Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2011 Hospitality Highway Century - Ride Report

On Sunday, July 10th I rode in the 3rd annual Hospitality Highway Century to benefit the Georgia Transplant Foundation.  This was my first century in over 20 years.  Knowing that I'd have to get out of the house early I packed my bike and gear in my truck on Saturday night.  I got up at 4am and was out of the house at 4:35am.  The drive to Roswell took me around 50 minutes.  My GPS worked flawlessly (unlike during my trip to the PRR Expo).  I was parked in the old CompUSA lot and at registration by 5:30am.  It was still very dark.  The Home Depot lot next door was already full.  I picked up my wrist band (red for 100 milers), my blue Zorrel technical shirt, and a package of flyers with sponsor information.  The shirt is a very nice shirt and I can actually see myself wearing it.  That's not always the case with ride/race shirts.

2011 Hospitality Highway Century technical shirt
Chip and Richard were already parked and getting ready when I arrived.  I caught up with Chip near the port-a-johns.  Even in the dark I couldn't miss him with those big ears sticking out from that melon head.  They met me at my truck before we rode over to the starting point.

Chip and Richard ready to launch
Chip, Richard and I
A fraction of the group of riders lined up waiting to start
The ride started at 6:30am.  One of the volunteers said there were 1000 riders.  It sure seemed like it.  All the lanes of southbound GA-400 were full of riders.  Tri-bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes and a few recumbent all headed south.  The first few miles of the ride were like a rolling trip to the bike shop showroom.  There were bikes made by Moots, Jamis, Pinarello, Quintana Roo, Trek, Specialized, Kestrel, Cannondale, Wilier, and many others. 

The weather was perfect for a summer ride.  The temperature was cooler than it has been lately and it was slightly overcast.  As the three of us descended the on ramp I told Chip we needed to get closer to the front of the pack.  That was the last I'd see of Chip and Richard until the water station at mile 48 (for them).  Think they were ahead of me, Chip said that he and Ricard waited 10 minutes for me at the two previous water stations.  I don't know what good that did since I must have been in front of them the whole time.  I had taken a wrong turn and was looking at 54 miles on my odometer.  We bantered back and forth about who was in front of who for a few minutes then hit the road again. 

The course for the 100 mile ride was marked with red painted arrows on the road and white signs.  It was a beautiful course that really highlights the area's communities and equestrian lifestyle.  Much of the course went through subdivisions with beautiful homes and nicely landscaped yards.

The route took us through downtown Roswell.  Roswell has a little downtown with nicely landscaped businesses and well maintained shops and restaurants.  I couldn't help but notice the lack of billboards, trash, and bandit signs along the roadside.  We did have two mishaps during the ride.  Richard put an end to a nervous little chipmunk and Chip almost let a squirrel get away.  I killed at least two bugs. 

Somewhere after the water station at the 90 mile point I took my second wrong turn during the day.  This time I had company.  Chip, Richard, two other riders, and I added about 9 miles here.  This put my total mileage ridden at 115 in 6:26:36 with an average speed of 17.8mph.  The added miles gave me the opportunity to ride some of the hills twice.  I didn't need that.  It was a hilly course.

The location of my first wrong turn was at the intersection of Gaddis Road and Arbor Hill Road.  I took a left instead of a right adding an extra 5.8 miles loop and a second trip through the Woodmont subdivision.

I guess it wouldn't be a century if I didn't take a few wrong turns.  The extra mileage was a bonus since I've got to ride 112 miles in November anyway.  I have to point out that the organizers did a great job of keeping the riders up to date with information prior to the ride.  I received several e-mails prior to the ride and course maps were available on ride day.  Next time I think I'll grab one of those.

The water stations were well stocked with oranges, some cut into eighths and others peeled and sectioned, bananas, gel, cookies, energy bars, Gatorade, and ice water.  They were also well supported with friendly volunteers.  I even got to meet Eric.  He designed the course.  He was at the water station at mile 80.  That's when he told us we hadn't seen anything yet.  He said there was a really big hill just before the finish.  I wanted to beat him up (while I could still walk) but Chip and Richard didn't seem to think it was a good idea.

The water station at the the 35 mile point on Holcomb Campground Road
The Citgo Gas Station water station at the 65 mile point on Lower Union Hill Road
The water station at the 80 mile point at the Fire Station at New Providence Road and Arnold Mill Road
We also stopped at the water station at the 92 mile point on Jones Road.  This was shortly before the location of my second wrong turn was at the corner of Willeo Road and Azalea Drive.  I should have taken a left onto Azalea Drive instead of going straight all the way to Johnson Ferry Road.  This time I didn't go it alone.  I brought along five other riders with me.  Sorry guys!

We finally reached the end of our ride.  I went straight to the registration area where the volunteers had set up trays of hot pasta, bagels, energy gels, water, etc.  I had two helpings of pasta. 

I got to my truck and rinsed off with a jug of water I had brought from home.  That's the ticket.  Why travel home all sweaty when you don't have to?  When I got home I tried to open a bottle of beer to celebrate my accomplishment.  Even though it was a screw top I didn't have the energy to get it open with my hand so I used an opener.

Another thing not worth mentioning, but I'll do it anyway, is that I successfully completed my first snot rocket.  If you don't know what a snot rocket is, don't ask.  I always thought they were gross and couldn't bring myself to do it but an hour into my day long ride I figured it was as good a time as any and gave it a try.  Later on I told Richard about my accomplishment.  He asked if I got any on anyone.  I had to be honest and told him I did get a bit on myself.  Richard gave me partial credit.  Two things instantly came to mind 1) Great, room for improvement, and 2) Where does this fit into my training plan?

Overall, a great ride on a great day in a great area!

Thanks for reading my silly blog.