Saturday saw me do my second charity ride of the year at the 10th Annual Patriots Memorial Ride. It’s been held each year following the attacks of Sepember 11, 2011 in honor of those who died. I had gotten a lot of riding in over the past month so I was looking forward to the ride and how I would hold up.

I arrived at the high school we were departing from at about 6:30 and proceeded to get ready. About six of us from our normal Saturday morning shop ride were gonig to meetup and do this ride together but only one other guy showed up. I consider him a strong rider but didn’t know until after the ride was done that this would be his longest ride ever.

After a ceremony that included a color guard, singing of the national anthem, and gun salute, we we’re ready to roll.

The initial strategy going into this ride was to do it about 18 mph. At least that’s what was discussed at a couple of the shop rides with the other would be participants. With me and one other guy showing up we basically just rolled out and tried to hook up with a group.

About five miles in we had settled into a group of about 10 riders and were rolling along at 19-20 mph. That felt like a good pace so we just hung near the back to see how things played out. At about the 11 mile point we made our first turn and the group dwindled down to seven riders. We would stay together for the remainder of the ride.

At mile 20 we stopped at a convenience store for potty breaks and bottle refills. It was here that we discovered a third rider from our Saturday morning rides that we didn’t know was coming. He’d been with our group of seven and we didn’t notice. It was great to have another familiar face.

We hit the road again and settled into a good rotating paceline. There were times it was kind of sketchy because you could tell some folks hadn’t done much group riding so they were a little skittish. It all worked out though and we kept the 20 mph pace until we hit the 40 mile rest stop where I visited one of the worst smelling bathrooms ever. I also encountered the first rooster I’ve ever seen beg for food.

The last 17 miles were more of the same but the final 5 miles was a little tough as we turned north directly into a headwind. We managed to keep the pace at 19-20 and rolled back into the start/finish with no problems. As I parked my bike I did a quick check of the computer. We had ridden 57.5 miles in 2 hours, 59 minutes, and 58 seconds at a 19.1 mph pace. Awesome.

I don’t think I could have ridden that well if I hadn’t been putting in the weekly training miles the last month or so and going to the Saturday morning group rides at the bike shop. The group rides in particular not only got me comfortable riding with a group but they also helped me push my fitness limits by trying to ride with the fast group as long as possible. Without those hard rides under my belt I’m not sure I could have ridden so well on Saturday.

PhotoC: agreatbigcity