Ride Report: Festivelo
A month ago, when I did a metric century that was hillier than I expected, I decided I wanted to go back to Charleston to do the Island century ride at Festivelo. I had done that ride two years ago as my first century since coming back to bicycling, and it is very flat.
My family didn't go this time, but I found a friend who was interested in seeing Charleston to share the drive and hotel with. When we got to our hotel we walked over the the minor league baseball arena where the start would be and I was surprised how warm it was. I decided to wear my lighter pair of tights and a light long sleeved top under my vest instead of wool. I had only brought warm wool socks, which it turned out I was glad of.
We got up very early because I thought the century ride started at 7 and I needed to check in and eat breakfast. It turned out that it started at 7:30, so we got cold sitting around (the temperature at 6:30 was 54 F). But we had fun talking to people from all over who had come to do the whole four-day event (I had just signed up for one day). There was a family who had come from British Columbia by plane with a tandem that came apart and a second bike.
It was exciting to head out early in the morning with about 50 people (the metric century started later). We rode up over the James Island connector, basically a highway bridge over the river and marshes but very quiet and pretty early on a Saturday morning. Once we got onto Johns Island there were fewer turns and traffic lights and we could settle in. I kept up a fast pace, averaging 17 mph for a while. After the first rest stop I pushed to catch up with a pair of young women and rode behind them for 5 miles for so, but when they stopped talking and put their heads down they dropped me quickly. Then at another place where we went out to the end of a road and turned around I saw some people turning around at the entrance to the town (instead of at the end of the road) and pushed to catch up with them and ride behind them. I stayed with them until the second rest stop but then I rode out of that with some other people who dropped me even more quickly. I had seen a lot of riders behind me but no one caught up with me for the next 15 miles. I was keeping up a considerably better pace than two years ago--I averaged 16 mph over the first 60 miles. I began to worry that everyone else had taken shortcuts, but when I got to the lunch stop at 80 miles I heard there were still about 25 riders out on the course.
Lunch was hamburgers and chips and potato salad on the Folly Beach Pier--hamburgers have never tasted so good. I had eaten peanut butter sandwiches at the first two rest stops and a banana and chex mix at the third, and it felt like time for something more substantial. I drank only water.
The high for the day in Charleston was 67. It never felt that warm, but it was sunny and pleasant and the wind, while occasionally annoying, wasn't bad. The last 20 miles I slowed down, but I wasn't hurting or struggling to keep going. I didn't even find going up the big bridge of the James Island Connector hard; the hard part was dealing with highway traffic. I finished the 103 miles in 6 hours 52 minutes riding time (7 hours had been my goal), for an average of 15 mph, in about 8 hours elapsed time
When I did this ride two years ago I had only been back to bicycling six months, but I had prepared more carefully, with more long rides. This year my longest rides this fall had been three 60 milers, and I don't think I did any other rides over 40 miles. So I was impressed that I was about an hour faster this year and it didn't feel nearly as hard.