Pushing the Solstice Century back a week was brilliant! We had great weather! Warm but not hot, mostly sunny skies, and little to no wind...awesome.
I'm never too sure how many people will show up to this ride. I knew of about 11 but that was it. We started with 20! We did the same route as the past few years, North of Little Falls and back on opposite sides of the Mississippi River. It's mostly flat but that helps keep the pace fast and the group together.
We leave at 4:30, with the goal to get back before dark. I'm not sure that we have ever done this. Flats, a slow refuel at the gas station, stop lights, etc. all add to the time. Because of work, forgotten shoes, or a flat enroute to the shop we had made plans to meet up with riders on our way out of town. This never seems to go well and takes away our sun light. It was perfect this year! Everytime we rolled up to a meeting spot the rider pulled up at the same time...a good start.
The pace seemed "hotter" this year but if you were back in the draft it was significantly easier. By the half way point and our gas station stop we were just shy of a 23 mph avergage. Even the single cashier was able to get us in and out quickly.
The west side is a bit shorter so we always have to add on some mile to get the 100. We took a right into St. Stephen and climbed a couple hills. Those hills hurt and they aren't that big! I was in the front and I kept waiting for others to come around as I felt I was going too slow. It seems others were hurting too, or just being nice, and no one came around. In St. Stephen it was realized the group had been split so we stopped and made the group whole again. If you are primarily up front you don't realize if people are dropping off the back (in a group that size). Through out the ride we lost about 3-5 riders. I'm a bit bummed on this. If we had slowed up, just a bit, would they have been able to regroup and catch back on? Oh big group rides! And there was the carrot of a 23 mph average too.
Nonetheless we flew. We finished with 101.5 miles, NO FLATS, 23 mph avergage, in 4 hours 17 minutes! We beat the pizza back to the shop! Many of us hung out after (joined by others later), ate pizza, hydrated, and talked about the ride...always the best part!
Thanks to everyone that came out. Such a fun night.
I really want to get an hour spin in today but really didn't feel like getting 5 hours of sleep so I could ride. Work just got slammed with a bunch of repairs so I need to head in soon to start on those. Tonight I need to mow and weed the garden. There is also trail work at Plum Creek (5:30). Plus the family is back and I'd like to hang with them. So who knows on tonight...going with the flow.