It started on a cool Saturday morning. I'd asked off for the 22nd and 23rd a month ago and was given the rare gift of an entire weekend off from the shop. I prepared the night before. Four shirts, a sweater and a hoodie, two pairs of pants, one pair of squid shorts, three pair of gloves (warm, cool, and damn cold), and 10 GU gel packs.
The rules were simple: 11.5 mile loop through downtown and some surrounding neighborhoods. Teams of 4-6. Three checkpoints (locked newspaper dispensers full of tickets). Pass the key to the next rider when you check in. Team with the most laps after 24 hrs wins.
Easy. Except that the route traveled down the most heavily congested road in Atlanta on Saturday night. Down Peachtree Rd. passed all the most popular clubs and cruising spots before heading into some quieter neighborhoods to go up two hills that most riders here go out of their way to avoid.
So I showed up on Saturday with two people on my team. And I was on my own for 7 hours until my teammate Josh showed up after work. I was cool. I could do this. Just ride until I can't ride anymore, sleep, and ride some more. I ended up getting two more teammates, Robert, whose team had dissolved and another friend, Sam, who was staffing the repair station but ran some laps for us.
The race started with a parade lap so everyone could see the course. When we got back to the start/finish (a hipster bar that graciously let us take over their parking lot and allwed us to sleep inside that night) the first riders took off with little fanfare. I rose with the first group of five for the first lap. Everything was great. We were pacing each other and staying together to maximize energy conservation. I was ready to ride a few laps until I felt my cog slip. I had just installed new 16 and 18 tooth cogs to give me a good range of gears. I had to sit out the second lap and send my new partner out. After retightening my cog (I was able to screw off the lockring by hand. horray for no red lights on the second half of the course) I realized that I still had the key in my pocket. So I took off to try to cut my partner off on the other side of the course. I caught him at the corner of Piedmont and 10th and excecuted the most glorious transfer as he flew passed at full speed. After sprinting back to the bar and trying to rest a bit I took off on two more laps.
We traded off like this until 7:30 when my friend Josh showed up and rode five laps so we could get some sleep. After 55 miles at 15 mph through building traffic he went home to sleep, with a promise that he would be back to ride the next morning before he went to work, I set out for five laps between 11:30p and 4:30a. Peachtree had become a parking lot and every lap had 4 miles of riding the white line between two lanes of drunk, club-hopping traffic. When I got back I crashed. I didn't care if I got up again. I had done my 10 laps, 115 miles, my first fixed century. I found a spot on the floor and curled up with my hood pulled over my eyes and my sweater wrapped around my numb feet. At some point I was moved to one end of a couch and someone took up the other end and kept my feet warm.
I was woken up by my partner at around 7:30a. I was feeling great. Ready to do another few laps. Josh had run two more before going in to work and we had 4 hours to get as many laps as possible. We ended up getting four more. I ran one and was about to get another but I couldn't find my helmet and bag so someone else took it.
So I ended up with 11 laps. 126.5 miles fixed (The next highest was 8 laps), some damn sore knees, and some tickets to improv comedy for having the most individual laps. As a team we came in 5th out of 13. We had 26 laps total. The winners (a team of messengers) had 31 laps and an average lap time of 41 minutes. Someone had a 34 minute lap. I was just happy to keep most of mine under an hour. The squid cycling team from Georgia Tech came in 3rd, beaten by two teams of goats.
So I'm gonna do it again next year, maybe as a solo. Josh and I are thinking of doing a two person team, riding in 6 hr intervals. My new goal is 200 miles.
the Lamb Sandwich