Saturday morning started out good enough. I arrived at the prescribed time (8:30 a.m.) at the prescribed location (Salt Lake's City County Building) and then I flattened my own bike tire (trying to fill it up).
But I went to Provo anyway with a jolly crew of riders, found a bike shop near Provo's City Hall and got a new tube (and one for the road, Thanks Bingham Cyclery!) After some BYU-UTE bluster and some snacks at City Hall it was off to the races. But first some words from Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker:
Things started out great. Fresh legs and a beautiful course that had us skimming the eastern shore of an amazingly blue Utah Lake. At first, I kept up with the peleton, which was cranking (by my odometer) at a steady 20 mph-plus. Witness first my optimism about the day:
Now, as I said, I've never ridden 50 miles on a bike. However, for many of the riders 50 miles was just another day on the road. These types which included both Mayors, were the front of the pack and, soon enough, I was no longer with them. (UPDATE: I stand corrected, this was Provo Mayor John Curtis' longest ride ever too. Nice work Mr. Mayor!) Witness my waning optimism and snark:
At this point we back of the packers never saw the front of the pack again. We, the back of the packers, also never stopped, not once for water or other necessities. We also got lost. But thanks to some patient and kind Salt Lake Police Officers and the driver of the sag wagon who kept us on track and blocked traffic for us, we made it. Witness the post-climb hilarity (and really I'm kidding Mayor Becker) at the apex of the point of the mountain:
After this shot, things got really tough for our little crew at the back of the bus. We battled a headwind all the way from Draper to Downtown SLC. But as much as it seems I'm complaining it was actually all really amazing. We just fell into this survival mode together, moving up to take the lead and let the others (which by 11000 South was all of four) draft behind. A certain dogged determination set in and we just cranked it out. For those cyclists out there reading this and smirking about my modest pride: You have to start somewhere before you can get hardcore, right? Also my bike is really, really heavy.
By the time my group arrived at the City County building everyone was gone except for a few stragglers (including the encouraging bike crazy councilman Luke Garrott, thanks Luke!). And I know this wasn't a race, but I was dead last. I never got to thank that sag wagon driver and I never did get the names of my "teammates."
Crazy thing? I'd do it again. See you next time Mayors. I'll be ready for you next time. I'm thinking I'll lose the fenders and the kickstand.