Big Dam Bridge 100 2013

George Hincapie Big Dam Bridge 100 2013

Not the greatest picture, but here is George Hincapie cooling down after the 2013 Big Dam Bridge 100.

The Big Dam Bridge 100 is a staple in my race calendar.  It is a fun course that takes you up some steep hills and through some of the most beautiful parts of Central Arkansas.  On top of that, it’s also a great time of year to be out on your bike.  Traditionally, the weather is just starting to cool off, so when you’re riding the temperature is just perfect!

This year was no different.  In addition, DLT Events was stepping up their game.  The race expo was moved from the Wyndham in North Little Rock, to the much larger Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock.  The Capital Hotel was also a partner for the race, offering special packages to participants, but one of the coolest new additions this year was that George Hincapie, yes, THE George Hincapie, was going to be at the race.  This race is starting to be one of the premier rides in the country.

Although Phil and I would have liked to have done the 100 mile course, we just didn’t have the motivation to train for it.  Phil’s mom was in town that weekend and it was just a few weeks after my second half ironman.  So, we signed up for the 65 mile course.

After picking up our packets the day before the race, I broke one of the most basic rules of endurance sports: don’t try anything new.  As I had mentioned above, Phil’s mom was in town for the weekend, so we went out to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner, Big Orange.  Phil and I eat here on a weekly basis, so I felt pretty comfortable having this as my pre-race dinner.  One thing I didn’t think about though was that I had a cider with my meal.  I had never had cider before and I liked it, but apparently it didn’t like me.

I felt a little funny at dinner, but I didn’t think much about it.  We went home and went to bed.  I woke up before my alarm ever went off and I didn’t feel good.  I kept going through the motions of the morning and made breakfast (which was hard to get through), got dressed and headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth.  Immediately after brushing my teeth I was driving the porcelain school bus.  This definitely wasn’t good.  I cleaned myself up and hoped that the whole thing was over with and continued to get my bike and gear together.

Phil and I drove over to the start of the ride and my stomach started getting queasy again.  It wasn’t over.  On top of everything else, we were running a little behind, so after parking near the finish line in North Little Rock, we hurriedly got on our bikes and rode over to the start in Little Rock.  My stomach really wasn’t doing well and I made the call that it would be better to empty my stomach now, before the start, than after we had already ridden 10 miles.  So, I wondered off and found a group of trees and did my thing.  I felt a lot better.

I got back to my bike and before I knew it, it was time to go. Phil and I took off with the rest of the 65 and 50 riders down LaHarpe Blvd. The first few miles of this ride are always a little crazy as everyone tries to find their place and it doesn’t really settle down until everyone has to funnel onto the River Trail.  After getting over the Two Rivers Bridge, Phil and I settled into a group that seemed to be going at a good pace.  This was really good since I wasn’t feeling well, it meant that we had a group that could break the wind for Phil and I.  Things seem to be working out well.

Then, as we were going through the turn past Maumelle Park, Phil pulled over to the side of the road.  Flat.  Phil quickly flipped his bike over and started changing his back wheel.  I looked at the flat tire while he was preparing his tools and immediately found a piece of debris that had most likely punctured the tube.  As Phil changed his tire, I watched as people streamed by us.  We had lost the group we were riding with and now we would have to ride through a lot of people again.  Ugh.

Phil quickly got his tire changed and we got back on our bikes and got to work.  My stomach was settling down more and more, but I was still very weary of exerting myself too much since I knew that I had absolutely nothing in my stomach.  I felt like I could hit “the wall” at any moment.  This meant that Phil had to be in front and do most of the work.  The good news was that we were only doing the 65 mile route and we weren’t trying to meet any time goal.  So, we could take breaks when we wanted and we didn’t have to hold a certain pace, but of course we didn’t want to be out there forever.

Phil did a great job of leading me around and we finally got to the turn around at the top of Wye Mountain.  We stopped at the aid station and I was able to eat a quarter of a PB&J, some pickle juice and refilled my Gatorade.  After a bathroom break, we were back at the grind.

The rest of the ride was pretty unremarkable and I was quite surprised that I never hit “the wall.”  The last ten miles or so were more difficult, but I had definitely felt worse.  According to my chip time, we finished in 3:56:48.  It’s not a great time, but considering that Phil had a flat tire and I did not have a good morning (to say the least), I’ll take it.  Also, I learned my lesson, no more cider for me.

Beyond my race, there were a group of local riders that were attempting to ride the 100 mile course in under four hours.  This is insanely fast!  The riders would have to average, AVERAGE, at the least 25 mph.  CRAZY! To help them achieve this goal, George Hincapie volunteered to ride with them and pull some of the weight.  The 100 milers started a half hour after us, so we were right on time to maybe see something great! Phil and I waited around a little bit at the finish line festival, but unfortunately the group just missed the mark.  They came across the line in 4:04:21.  Still amazing and these guys got to have the awesome experience of riding with one of cycling’s greatest athletes.  I hope to see these guys out there next year to attempt this again.

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