So I did my first Tour de Cure ride today from Portsmouth, NH, and man was it rough. I chose the 75 mile ride. The forecast called for rain and temps in the 40s (F), and boy did it deliver. The ride started just a tad late - around 7:15 AM - and the rain was very light. I was wearing a waterproof jacket I picked up the day before and some water resistant cycling pants over a pair of bibs + leg warmers. For my hands I had full finger gloves (not waterproof) and for defeet I had some smartwool socks and toe covers over the shoes.
For the first ten miles or so I thought, "I can do this - this isn't so bad" and was helped along with a nice tailwind heading south on the NH seacoast. However, the rain picked up quickly, and by the 20 mile mark I was pretty soaked over most of my body. From then on it was staying warm that was critical, and that was a struggle. Miles 30-40 were the worst in terms of rain, as it came down heavily and my glasses became perpetually fogged so I had to put them away. This made it very difficult to take advantage of the descents, because I couldn't see well at all with the rain pelting me at higher speeds. I wished I had a visor or cycling cap under my helmet to help with this.
For a while I rode and chatted with a woman who was also doing the 75 mile ride, but was getting chilled. She was wearing non-waterproof cycling tights and confessed that she was miserable and considering switching to the 50 mile ride instead. I believe a number of riders ended up doing this, and the thought crossed my mind on numerous occasions when the rain picked up. I told myself that as long as I stayed reasonably warm I was going to stick with the 75 miler.
When she broke off the route, I found myself riding alone for nearly the rest of the entire ride. I managed to get lost a couple of times and padded on a few extra miles to my trip, but the good news is after about 50 miles the rain scaled back quite a bit and even offered a reprieve here and there. There were some moderate climbs in the 50-60 mile range that seemed unusually difficult for me. In retrospect I think the soaked clothing weighed me down more than I had anticipated.
I "used up all my matches" on those climbs and was in bad shape for the coastal ride back. Remember the "nice tailwind" I mentioned above? Well now I was heading North, and it became a headwind. I have no idea how fast it was, but I struggled not to go into my granny gear just to be able to ride on perfectly flat road. Struggle turned into submission when eventually I gave in and was barely able to maintain 10 MPH. I was getting tired and this was the most demoralizing part of the ride.
After what seemed like forever, I finally turned inland and realized how bad that headwind was. Still, I was slowing down and my average speed continued to drop. At the final rest stop I asked someone what time it was and they said 2pm. What??? This ride was taking forever!
It turns out I finished the ride just *three minutes* faster (ride time) than I did my first century in last September. I ended with 82.9 miles in 6:32:11 (ride time) for a whopping average speed of 12.6 MPH. I assumed I was one of the last people to finish the 75-mile ride but in fact there were still a lot of riders out there.
Although this is the kind of ride I'd rather not repeat (in terms of the weather), I am glad I stuck through it and finished the full route I had set out to.
I also got to briefly meet blonduathlongrl from BF, which was nice. She rode with her Zipps today, but I didn't see an aerobar on her bike.