Monday, May 17, 2010

The Painted Turtles Breeze Through the Flèche!

by Tim Dodge, Captain

I thought I’d take a moment to recap our ride during the last weekend's Fleche. We managed to fill the team with myself as captain, Bob Bruce, Tim Feldman, John Flanigan and Tom Knoblauch. While I’d like to think that our smooth ride was a result of great route planning, the reality is that we were very fortunate with weather, a lack of mechanicals and good team riding.

The Painted Turtles rarin' to be let our of their coffee shop start and be on their way!

Our route took us from central Denver west to Morrison, then up along the foothills past Boulder, Lyons and Ft Collins to Wellington. We headed due east to Nunn, then down through Greeley and out to Keenesburg. Finally we headed west again to Longmont then south to the finish in Louisville.

Tom Knoblauch wins the prize for most suitably attired, in his sea-turtle jersey!

We covered a little less than 250 miles, and we had one flat tire to show for our efforts… I guess the math for our 5-person team works out to one flat in roughly 2,450 tire miles (2 tires per person, right?). There was also a small incident half an hour into the ride when John hit a bump and the bracket holding his light snapped in half. Nothing a little electrical tape couldn’t solve, courtesy of Bob.

Here's the team heading through Red Rocks:

Our worries turned out to be for naught. In years of riding in Colorado none of us had ever experienced tailwinds for a full 24 hours. As we headed south from Nunn, riding easily with two abreast and talking about whatever came to mind, we realized how different it could have been. Instead of cruising conversationally at 25mph we could have been wheel-to-wheel in a paceline grinding out 12mph.

One of the happy benefits of our luck with the weather was ample time to eat. If we had known about the tailwinds ahead of time we probably would have chosen a longer route. But we didn’t, so we ate instead.

Heading towards Boulder we made an unscheduled stop in Louisville for bagels. In Ft Collins we found a Subway. At least one rider couldn’t pass up Burger King in Wellington. In Greeley we sat at Old Chicago’s eating pizza, oblivious in our bike gear to the crowd around us. We took refuge at Love’s truck stop in Hudson as the temperatures dropped early Sunday morning. Then we finished with some coffee at McDonald’s in Longmont before rolling to the finish. (As I write this I realize we sampled some of Colorado’s finest haute cuisine. We also proved that randos can be pretty adamant about keeping the tank full.)

When we pulled through Louisville towards the finish, we saw Beth and Brent Myers sipping coffee. We all had a few minutes to spare before the finish, so we decided to take one more break and pose for a team picture.

What struck all of us was how much fun we had. The camaraderie of riding together for 24 hours was fantastic. We compared notes on lights, nutrition, clothing and other equipment in preparation for some of the longer brevets ahead. John even managed to qualify for an R5000 award that started with PBP in 2007. Then we had the perfect ending as all three Fleche teams came together for a finishing parade – tough to beat a 100% finishing rate!

See everybody soon,

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