We’ve got a new design this week and we hope you love it as much as we do. We couldn’t decide whether to call it “Freedom Rider” or “Ride in Peace” so we’re offering both titles emblazoned above the peace symbol, as well as a the stars-and-stripes peace symbol without text at the Strackacobra store.
This past weekend we were reminded what a strange animal road racing is when we rode in the 100K class at the Katie Ride for Life charity event at Fernandina Beach, Florida. Okay, it wasn’t a race, but you know how it goes at these charity rides, all the racers go to the front and try to kill each other with the pace.
We had a 7 a.m. start, it was beautiful weather and it warmed up into beautiful temperatures. You couldn’t ask for a prettier course, either, riding through the Amelia Island Plantation and then along the ocean through Big and Little Talbot State Parks, with Mayport Naval Station and the big navy ships just across the inlet.
The wind was a different story. Coming onshore off the ocean it was a force to be reckoned with and the shear made it difficult for the paceline to be of any use. With two road racers and two triatletes leading the paceline we were only doing 23 mph, which is pretty slow for a paceline full of racers. Had we been able to ride en echelon it would have made a difference, but it wasn’t possible with the traffic on A1A.
As mountain riders we forget how different it is riding in a paceline. On a mountain course you’re constantly off the saddle, using your upper body all the time, and always pacing yourself for the inevitable over-threshold charges in small gears past other riders and up steep hills. In the paceline it’s all about consistency, finding a groove, conserving energy, and being able to generate huge power in big gears to match the surges in speed as the line of riders yo-yos along.
We met our match this ride. About 24 miles in we hit a bridge with a slight rise and were completely exposed to the wind. The lead riders hit the gas, jumping the speed to over thirty miles an hour, the fastest speed all day. As mountain riders we almost never ride in the drops and it left us at a distinct disadvantage. The roadies fell into the drops, the triathletes stayed aero, we stayed on the hoods, everybody was hammering and a gap started to open. First a foot, then three feet, then two bike lengths, and it was over. We tried to compensate by dropping the gear and revving up the RPMs but it wasn’t enough. Ten miles later at the halfway point of the ride we pulled in for a water stop and rejoined the original paceline, but about two to three minutes after they arrived. Thank goodness the hammerheads were taking the 100 mile option, and we were just doing the 100 K!
But it works the other way as well. How many times have you been sitting around after a mountain race when the roadies come in looking like they’d been beaten with a bag of oranges? Cycling jerseys zipped wide open, hair dripping with sweat, they have that shell shocked look on their face trying to figure out how they barely breathe riding fifty miles on a road bike but can barely survive half that distance on singletrack.
The wind was even less favorable coming back, but we set an easier pace without the hammerheads, spinning north up the ocean highway with some local riders from Fernandina. We came in just a few seconds over three hours for the metric century.
Afterwards we were treated to an excellent lunch, complete with pirates (they like pirates in Fernandina). The one rest area we stopped at was well stocked with food, snacks, and gels. The pre-race organization was good, the facilities at start/finish were nice and parking was easy. They also offered shorter road rides, a short MTB ride in a nearby state park, and a 5K walk. We even got to pimp the Strackacobra mountain bike clothing line a little after. It was an excellent experience and we look forward to doing it next year.