I had a great ride, but only saw one person I know - an electrical engineer I used to work with, who's part of Team Nebo Ridge, the motor that propelled the fastest of the pacelines. I can't post any pics right now as Photobucket seems to be down. But here are my general impressions:
The weather looked iffy at first. A major thunderstorm blew through Indy about 1:15 that morning, and it left lingering rain right up until about 4:00, when it changed to intermittent sprinkles and some nasty looking clouds right up until start time. But once we began, I never felt another drop.
I had bumped my goal from 50 miles to riding my soon-to-be age, then again to a full metric, so I knew going in I needed to do 25 laps. It's funny how once your energy gets a little tapped, higher brain functions seem to abandon you - I had trouble calculating laps and distances in my head, all morning. I finally gave up and just watched the miles click by on the computer.
I managed to get into a couple of pace lines, at first one with only about 5 or 6 riders, and we took turns at the front. Someone in the group decided that a "turn" meant pulling for one entire 2.5-mile lap, a distance I've never led out before. From my old racing days I was used to pace line leaders pulling off after 40-60 turns of the crank. So I was a little concerned that I'd poop out before my lap was complete, but surprisingly I managed to keep it going over 20 MPH, even between turns 3 and 4 where we had the worst of the headwind, at least early on. When I finished that pull at the front, it just happened to be time for the first of my two PBJ breaks in pit lane (one at 25 miles, the second at 50), so that was a bit of a relief. Altogether I was in that pace line for about 6 or 7 laps.
During my second ride segment (25-50 miles) I managed to get on a considerably larger group that was going a little faster still, one that was big enough that there wasn't any organized sharing of the lead. Which was fine by me - I was happy to sit in near the back and stay there, though it was a little nerve-racking. Most of that time I was behind a teenager on a twitchy TT bike, on which he thought the thing to do was practice riding no-hands. Turns out there were at least 3 crashes I was aware of over the course of the day, though I never saw the actual event - only the ambulances and broken bikes. Late in the morning I almost hit a kid who swerved right in front of me as I was passing him.
The big freight train - the Team Nebo Ridge group and their hangers-on - were a thing to see. All morning long there were shouts of warning as they approached along the wall, and it seemed no matter how fast I was going, they'd pass in a great whoosh of carbon, alloy and air. Once or twice I thought it would be interesting to see if I could hang onto their tail, but it didn't take long before I realized there wasn't enough energy in my legs to even try.
It wasn't nearly the psychological slog I thought it would be. I expected it to be interesting for 3 or 4 laps, then be a chore. It wasn't, at least not for me, until I had about 3 laps to go. Most of that I credit to being in pacelines for about 12 of my 25 laps.
The track is not that wide. No more than maybe 4 lanes of a multi-lane road or highway. Spooky to imagine driving 225 MPH with 32 other cars in that confined a space.
The track is not smooth. Don't get me wrong, it's nice and relatively free of bumps and artifacts, but the surface isn't smooth - it's grooved, and has enough texture that you feel it, to the point where it even soaks up a tiny little bit of your energy.
When the track warms up a little with the rising sun, it begins to smell faintly of tires.
The announcer said we had 1800 people there, representing 6 states. All kinds and shapes of riders, on all kinds and shapes of bikes. I'm surprised there weren't more accidents. One guy who lined up a couple of rows in front of me at the start was a good example of an accident waiting to happen. He was bouncing his bike up and down on the pavement, wondering why he was getting a rattling sound from the rear end when he did it. Someone near him pointed out that his quick release wasn't closed. So he tries to close it but can't because it's already just a little too tight. But instead of loosening it a quarter turn, which was all I'm sure it needed, he starts kicking it! I had to turn away and stop looking at that point. I don't know if he finally got it figured out or not.
I'll put up a few pics when I can get access to them.
Oh, and for the statistically interested, I had 63.5 miles at 3:40:49, for an average of 17.25 MPH. Total time start to finish was just about 4 hours even.