Yesterday, June 9th was the annual Collin County Classic bicycle ride. This ride had been on my to do list for quite a while and I was really looking forward to it.
Since the ride starts just on the other side of town I figured I'd add in some bonus miles by riding to and from the start. I'd already signed up for the long ride, 62 miles, and with my bonus miles I would end up right about 75 miles. I figured if I was that close to a century, (100 miles) I may as well add in a few more and knock out another century.
The ride was extremely well set up and organized. There was a ton of volunteers at the start helping everyone get parked, registered and where they needed to be, lots of support from the local shops; Cadence Cyclery and Plano Bike and Fitness, and most importantly, lots of port-a-johns, (I knew I should not have had that cup of coffee!). I was there early enough that I got the chance to ride around the parking lot talking to people, ran across several folks from the local recumbent community, talked to a fellow Red Rider, (diabetic), and met a really inspiring guy who had lost a leg to an accident riding a carbon hand cycle.
The start of the ride was the usual mass chaos with the announcer trying to outshout the deafening music, riders all jockeying for space to ride in and everyone trying to funnel through the starting line. Fortunately I didn't see anyone go down and get trampled by the thundering herd.
The first part of the ride took us through McKinney. McKinney's finest were out in force at all the intersections to guide us through traffic. They did an outstanding job and were very much appreciated. In fact the entire ride had either police or sheriff presence at all intersections to make sure things were running smoothly. All I can say to the law enforcement officers who helped out is great gob and a big thank you! Their efforts were very much appreciated.
By the time I got to SAG #1, the morning coffee I drank was making it known that I needed to either find a tree to water or find another port-a-john. Fortunately all the SAG stops were well stocked with portables. While at the SAG I ran into a guy I'd been talking with a bit on the first part of the ride, he came over, pointed to my jersey, (Marine Corps jersey) and said thank you. Turns out he was Navy, even more, turns out he was a Navy Corpsman who served with Fleet Marine Force patching up wounded Marines. I ended up shaking his hand and giving him a very well deserved Thank You! I grabbed a cookie and was off down the road.
I was making some really nice time on the ride by staying with the main fast group as we rolled up the roads north east of McKinney. It was fun just sitting in and rolling along 22-24 mph for mile after mile. After SAG #3, where I grabbed some more water and a bag of Chex Mix for the salt, the groups started breaking up and I started riding from small group to small group. I had a lot of fun talking with folks along the route and enjoying the day. As is normal on a large ride like this a lot of people were asking about my recumbent so lots of questions were answered. Got more questions about my tail light, (Dinotte 140L), one of the brightest out there, and about the GoPro camera I was running. I had lots of fun answering the questions and talking bike gear with people.
By mile 40-45, my legs were starting to get a bit tight and starting to act like they were going to cramp up on me. I hit the next sag stop in search of pickles. Pickles work magic on me by preventing leg cramps. I'm not sure how or why it works, it just does. Last April, I'd done the Muenster Metric ride by eating pickles at every SAG. Sadly, the Collin County Classic had no pickles. With no pickles to be had, I hit the bananas and the Hammer Nutrition Enduralites figuring that should work. Nope, God had other plans.
Of course this was also the area where the nastiest hill of the ride was, it's been nicknamed Alpe d' Wheeze..
On down the road I went with the legs getting progressively worse. I started pushing more water and Gatoraid, took a couple more Enduralites and prayed for the best. God answered those prayers by saying, "Hey stop that stupid crap" in ever louder and louder ways. I limped into the finish line in hopes of grabbing some Dickey's BBQ for lunch cause I knew they would have the holy grail of leg cramp relief, PICKLES! I didn't plan on a line 200 people deep moving at a snails pace however. No joy on lunch, and no joy on pickles. More Enduralites, more water, and pedaled my way towards home.
I hit a stoplight #1 and cramped hard, stoplight #2 and cramped even harder, (it's really fun by the way riding up a nasty hill while one leg is cramping). I was almost home and hit a stop sign that I had to stop at, (right thing to do but a big mistake). God had enough of my not listening to what he was telling me and figured enough was enough. Both legs lit off and the entire left side of my body cramped, (that was a first). Everything from my jawline down to my ankle was cramping. It kind of felt like I'd been hit by a couple of thousand volts of electricity. It was all I could do to ride 10' to a parking lot, stop without falling off the bike and screaming like a little girl. After a bit of terrifying some folks out walking by howling, gnawing on my handlebar tape, stretching, more howling, I called Vicky for a pickup as I was DONE.
I think for next years Collin County Classic, I'll contact the organizers well before the event. My cunning plan is to donate a case or three of pickles for the ride.
74 miles a change, so close but yet so far, all for the want of some pickles.