PAlt rode well and finished about 7-8 mins ahead of me. I saw him at a rest stop at the 87 mile mark and he is riding so well he just motored on away up the Blue Ridge Parkway. Neither one of us had times we were hoping for but considering everything it was very respectable 7+ hours.
Weather was incredibly perfect-temps were in the 50's-60's with bright sunny skies-quite a contrast from the 100 degree temps and no breeze from last year. They were calling for some stiff winds for today but after Marion or about 75 miles it was pretty much a nonissue.
I was in the lead group not long after the start-and it was a huge pack. One of those deals with folks 3-4 across in a lane. Not sure if someone overlapped wheels or water bottles dancing around on the pavement-but just 4-5 miles into the ride folks to my right and just in front of me starting yelling. Next thing I know riders and bikes are falling over from right to the left. I was pinned against a concrete median and did not have an out. There were 3-4 riders and bikes down directly in front of me and riders jammed up against my right so I TRIED to ride over the bikes because I could not get stopped.........that didn't work and I became part of the pile and fell on the bikes and the median. Fortunately no serious injuries on my end so I jumped back on the bike and chased back to the lead group.
About 30 miles later I heard a loud sprong noise........you know the sound when a rear spoke breaks......
I had hoped I had just run over some metal but a few miles later we were doing a climb and the guy behind me gave me the bad news of the terribly wobbly wheel........no wonder I was having trouble keeping up on the climb. I'm guessing the spoke was damaged when I fell. Fortunately there was a mechanic at the top of the climb and he took out the broken spoke and trued it up best he could. He didn't have any spokes so after about 10 mins I jumped back on and took off.
After the spoke issue I had planned to stop at the 75 mile mark so as to not push the wheel any more than I needed to.......but it was such a nice day and I was feeling pretty good so I just keep riding and managed finish the darn thing.
My wife was supposed to meet my brother and me at the 87 mile mark with our favorite beverages for riding........but she wasn't there. The combination of all those events just took all the wind out of my sails. It was such a gorgeous day, I took it really easy the last 16 miles (14 of which are uphill) and enjoyed the terrific views riding up the Parkway and the climb to Mitchell-I made it a point to take in some views I've missed when I've had my head down trying to ride for time.
I was able to improve my spirits and actually enjoyed the day overall. Contrary to last week-I didn't have the first cramp either. They even gave me another little patch at the end I can add to my collection.
I've done this ride enough now. I most likely will not do it again. I kind of like stopping while I have all the terrific scenary etched in my brain.
My wife took lots of photos after catchin up with us on the Parkway and even some video. Will see about getting that uploaded.