Alright, this is what I get for starting with old people but @tunavic and I were originally slated to start at 7 am with the rest of the leisure suited palm springs crowd. I guess he collected the wrist bands for his club, so since he was handing them out at 6 am he decided we needed to start at 6:30 with the "fast" and "experienced" teams instead. C'mon man.
So @ahultin - we looked all over for you but didn't see you! And frankly, I can't read my phone without reading glasses anymore so I didn't text either. I hope you and Sebastian had a great day on the bike.
@Beachgrad05 rode with Team Unlikely Cyclist and man, there were tons of them on the route! We saw most of them, I reckon, including the skateboard helmet wearing boyfriend of one of them. The kit looks sharp! And recognizable.
OK for the ride. I really, really, really wanted to beat my time from last year, which was 6:12:13. As it turns out, I stopped the clock at 6:12:49. The only explanation I have is two fold - 1. The wind this year was HARSH! Last year was pretty windy, this year was hey, where's Dorothy's house. Reason 2 is @jsigone wasn't there to provide a chase rabbit for the home stretch. The route was slightly different this year too, which may or may not have had an effect.
For the most part, it was a beautiful day. Temps were a nice 50 degrees or so at the start, so vest and arm warmers were all I needed. Once you get past the initial windy section and over the "climb" there's a very long tail-wind aided descent down to indio, interrupted by a couple of not particularly difficult climbs. Needless to say, physics wins, and the people we flew past on the descents passed us right back on the climbs.
Once we got past lunch at about 52 miles, we had a predominant head-wind for the ride back to the start. Our sneaky plan was to ride at a decent pace and when we were passed by a good sized group, we'd latch on to the back and hold on for dear life. For the most part, it worked out really well - with 11,000 riders on the course, there was always somebody faster and stronger available to leech off of.
I have two interesting experiences today, well 3.
1) No cramps at all, not even a hint, although my inner thighs were really in pain after the windy/hilly part. Not sure why.
2) The saddle that I like, but only for < 80 miles, was awesome for all 102 miles. My new one is arriving on Tuesday anyway.
3) riding fast in groups is a blast. We probably averaged 22 mph or so on the return trip when in groups. Outside a group? 17-18. Big difference. I think Vic got spat off the back once or twice, which underscores the benefit of the wind break from the riders in front. Once you lose it it's really hard to get back. Both of us got spat off when we hit a "hill" later in the day... that physics things again.
Overall a great day in the saddle and I knocked out my 100 miles for Feb all in one day, hit my 75 mile weekly cycling goal before lunch and hit that strava gran fondo challenge all in one.