Photo taken by Gil Hernandez
I got to ride the Battleship Ride this past Sunday. There were over 100 total riders that participated. I found it to be a tough ride with the very windy conditions and hillier than I had thought it would be. The ride was well supported I thought.
I had been encouraged by a couple of the regular Firestone and Summit riders to do this ride. We rode over to the start together. The plan had been to stay together, but with so many riders that didn't work out too good.
From the beginning I found myself very close to the front. I was able to stay there until the hill coming into Seminole where I found myself near the middle. After the first rest stop things really picked up a bit. There ended up being lots of small groups; the wind and hills did a number on several riders. I ended up riding across the causeway solo into the wind, not fun.
Once at the Battleship I topped off the bottles, grabbed some snacks, got into the group photo then departed. It was very cold with the wind; everyone was freezing and ready to hit the road. We were doing 30+ headed back across the causeway. Of course the hill up to Spanish Fort split people up again. I found myself riding in small groups again because I kept getting dropped on the hills.
Photo taken by Gil Hernandez
I was very glad to reach the last rest stop. My back was really hurting. I regrouped with my Firestone buddies and we headed out with a few other riders for a group of about 16.
I slowly worked my up towards the front. Hwy 90 in Alabama has rumble strips. Those things are really painful and are not a cyclist friend. Once we got back into Florida the rumble strips were gone but then there we the hill which I knew I would get dropped on. Sure enough the group of 16 split into small groups again.
I worked my way back up and took what I thought was a reasonable pull on Hwy 90 after the split with Alt 90. When I pulled off it was just me and one of my training buddies. Everyone else had dropped off. So my buddy and I traded pulls all the way back to the finish. My total ride time was just under six hours.
It was a hard ride, but I am very glad that did it. I had hoped that we would have all stuck together better, but I'm not very surprised that things split up quite a bit. There were so many riders of varying abilities and experience.
It has been interesting talking to people since about the ride. Most people I've talked to enjoyed it. I did talk to some people today that had gotten dropped very early on. Apparently the pace was a lot different at the back than it was at the front. I thought we were doing a reasonable pace of 17-18 at the start. People were talking and we were riding a double paceline. But the story from the back is that we were doing 26 mph. I will admit that maybe it was a bit of a quick start, but honestly believe that the people at the front were trying to keep a study reasonable pace; at least until the first rest stop. After the first rest stop everything went a bit crazy. I even heard stories of some people riding 21 mph into the wind across the causeway where I had slowed to 11 mph. For some people this was their first attempt at a century. I don't think this was the ride for a first attempt unless you were with a committed group. It's just too early in the year and the weather just wasn't that good.