In typical disorganized #Gears fashion, this backblast is several weeks late and missing details. Enjoy.
The premise was simple: ride our bikes 100 miles from Columbia (actually St. Matthews – more on this later) to Charleston on Friday, and run the Cooper River Bridge Run the next day. So with almost no plan (except for a place to stay), 6 riders embarked on a brisk tour of the Lowcountry, and 4 of us decided that the century wasn’t enough, so we needed to run over a bridge with a bunch of walkers, who all appeared to be holding hands, and a whole bunch of other F3 guys that didn’t ride a bike anywhere #skirts. And all of this also included the constant (and when I say constant, I really actually mean constant) commentary and shenanigans of our generous SAG vehicle driver, Parker Cains (did I say constant?).
The beauty of this event was its, shall we say, spontaneous and organic nature. I think Strummer posted a pre-blast sometime in the winter with generic information, and followed that with maybe a tweet or two over the course of 3 months. And maybe a mention before, during and after weekend rides. That was pretty much it…and on Thursday, April 3, the Spartan crew, joined by 2 more real cyclists from Strum’s racing days, got a route map and instructions to meet at Joey’s house at 6:45 AM. So we did (well, a few minutes late because Mutiny’s morning routine required a few extra dozen minutes). Everybody on the bus (meaning the Cole-lition mobile), Griswold-style, and off we went to the meeting point somewhere in the heart of South Carolina. Early conversation went as follows:
Mutiny: So where are we launching from?
Everyone else: Hmmm…somewhere near Columbia.
Mutiny: Wait, you don’t know where?
Everyone else: St. Matthews is about 100 miles from Daniel Island based on this map, so we’re probably going from there.
Mutiny: Daniel Island? Don’t we need to go and register in Charleston for the race?
Everyone else: Eventually.
Mutiny: So I’m going for sub-40.
Everyone else: You hadn’t mentioned that.
Mutiny: …and how are we getting to the race in the morning?
Everyone else: No idea.
Mutiny: Wait, how are we getting back?
Everyone else: Somehow.
Mutiny: Seriously, I’m in the sub-40 corral for the race. How are we getting there in the morning?
Everyone else: We’ll figure it out.
*It’s important to note that at this point in the conversation, we just rinsed and repeated for about 60 minutes and Moniteur attempted to commit hari kari (just once)*
This, my friends, is what I’ve come to understand is #cyclistplanning. There is a particular beauty in its simplicity, laziness, spontaneity and single-mindedness. Are you going to ride? Yes. From where? Hmmm, somewhere around here. What time? Around 9. How far? Maybe 100. Cool, see you there. Given that we did know the distance, we did plan accordingly for fuel and water, but the rest was pretty well on-the-fly. And, as many of you know myself, Joey and Monotard…this is not terribly surprising. What was surprising was the number of stops we took on the way to St. Matthews to use the facilities…I believe it was 3. Aging bladders, the need for coffee and the urgency of zero all contributed heartily to this effort; and we’d really like to thank the young lady at McDonald’s for commending us on using their facilities without buying anything #hospitality. Stopping was a theme of this endeavour.
Upon arrival at some random Baptist church parking lot in St. Matthews, we watered their hedges and disembarked via bike, 6 strong with Nacho Libre and Old Salty leading the way. Little did we know that Strum had bribed the two of them to be our #domestiques (look it up) for the entire run-in to Daniel Island. You see, they are bike racers and they can do this all day – so they did #machines. We were in a double paceline the entire ride, but they never left the front – so massive thanks to them for their effort. And Darren picked up his nickname due to the actual salt accumulation on his kit during the ride. And because he’s old. And apparently ornery. Isaac just really likes nachos…seriously, we ate 2 meals on Friday after we got to Daniel Island and he orders nachos both times. With gleeful exuberance. He did look kind of huge on his bike.
Anyway, back to the ride…it featured about 104 miles (plus 2-3 more on Daniel Island) of generally flat riding. I think the total elevation change was about 300 feet over the entire distance…so that was pleasant. The wind, on the other hand, was not. Basically headwinds and crosswinds the entire way, sometimes brutal, and it seemed to get worse as we approached the coast (which makes sense). As with the drive to St. Matthews, we incorporated more than a few stops on the road to Daniel Island – about 6 in total (1 for lunch), attributable to aging bladders, refueling needs (food, water and #Lance crackers), generalized fear of War Daddy’s paceline “tactics” and to allow about 57 pissed off, backed up drivers to pass us (with about 5 miles to go) #sharetheroad. Note that none of our refueling stops included the consumption of certain “bites” concocted by Strummer the night before, which were sampled on the drive and almost resulted in us having to abandon the ride immediately due to poisoning #fermented. The ride itself was generally uneventful, except when Old Salty almost pushed Nacho into the path of an oncoming pick-up as we were crossing some railroad tracks. Like I said, he’s ornery. Other than that, and the perpetual game of “which way will War Daddy suddenly turn in his aerobars” and the frayed nerves related thereto, we avoided any real hairy situations on the road. With our crack planning and execution, we only got kind-of lost once in Eutawville #jewelofthelowcountry, causing a mildly splintered pack, followed by ill-advised turns at the front by myself and Monoturd and some even more ill-advised motorpacing for Nacho courtesy of Mutiny (2nd brush with death for the day #hedoesn’tknowwhathe’sdoing).
We arrived on the main drag in Daniel Island after a little over 5 hours in the saddle, and about 6 hours overall from St. Matthews. I was #3rd into the parking lot. Average speed for the group was just over 20 mph and we all picked up some nice #cyclingtans. I probably came the closest of the group to blowing up around mile 95, but the decision to allow our #angrydriver friends to pass our group probably saved me from a cramp-addled end to an otherwise awesome ride. After grabbing some refreshments at the local bar & grill #nachos, we headed back to the #Colelition-sponsored housing (#ballercondo) where we were greeted warmly by a woman on a balcony that apparently doesn’t like bikes, long hair or social interaction. The remainder of the evening consisted of race registration, more food, zero planning, more Mutiny anxiety (did I mention I’m trying to go sub-40?), nachos, beer, nachos, Belizian bike racing and a trip to Radio Shack that left Parker duly impressed by the quality of service in North Charleston.
To all except Mutiny, this part was merely just the avenue to get to downtown Charleston for many beers. This was clearly exhibited by the fact that we all pretty much registered 3 days before the race, after about 35,000 other people. Fast forward to actually arriving somewhat near the startline, which was about a mile away, within plenty of time for #Mr.Sub40 to get in his corral. The rest of us, on the other hand, would be waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting…you get the point. Our official start corral was I, though we tried to get into every single corral on the way back through the masses…Monotard came the closest to convincing some volunteer to let us into like C or D, but the #rulefollower got cold feet. Didn’t help us at all that Strum had #MStrum’s registration into corral C…but that did help him throwdown a solid time in the Women’s 45-49 age group #tootsie. Fast forward again til about 35 minutes after the actual race started, and we were still just moseying behind a sea of hand-holding, costumed miscreants…seriously, it was like the line to be in the live audience for the Halloween taping of Oprah. Anyway, I have no idea when we actually launched, or much else about the race itself, except (1) running up the bridge sucked, (2) Moniteur can only run one speed, and (3) the GONADS shirt I sported was pretty popular. “Oh, what…Go..Nads…what?!”…I think @Oprah herself said that one as Strummer passed her. Strum, Monoturd and I finished together (I was #3rd) and I have no idea when War Daddy started or finished, but I’m sure he probably ran faster than us #ageless.
On to the better part of Saturday, which was the #afterparty at Mynt, with a whole bunch of other Metro fools that made the trip down just to run #nobikesinsight. Many beers were drunk, Achtung’s birthday was celebrated and nobody could tell who was St. Paul or Minneapolis. And Mutiny smelled like he wiped his ass with his shirt #truestory. Apparently a host of other Metro dudes were around, but they didn’t ride down, so they’re not important. After that, it was time to get on the wrong bus back to Mt. Pleasant so (1) Strum could get a full historical treatise on the Bridge Run from this dude dressed like a #Mummer from Anchorage (#phillyjoke), and (2) the driver could drop us off somewhere not in Mt. Pleasant so we could walk a few miles back to our car #cyclistplanning. Thankfully, the #longhaired member of our sojourning party thumbed a .75 mile ride from a Prius-driving couple back to the car (I think they had all followed the Dead together a few years back) and came back to pick up myself and the Frenchman (of course, after the #FrenchDick started running again because he was tired of walking). The ride back to St. Matthews, and Charlotte, from that point was uneventful and slightly less talkative, given that bunny decided to give Mutiny a ride back to Charlotte #onesidedconversation.
So that was about that. For the first official Gears #CSAUP, this was pretty awesome. 107-ish miles on two wheels, 6.2 on foot, morning drinking, copious odd conversation, plush accomodations, perfect weather and no injuries. We can’t promise all this for the next endeavour, but we can promise that it won’t be planned very well (with minimal advance notice), that we’ll ride our bikes a long way and that we’ll probably drink a fair bit of beer. What more do you need?
Tclaps again to Nacho and OS, as well as Strum, who threw this thing together with some honeycomb, hair ties and recycled Teva straps. It was a heck of a trip…until next time…