Good ideas often start small; as simple suggestions. So when Danny sent out an e-mail to the team suggesting we take up the Strava Quarq Power Trip Challenge (100 miles in a single ride on February 22-24), it was just that. A long ride on a closed loop. Simple. From those humble beginnings, we get the Team Superior 5xR (or the Riverside 110, if you prefer… but acronyms are really cool, especially when no one knows what they mean), a 110 mile ride consisting of five loops around the Tulsa Riverside trail system.
Setting up a 100+ mile ride can be pretty tough. It has to be planned carefully to include rest stops at good intervals, traffic control, safe riding routes, etc. When Danny suggested doing the Quarq challenge on our normal Thursday night ride loop around Riverside – turning it into a multi-loop ride – it was an awesome fit. Routes would naturally range from 22 miles (one loop) to 110 miles (five loops), with each rider choosing to do the route they’d like.
For a rest stop, I volunteered my truck, and stocked it with the three C’s of rest stop goodies: Cyclo-food (shot bloks, endurolytes, bananas, granola bars, fig newtons, cookies, pb&j, pickles), Cyclo-drinks (water, gatorade, soda, beer), and Cyclo-gear (co2, pump, inner tubes, rags, first aid, tools, etc.). Since it would remain at the parking lot, it would act as our rest stop once every 22 miles. Being on the Riverside trail system, there were plenty of rest rooms located at the various parks along the route.
Even simple rides have to deal with some complexities though. In this case, we would have multiple people doing various numbers of loops, at different speeds. We didn’t have anyone manning the rest stop, and couldn’t leave the truck sitting there unlocked. To solve this, I distributed the keys and fobs to various riders, hoping that – should we be separated – there wouldn’t be that large of a lag time between each rider that needed to access the rest stop.
The next problems were out of our control. First, it’s February. And though the weather was unseasonably warm for Tulsa (starting at 48° at 10AM and warming to 55, if that), it’s still not what I’d call “pleasant”. Couple that with a 15-20 mph wind coming out of the south, and suddenly layering of clothes became a real issue. See, the route consisted of 11 miles almost straight north, and then back again. So we had a strong tailwind heading out, which made us heat up in our layers (since we lost the cooling effect of the wind). Then we’d turn south, sweaty from the ride north, and freeze on the way back, fighting into that cold headwind.
But our crazy… er, um, I mean, “stalwart” riders came out and rode anyway. In all, we had twelve people participate, riding distances from 44 miles to 112 miles. As each loop passed, the wind got stronger, and we got worn down. Our flight up north no longer blasted by at 25 mph. Instead, we were pushed along by the wind, savoring whatever coasting we got to do.
After the 4th loop, I thought I was done. And if I wasn’t done, I thought maybe I’d just do five miles out and five back, so I could say I passed 100 (I was at 90.3). But Ronnie – a man who never seems to get despondent (one of our team’s great motivators) – talked me into the last loop. And not half a loop, or three-quarters, but the whole shebang. Add to that the inspiration of Danny, one of our awesome perpetuals, and I just had to keep rolling.
Reflecting over the entire day – since you have nothing else to do when hammering into a headwind other than worry about how much longer you have to hammer into a headwind – I felt like this day was so much more than just the ride. Our riders were out there in February, rolling a century. They were seeing the same sights over and over… and over, and yet they kept rolling. They inspired each other, supported one another, pulled into the wind repeatedly, and hit milestones that any rider would be proud of at any point in a riding season, let alone pre-season. And because of them, this turned out to be my longest ride ever.
As for the guy who started it all – Dan the man – he rolled his first century, and then some. Can’t ask for much more than that… except a maybe a little less wind. 🙂