29 May, 2012

The Not so Gran Fondo

Just as a follow-up to the Tour de Frankemuth report, a short recap of Sundays Gran Fondo.

There were several options for distances when I signed up, something like 25, 65 and 130 miles.  I chose the 65, as a metric century would be a good recovery ride, and get some hours in for training.

When I awoke Sunday, it had just started raining, with the faint rumble of thunder in the distance.  I slowly ate breakfast, and kept waiting for the rain to break.

8 O'clock came, the time for the mass start, and the rain was coming down harder yet.  I went back to the hotel room to check Facebook to see what the people were doing.  Apparently the result was "wait".
Around 9 the rain stopped, although there was another storm entering the state from the NW.  It was pretty much over Travers city when we took off.

From the 120 preregistered riders, and the anticipated 150 day-of registrants, we had about 30 riders at the start.  A group of around 7 of us took off together, working at around a 22 MPH pace.  There was some sprinkles, but it was OK for the most part.  One rider rode off the front, and so did the guy in the enclosed recumbent thing.

About 6 of us hit the first rest stop, about 20 miles in.  One guy had a loose crank so we stopped in order to stay together.  After talking with the volunteers we found out that with the lack of numbers, each rider could get something like 2 apples, 4 bananas, a dozen cookies and over 2' of sub.  I wasn't that hungry.

In the distance behind us, you could see the dark clouds rolling in.  Three of us thought we could stay ahead of the storm for the 8 miles to the next station, which would also be the turn around point.  As we headed out, a fierce wind came from the north, and the storm flanked us.  The group of three were leaning hard to the left to stay upright, as the cloudy light turned night black.  We continued to ride when the heavens opened up and began dumping rain in buckets.

Just then a van stopped, it was the organizer who informed us he was "calling it" and we should head back.  His van was full, but he would come back for us shortly and we should head back to the previous station.   We got around a half mile down the road when the sleet/hail started.  At first I thought it was hard rain, then I felt the welts begin to form on my lips and face.  We pulled off and to shelter in a ditch.  We could barely see the road through the downpour.  As we sat shivering in the ditch, the lightning began, and we all reconsidered the decisions we made.  A state trooper drove by and slowed, but never stopped, never asked if we were OK or needed help.  We figured he didn't want to get wet, and he would come back later, as it would be the same amount of paperwork.

Finally the storm let up a bit, and we got back on the bikes and went another 1/2 mile to a self-storage place and stood under an awning waiting for sag to pick us up.  I think it was another 10 minutes or so.  The lot had a couple cars parked there waiting out the rain.  One guy in a truck notified us of a sever storm warning in effect.  Thanks.

Finally, we got a ride back to town.  I shivered my way back to the hotel and immediately into the hot tub.   Once warm, I called it a weekend and loaded up the truck to head home.  As I lifted my bike, I heard a slosh.  I removed my seat post and drained ~20 oz. of water out of my seat tube.  That can't be good.  We'll see how it works tonight.

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