will say that I definitely made an impression with a large number of people yesterday, although honestly I'm not sure if I can say if it was a positive or negative overall impact.  I would suggest that if you are looking to meet new people and cycling is your thing, areal acrobatics will definitely get you attention (although you may require medical attention as well!).  After my experiences, I think any career in "full spandex cycle jousting" will have to wait, though.

I do count myself as absolutely blessed that not only was I not injured as a part of this ride, but that after the crash I was able to get back on the bike and complete it.  Not only does it remove any lingering fear that I may have had regarding riding again, as I got back up and got back on the bike immediately, but it showed me that I'm not invincible on the bike without causing myself a lot of damage.  As it is I think this week is going to be a "resting" week for me as I prepare for the 5k on Saturday, and the upcoming Wheels for Meals ride on April 28th.  Letting my body mend and having good fresh legs for the weekend I think are going to be key this week.

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