Today I rode the Tour de Bass Springbike ride as part of Bass Pro Shops’ Outdoor Fitness Festival.
The morning started out kind of rough, as I had a flat tire before I even got the bike loaded. I was pumping up my tires, when the rear tire’s valve stem just kind of exploded. After much snarling and being aggravated, I got down to business and had it a new tube in in just a couple of minutes.
The morning started kind of cold. It was 38 degrees when I left the house, so I pretty much took all the warm stuff I own. When I got there, I was amazed to see that some of the folks wandering around looked really underdressed to me. I wonder how cold they really were because that wind on my face was darn cold.
Waiting for the starting gun.
They were advertising 350 entrants, but I think it was probably closer to 200 because of the weather. Nonetheless, it was a pretty impressive pelaton as we would through the streets of Springfield on our way to the first rest stop at Mentor. The speed was pretty fast, with only a few riders being dropped or caught by traffic. We crossed the river at Kinser Bridge, just about a mile and half from home. Dropping down into the river bottom was georgous, with the sun coming up over the ride and fog in the bottoms. I would have liked to stop for a picture, but was in enough traffic that I didn’t feel safe doing so, so I just kept riding.
At the first rest stop, I saw that Brad Huff was riding with the St. John’s semi-pro cycling team. Brad is a Fair Grove native who’s had some success in pro cycling. He rides for Jelly Belly. Those guys were the first ones there, and subsequently the first to leave, and I never saw them again.
Mentor Rest Stop
It was so chilly that lots of folks seemed to want to hang around in the tent and drink the hot coffee provided. I didn’t have any coffee, but they did have warm water that hit the spot.
Joe Johnson being silly. Joe and Sue were one of three tandems I saw.
From Mentor, we headed south toward Ozark, crossing Highway 65 at CC. It was very interesting that after I left the first rest stop, I really didn’t feel like I was riding in a crowd the rest of the day. There were about three of us yo-yoing back and forth as we made our way down through the northern edge of Ozark and then east to Nixa for the 2nd rest stop. At that point, I was dripping pretty badly, so I took my vest off and carried it in my pocket.
At the 2nd rest stop, I ran into Dave Nelson. He works at CU out at our Southwest Power Station. Then as I was leaving, Susie Turner rode in. She and I work very closely together in IT at CU.
Dave Nelson - I think he only started riding this summer and he commutes to work.
Leaving the Nixa rest stop, we meandered kind of Northwest toward Republic, having another pretty good climb as we crossed the river bottom again south of Battlefield. Dave and the guys he was riding with left ahead of me, but I caught them at the top of the climb and rode the rest of the way to Republic with them.
Republic rest stop
Susie pulling into Republic
Leaving Republic alone, I enjoyed a really peaceful ride through Brookline north to Elwood. This 10ish mile stretch was the last I would ride before I had to make a decision between taking the 70-mile cutoff and going for the century, so I was happy to just cruise along on the quite country roads. I caught and passed a couple on a tandem, then three other riders as I crossed I-44, but those were the only others I saw. I presumed I was getting kind of close to the front of the pack, and when I pulled into Elwood, I found that I was at least in the upper 20%.
Lunch was good as well as plentiful, and I lingered a few minutes trying to make up my mind which route to take. I felt really good at that point, but lunch was only 52 miles in, so if I took the century, I would only be a little over half-way home. After an extra cookie, I finally decided to go for it!
I noted my time, and at 52 miles, I had ridden 3:19, so I doubted I would be able to get done in under 6 hours, which has been one of my long standing goals. Most of the centuries I’ve ridden have been either with Pam or Sam Brown, so I’ve never really had the chance to go for a sub 6 hour century.
It wasn’t long before I decided that sub-6 hours was probably a pipe dream today. As I headed out of Elwood toward Willard, there were quite a few pretty decent hills, and I was riding a little cautiously, not wanting to burn myself out too soon. The last time I rode over 50 miles was on our August trip to Michigan, so I knew that 100 would be a stretch.
After lunch, I was basically riding by myself most of the time. I later calculated that maybe 40 people had taken the century. There were about 15 ahead of me, and another 25 behind me, so it was pretty solitary riding for most of the time.
The Willard rest stop was sponsored by the Tower Club here in town, and had some most excellent pumpkin truffles! I could have stuffed several in my face, but didn’t want to look like a pig, and I was really still kind of stuffed from lunch. From Willard, the route took us over some more significant hills, as we had to cross through the Little Sac river valley. The road was great, though, and the wind was at my back, so it was a pleasant ride. On top of that, it was starting to warm up enough that was really staring to sweat!
At the Pleasant View rest stop, I changed my jacket out for my vest, and headed back out on the road. At this point, I was beginning to feel like I was getting tired, and I knew that there were about 30 miles left to ride, so I just kind of put my head down and kept pedaling toward Strafford.
The route took an occasional southward turn, and those stretches were more into the wind than any others during the day, so my pace dropped a little bit as I told myself that there wasn’t anything I could do about it other than lower my expectations. That helped, and it wasn’t too long before I pulled into the Strafford rest stop.
As I left, I realized that I was really getting tired, and there was at least 15 more miles to ride, and much of it seemed to be against the wind. The good thing is that I’m very familiar with those roads, and thought I had the route in my head as we continued on. At about 91 miles, imagine my disgust when the route turned back to the east and headed directly into the hills! I forgot about the last rest stop, which was out at Sunshine Valley Farm down in the James River Valley on Highway 125. At that point, I realized that we would end up with over 100 miles, and that once I left that final rest stop, it would be nearly uphill nearly all the way back to town!
I hit the 6 hour mark just as I pulled into that last rest stop at 95 miles, so I figured my century time would end up being about 6:15, but I forgot to check it at the 100 mile mark.
I met up with a guy named Bill as we were pulling into the rest stop, and he was grumbling about the hills even more than I was! We left the rest stop together and I think the company helped me deal with my fatigue the rest of the way in, even though those hills were killers at that point. As I came up the very last hill on Catalpa before things got flat in town, I got a pretty nasty cramp in my right leg, but it stretched out and I was able to finish the ride without any further difficulty.
I hit Bass Pro’s parking lot at 4:00, with 107 miles on the Garmin, and a total riding time of 6:43.
Here’s the GPS track.
I did it!