Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2012 Savannah Century

Members of the Southern Crescent Cycling club drove by caravan to the coast for the Savannah Century on Saturday, September 1st. Some members had left earlier in the week and were already there. In total the club had ten members riding the full 100 mile course. They were Ken Barbet, Jorge Collado, Junior Diaz, Mike Dozier, Greg Ferrie, Peto Fallas, Neil Farmer, Angel Reyes, Joel Simmons, Bill Strang, and Carlos Talbott. Joel and his family made for an additional half-dozen or so riders.

On the ride down we stopped at Grady’s Truck Stop & Grill in Metter, GA for a quick break.
Grady's Truck Stop and Grill
After that it was lunch at Toucan Café in Savannah. You’ll be a bit surprised by the signs to lock your car doors and secure your valuables but the restaurant was crowded and the food was good.
Toucan Cafe
After lunch we went to The Bicycle Link for packet pickup. The limited parking at the bike shop was full but they had plenty of volunteers so the process was hassle free. However, I would not leave my bike unattended or unsecured while I grabbed my ride packet.
The Bicycle Link
The caravan left the bike shop driving through a somewhat seedy part of town to reach its downtown Savannah destinations of the Hampton Inn and Suites and Doubletree Hotel. Our other club members were staying at the River Street Inn, and other hotels in the historic district.

Parking was valet only at the Hampton Inn, so unpacking (and later re-packing) was an exercise in the efficient use of the coveted luggage cart. The Doziers, Talbotts, and Farmers were on the same floor at the Hampton Inn. It should be noted that a hotel room at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and W Montgomery Avenue/GA-25 has a nice view of the street but is not the place to get a good night's sleep. The drag racing starts at around midnight and doesn’t end until after 3am. Poolside would be a better room location.
The view from the Hampton Inn and Suites
Carlos made reservations for Saturday evening for twenty at Bella’s Italian Café for a pre-ride pasta dinner. We ended up with a few more than that.  As most of us were carbo-loading at Bella's, the Simmons family was preparing for the Midnight Garden Ride.
The Simmons Family
Joel with "Poppa's Petelon"
Joel’s twelve year old grandson Dawson, and his youngest daughter and son-in-law completed the entire 100 mile course.

Sunday morning arrived with better than expected weather. The sky was completely clear and the temperature was in the low 70’s. After a quick breakfast the group suited and headed to the starting line at around 7:30am for the 8am start. Riders were already starting to gather at The Distillery.
Carlos, Peto, Neil and Mike in the hotel lobby on Sunday morning 
The Southern Crescent Cycling Crew
We took a few group pictures as we waited. The peleton rolled out right at 8am under police escort for the mile or so, than we were on our own. The petelon climbed the bridge over the Savannah River and raced down the other side reaching speeds close to 50mph, then it was on to the pothole filled section of the course. The drone of the constant refrain “Hole” wore out the group but within a few miles we were past that unwelcome section of the course. Traveling at a 25 mph pace the peleton stretched out on the back roads around Savannah. The wind, while present was not the factor it was the previous year.  However, as the sun rose in the sky, so did the heat and humidity also rise.  It took its toll.

The first member off the back of the peleton was Neil. He just wasn’t feeling it! Everyone else stayed with the peleton until either the 50 mile point, where Bill succumbed to cramps or the 80 to 90 mile point where all but Peto, Carlos and Jorge were casted out. All except for Angel who almost missed the mass start and never was able to recover after a flat tubular tire only 17 miles into the course. We were all much better prepared for this century than the Wilson 100 the week before. All of us were loaded down with four or more water bottles, gel packs, electrolyte supplement tablets, bananas, and more. This was going to be a nonstop sub-4 hour century but that wasn’t to be. Peto finished second in 4 hours and 10 minutes. He was right behind a rider who somehow was able to rejoin the peleton several times with the aid of a SAG vehicle. No, the rider wasn’t drafting behind the vehicle. He and his bike were all loaded up comfy and cozy in the back of a van, hatch open, speeding through the back roads of Georgia to somewhere just beyond the peleton. That’s taking SAG support to its limits. Carlos finished in 4 hours and 11 minutes. Jorge finished up front in the mix somewhere with Carlos and Peto.  Everyone else finished somewhere after them.
The first riders to finish the century
Overall, it was a great century. We had awesome club participation and were probably the largest single group in club kit. The rest stops were plentiful and well stocked. The riders were fun and friendly, except for the grumpy elderly gentleman that had words with Junior.  Junior's reply as described by Mike was that “Junior killed him with kindness”. Way to go Junior!

We ate dinner at Tubby’s at the River Street Inn on Sunday night. The whole of River Street was abuzz with people enjoying the Labor Day weekend. So much so that it took us almost an hour to decide where we’d eat and another 45 minutes to get a table for thirteen.

Susan and I offer our condolences to Junior and Johanna Diaz on the passing of Johanna’s grandmother. They received the sad news as we all waited at The Distillery for more riders to finish the century.

See the entire Savannah Century photo Album below.

2012 Savannah Century