I was remiss in not mentioning this in my earlier post on the subject, but when it comes to bike advocacy, there are several folks in North Little Rock city government who do more than talk the talk. They ride the bike! Mayor Pat Hays and NLR Parks Director Bob Rhoads both rode the 104 mile distance, while Alderman Charlie Hight rode the 68 miler.
Charlie Hight was very enthusiastic about his wholesome post ride chocolate milk, while also promoting a Miller product for his day job at Harbor Distributing.
Taking nothing away from Charlie or Bob, I've got to show some admiration for the Mayor. Bob is a long-time roadie and Charlie elected the shorter distance so that he could make the Arkansas-Alabama kick-off (too bad about that result!). Mayor Hays went all in. I believe that it was his first century and I know that the hilly route was much harder than his favorite ride on the pancake flat Harper's Loop. It was a long day on the road for him, but he stuck it out to the finish. Good job by all!
NLR Mayor Pat Hays is greeted by his grandchildren at the finish. A well-earned reward for a long, hard day in the saddle. photo by Bud Laumer
I didn't come up with a picture of Bob Rhoads, but we've chatted some recently about his riding "back in the day". The man has got some history on the bike and can still turn a crank.
Now, about all of that hill walking...
By all reports, every major climb on all of the routes, including Wye Mountain, Fortson Road and Batesville Pike, saw large numbers of riders off of the bike and hoofing it. I'm certainly not belittling anyone, but I'm curious about the phenomenon. Yes, there were some hard climbs, but I've heard surprising confessionals from strong riders who admitted to taking the stroll. I think there are a several classes of walkers:
- The "step up to a challenge rider": these are the folks for whom this ride is about as hard as anything they've ever done on the bike. They accepted that they were at the limit of their current ability and that if walking was what it took to finish, then they were going to walk. Frankly, these folks had a much harder day than many of us and they are to be commended.
- The "lemmings": It's OK, everybody is doing it! I'm only poking a little bit of fun here, but many of these riders would never have stepped off of the bike if there had not been a parade of walkers strung out on the hill in front of them. All of that company made it acceptable, whereas if they had been surrounded by merciless friends like mine, pride would have never let them put a foot down. As Diane's dainty riding partner so succinctly stated to her on Batesville Pike, "I'll f'ing die before I walk that hill.", and up they went.
-The "intimidated by a sign" riders: apparently there was a sign on Batesville Pike warning of "steep climb next 4 miles" or something to that effect. I spoke to several riders who were so disheartened by the prospect of such a daunting climb that they gave up before they ever started. To them I say, "Don't believe everything you read." It's usually not as bad as your worst fears.
Climbing is a mindset. Once doubt sets in and resolve is broken, the legs soon follow. I'm not much of a climber, but so far I've managed to finish what I've started, often with more whimper than roar. I will admit to having danced on the side of a steep street near home at the end of a long, hard ride, dealing with screaming leg cramps while eying the top of a hill temptingly within easy walking distance. It took a couple of tries to get my leg back over the bike, but I remounted and squeaked up the hill. I'm not the toughest guy around and my day will surely come, but I just couldn't bring myself walk it. Of course, I didn't have another 25 miles of ride in front of me!
Joe Jacobs had a nice write up on the BDB100, and includes some interesting demographic information:
Joe does a very nice job. After you read his BDB article, click on "home" to check out his more recent work. Good stuff!