|At the Finish of the Lizard Under the Skillet, 2013|
I'm standing pretty tall there as I feel great, Gentle Readers of This Blog. I just had one of the best rides every - ever since moving to KS. Back from Chicago and mostly rested up, I wanted to go out and do the Lizard, or better known as the Lawrence Bike Club's Lizard Under the Skillet. The 62 mile course was for me, mes amis! Last year I volunteered at one of the stops ( I was still on crutches) and that earned me points - points enough that I got to ride the ride for free, and I had enough points to renew my membership to the bike club as well! So already I was enjoying some perks!
|6 am and in the saddle|
The Lizard does not have a mass start - you can start anytime between 6 am and 8 am. Since the forecast was for 97 degrees, I was going to start no later than 6:01! But I had to just sip a bit more coffee - As always all my gear was ready the night before - no excuses for bailing out - and I was then surprised to awake to light rain. That was okay because things would be cool, and I knew the rain and cloud cover would burn away right away anyhow!
So I zipped away from The Little House, and into the wet, sleepy grey deserted streets of this little city in Kansas - and soon I was at the start, Broken Arrow Park. I got my SAG Receipt wrist band so I could stop and get stuff, and I was off!
I want to tell you quick, Gentle Readers of This Blog, that I used the feature on my Garmin 800 to map the course in my computer. The first time I did the Lizard, I got lost - this is due to the map being crap, and also to the fact that all the local guys figure they know these roads like the back of their hands - so, just to be sure, I went through and plotted out the route. As usual, Shawnee Rd, for example is actually labeled Hwy 33, etc etc, and even when you are there on the road itself, they may not even be any marker! I'm glad I did this because at the start, which had changed slightly from last year, riders were confused if they should turn left or go straight - and this was right out of the park at the start.
Everyone went straight, and I went left, and suddenly people were like, "Oops I think we're going the wrong way!" And now I have a group following me.
|An Event Photographer captured the KC MO guys I rode with all day|
|Randonneurs lead the way!|
I want to say I met some of the best people on this ride. I rode in a large pack, and everyone was friendly and just taking it easy. I wish I could have introduced myself, but I did ride the first 15 miles with a fellow Randonneur- that's him on the left. That was reassuring, mes amis, because as we mentioned to each other - this was not a race, this was simply going to be a fun ride! Which it was indeed!
Kansas is all about wind, and one reason I wanted to go early and get in the saddle is because I didn't want to ride in 100 per cent humidity with the temp at or near 100 degrees! I knew I'd suffer with the head wind right around the corner but I was able to stay in with a large group of riders, and I have to say that I was able to keep up! And we rode pretty fast - like 17 to 19 mph.
Being able to ride half the distance of the course, through the tailwind and not be suffering, was amazing! However, most the people in the group pulled off the go to the SAG stops, but the guys I hung with in our perfect pace-line - we did not want to slow down.
|The farms of Wellsville just north of Hwy 56|
|In the pace-line|
I stayed with the group of five guys from Kansas City as we seemed to be riding strong and in great rhythm. The pavement was still a bit wet, and we were all covered with a thin layer of oil and grit. I had put on tons of sunscreen, and when mixed with sweat, causes everything to stick to your skin.
We pull off to make one quick stop at the Sag at the 40 mile point in the course! This has been great as I've been riding wicked fast! This will be the turn-around point and then we'll have a blasting tail wind! The stop is fast - I take a leak, fill a water bottle, and eat a handful of fig newtons while we're clipping into the pedals.
|Off the bike for about three minutes, at mile 40|
|Gary on the left, Gordon on the right|
|65 miles in under 4 hours|
So the last 10 miles we were on roads I knew well - and oddly, we passed about 20 of 30 riders who seemed to be dragging themselves into the finish. We were still in that three man pace-line, doing our pulls and gliding along.
Soon we were there and at Broken Arrow Park; the ride complete. I was so happy, Gentle Readers of This Blog! I went out thinking I'd just ride along and enjoy my time on the bike, and let the miles come to me in time and impression, maybe get a few good shots with the camera for you. But instead I pushed myself to stay with the pack, ride hard as I could, and not think about stopping - just doing my part to keep the group rolling.
I did not have to struggle with brutal wind and burning heat - I arrived at the end tired, but a different kind of tired somehow.
To ride like that took a good deal of concentration - riding on a wheel just inches from your own at speeds you're not always used to, and then knowing that you have another rider right behind you as well. For a few hours after I got home, my heart was still racing! It was an exciting day and I credit it to guys like Gary and Gordon for making it a great ride!