Race Report: Best Buddies Challenge

Ed’s report on a great ride:

best_buddies

… Riding in a charity ride offers the satisfaction that you helped another human being while also doing something good for yourself. But there’s a hidden reward: you get to ride with the occasional pro.

On Saturday I had been asked to ride with a team racing in the Best Buddies Challenge’s first-ever gentleman’s race.  This charity ride is one of my annual highlights, and the racers would get to ride with George Hincapie. The legendary racer had volunteered to fetch water and food for the teams, and of course to also lay down epic watts into the headwinds of the Plymouth cranberry bogs.

I was disappointed, however, when my doctor advised me not I race or ride the century. I needed five-to-ten more days of rest in order to recover from an acute viral respiratory infection that had already wrecked all of my May race plans. But I knew doc was right; I had relapsed twice while trying to train through it, and I was risking pneumonia or worse. (Word to the wise: take recovery seriously after something like a 525-mile tour.) I was disappointed and angry with myself, upset for letting down teammates from the gentleman’s race team and Community Bike earlier in the month, not to mention the donors who sponsored me to ride in Best Buddies.

So I withdrew from the gentleman’s race and decided to soft pedal the 20-mile ride that starts on Cape Cod. At least I could do that, so I rode away yesterday happy to even be on my bike (I hadn’t ridden all week), taking photos along the way.

It was nice to ride with this group. Most of them were recreational cyclists at best, and they had all the problems that novices have: too much gear, not enough water, inability to fix flats, too-warm clothes for a hot day, bad bike setup, etc. Hell some weren’t even cyclists; they had been talked into riding the 20-miler by a friend. And many were riding with someone who was intellectually challenged, like the Hoyt team that also runs the Boston Marathon. All of these people were super stoked to be riding, they smiled and talked a lot, and they didn’t care about much other than having a good time and getting to the finish line. I enjoyed my toodling and reminded myself how, in so many ways, I was lucky just to be there.

At around the 93-mile mark I heard a familiar sound behind me. I looked over my shoulder, and yes, it was the approaching gentleman’s race pack. I pulled over to the right side of the road.(I used to get lapped when I was a beginner racing CX with the 4s, so I knew the drill.) They passed, and then I saw the BMC kit swoosh by. I thought that maybe, just maybe I might catch the pack and ride a little with them. “It would be so cool to ride with Big George,” I thought.

So I sped up and caught the pack, so happy to be going fast again (don’t tell doc). I rolled up to George, introduced myself and fanboy’ed him. “George, I have really enjoyed watching you race over the years,” I said. “Thank you so much,” he said with this great big smile. I asked if I could take his photo, and of course he agreed. “That’s pretty cool tech,” he said of my GoPro with the radio trigger. And then he posed for the photo below.

I feel good today, guys. Recovering nicely after a good Best Buddies charity ride yesterday. And I am confident I will return to the road with you soon.

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