Riding over Pack's Mountain

I read about the ride at http://www.greenvillespinners.org/ Here is the description:
The ride heads north from the BiLo start/finish toward Lake Robinson. We then cut over to Packs Ridge Rd and ride the ridge of Packs Mountain. We will have a light break set up at Lake Robinson so you can enjoy the great view across the lake while you refuel for the climbing at Packs Mountain. We will have a SAG vehicle to support the riders on this route. We plan to have pre-ride mechanical support provided by The Great Escape of Greenville. Now best of all this is a FREE event sponsored by the Greenville Spinners Bike Club!

Now when I saw the big word FREE, I was instantly interested. I arrived at the Bilo parking lot 20 minutes early, unloaded my bike, and joined the group of 50-75 riders at the start line. I rode about 20 miles yesterday pulling my little girls, so I didn't want o go out to hard and find out I didn't have any gas in the tank.

After a few minutes of formalities, the ride was off on its way. I had decided t try to stay with the 1st 20 riders or so at the start, so that I wouldn't have to work so hard to stay with the pack. Problem was, I found myself in the front 3-4 riders within minutes after leaving the Bilo plaza. This could not be good. Had I gone out too hard again? 5 miles in, I found myself all alone, I had taken my turn pulling, but no decided to take my wheel. I looked back to see the other riders in a loose pack behind me, content to let me go.

Because I can ride alone every day, I decided to ease it of, and drop back into the pack. I slowed to a crawl, to let the group catch me, but when they swallowed me up, it was all I could do to accelerate back up to speed and stay with them. I soon found that this ride did not contain any "team" riders or jerseys. For whatever reason, maybe because it was a free ride, the big boys had not chose to join in. Sp today was like a JV ride then. If that were the case, perhaps I could finish fairly high.

(This was not a race let me remind you, it was a ride... but anyone who has ever been on one of things knows that the word "race" is implied)

We reached Lake Robinson at 1the 10mi mark, and because of some confusion with the way the arrows were painted on the road, the entire group pulled in to the parking lot. Very few of us wanted to stop, so after a loop around the parking lot, we were on the way. It was at that point I decided that I wanted to finish in the top 10 for the day if I could. There were about 5 riders that I could see pushing the tempo. I decided to lead out again, and see if we could break away with 5-8 riders. When I hit it this time, 4 other riders joined me.

We each took turns pulling strong, although one large rider (I heard him say he was on a 64 frame) was definitely doing more work than the rest of us... I knew I would not be able to out ride him at the end of the day... and I didn't.

Someone complimented me for my trailer hitch attachment on my bike. He also pulls his kids around for a good training workout. I thought this was pretty cool, because I am usually pretty self conscious about having the attachment on my bike. Most of the time, I take it off when going on an organized ride. This morning I forgot to do so.

Just before reaching the base of Pack's Mountain we went through a series of fast downhills, which we took to casually as a lead group. As we began the big climb, our group of 5 had grown to 10-12 riders.

Now for the climb. The big boy I was keeping an eye on had seemingly no problem going up this thing. often, the taller riders suffer on the hills, and make it back on the flats. This was not the case for him. He climbed very strongly as well. The same group of 5 of us pulled pretty quickly away from everyone while going up the climb. Don't get me wrong, we were all suffering, but apparently the fellas behind us were having a worse time of it. Basically that was the last time we saw the rest of the pack.

We reached Lake Robinson for the second time at mile 33. This time we stopped for the SAG, and hung around long enough to see a few riders begin to straggle in. The heat, now 75 degrees, was beginning to take it's toll. 2 of the riders we had spent the day with decided to wait for a friend, so we went on without them, picking up a few guys who decided to make the stop a quick one.

At the next stop sign, we came up on a rider who was not part of the day's ride, and the poor guy fell over at the stop sign, because he was too busy looking back at us, and forgot to un-clip. I felt sorry for him, because I have done the exact same thing. He insisted he was fine, and went on our way.

Fatigue began setting in around mile 40, because another guy fell over at a stop sign, this time nearly taking me and the big guy out when he went down. He also told us to go ahead, he wanted to check his bike before continuing. To his credit, he caught back up to us a mile or so later, which is not easy to do at all when riding out there all alone.

We pulled back in to Bilo without a sprint to the finish, yellow jersey ceremony, flower wreath, or a milk jug for the winner. We rode in together, I guess I finished third, but we had succeeded in staying away from the pack all day, something I had never done before.

Granted, this is like a JV ride for cyclists, but it still felt pretty good nonetheless. Now I am going to take a nap!
Click the link for a panorama view of Packs Mountain


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