We didn’t have to stage until 4:00 am, but, when I woke up at 2:00 am, I knew I should just get up. When you’re excited for an event, sleep is kind of a waste of time. Best to just get the coffee flowing. By 3:45 am when Jay Westcott pulled in from his 3-hour drive, I was ready to roll out, and Jay was in desperate need of coffee. We met Jason Harris and guest rider Kim Goldman at Key Bridge, then rolled the empty city streets to the start.
We got to the start where co-founder Robby Walsh was already on the bullhorn getting the 500+ riders assembled—not an easy task. He was worrying about the missing police who were supposed to escort us out of town.
As Kim got her aero-braids installed, Alex Manente joined with his gorgeous, loaned Pinarello Dogma with Di2 electronic shifting, hydraulic brakes and Zipp 303 disc wheels—a sight to behold. We were all a bit groggy but excited. None of us had ever been part of this event or traveled from D.C. to Dewey Beach via bicycle.
As with the start of any big ride or race, the potential for crashes is much greater in the middle of the pack, so we made our way to the front during staging. When the ride departed, we had only a few in front of us, but with potholes seemingly appearing out of nowhere and people swerving to avoid them, it forced a good deal of focus for 5:00 am.
As we pushed to pace to avoid the fray, Alex dropped out of sight as he had stopped to help a rider with a flat tire. We wouldn’t see him again until the end. Impressive as ever, Harris was right at the front taking fast pulls on his mountain bike.
One of the things I love about cycling is it forces you to clear you mind and focus on the task at hand, especially when surrounded by other cyclists who might not be used to pack riding. It only takes a split second for someone to forget that if they suddenly move 12 inches to either side, they might catch the front tire of someone behind them and cause a horrible accident—which is exactly what happened about 20 miles in.
Personally I’m always slightly terrified when I see triathlon (or time trial) bikes in a pack, because it’s quite hard to keep a bike from swerving while steering with your elbows and straining to keep the pace high. While I gave some extra space around these riders, unfortunately the guy right beside me in the Peter Sagan kit did not. One sketchy twitch in front of him, and Sagan hit the deck going 24 mph.
The safest action when you’re at the front of a bunch is not to look back in the event of a crash, so we pedaled on. With 500+ riders right behind us, I knew he’d get plenty of help. I figured him off to a hospital, however cyclists can be a tough, stubborn bunch. He caught up to us at mile 60, no worse for the wear, still hammering. I should have taken a photo of his torn kit and bloodied legs, but I was too impressed with his determination.
We passed Kimberly’s fav coffee shop *ding!* While it was a bit overcast, the ride over the Annapolis bridge was impressive.
Watch the video —>
The aid stations were great with volunteers yelling and encouraging everyone. The sun tried to poke out now and then, but I think most of us were happy to not bake in heat. I’m not sure if higher temps would have slowed down Kim who had a borrowed pair of Zipp 404’s. She was constantly driving the pace and showing us boys who was the most fit. She easily could have dropped us but chose to hang back and keep it fun.
Watch the video —>
I always wish I took more photos, but thankfully Ty and Abram were there to get some shots, including this one of Jerry Holloway who manages the Lindsay VW dealership.
A big thank you to all the Lindsay family for encouraging us to participate with them in this very worthwhile event. They helped Gripped Racing raise over $3,000 through BikeToTheBeach.Org benefiting AutismSpeaks.Org !!
For the most part cars gave us room, and we arrived to Dewey in good shape.
Alex took his time and arrived a bit behind us but no less thrilled to have put in an honest day of work on a beautiful machine. He finished the longest ride of his cycling career with 104 miles in the bag.
We have to give a big shout out to Steph who is nursing an Achilles injury and could not join, but she still stepped up to support by driving half of us back in the team car. All said and done, Bike to the Beach is a very well-run event and one I’d highly recommend for anyone in the Mid-Atlantic region. See you there next year!