was putting together the first annual Double Down bike ride that left Charlotte's Bicycle Sport at 0530hrs on Friday March 30, 2007 bound for Isle of the Palms South Carolina, 226 miles away. There were 12 in the day before the ride and I was pretty excited to be part of such a challenge. The night before the ride I tried to go to sleep early but that did not work out so well, instead I fiddled with last minute tuning of my gear and fairly new Lemond Zurich. I was traveling with two bottles on the bike, one in a jersey pocket, a small tool/flat kit in a small saddle bag and some fooding stuffs in the other jersey pockets.
I woke up at 0345hrs, showered and was dressed by 0400hrs, sipping a fresh dark brew and enjoying my preride oatmeal. The Montero was loaded and at 0420hrs I left Dooley bound for the shop with at least 30mins cushion. As I made my way down Independence around Eastway the truck started bucking, then cut off. Holy Crap not another race nightmare come true. Oh wait a minute, this is not a race and I have my bike with me and don't have to count on this big white POS. The car started back up and got me off the next exit at Briar Creek and over to Monroe then 5th street. One block up 5th, the bucking started again and this time the motor stopped for ever. What a feeling, I was 4 miles from the shop with a dead car and had about 25mins till 'H' hour, I called Ilan on the celly and told him not to leave without me. Helmet snapped in darkness, last sip of coffee from the steel and off into the darkness blinking bright red from behind with a white LED beam to the front.
When I arrived 10 were there milling about and making final readiness for the days journey. We took off within 5 minutes of our target and picked up two more riders within about 7 miles making the dirty dozen accounted for. Around 20 miles in, still in darkness the two fast pros took off the front. I remember asking Ilan in my best Phil Ligget voice, "Will Fehr or Paltrow go after the two lads?" I know, I know, calm down BIll enjoy the ride it is going to be a long day. Those two off the front were never seen again, they were really fast. The sun came up and things were fine at around 22mph in this group of ten as we approached Heath Springs SC. in the grey sky. All of a sudden at a train track crossing Drew went down hard, Dave went left to avoid his mess and went down, then another Bill stacked into him and went over the bars. All of this happened in flight in front of Mike Perry and I who split the carnage to the left at the end of the line. My first thought was, "Whew, I did not go down!" Then I realized riders were down and we still had a ways to go. There was a broken wheel and road rash major for young Drew which took him out of the ride and waiting for spousal extraction to the QC. Bill and Dave recovered and continued on.
Ilan's routing for this ride was perfect, I do not think we missed a turn at all. At mid day we stopped for lunch at Santee and assessed what was left. It seems like a time warp even looking back on it now but as the sun was setting we approached the bridges in the low country near the coast.
The last bridge was up and over the inter coastal water way in the dark for the last 3 miles into our finishing goal on Isle of the Palms. At mile 223 in the darkness without lights came towards us a mother and son on beach cruisers. They caught us by surprise and our little 9 person peloton split open to avoid wrecking with the on coming locals. I swerved and hit some debris that immediately flattened my rear tire. Duncan, Ilan, Bill and Nate gathered round and each had a hand in the fix and re airing of my wheel, it was fixed in less than a couple and we descended the back side of the bridge and rolled in to the house awaiting our arrival. This was one of my most memorable ride rides ever and I can't wait for next years. That night I had trouble sleeping, my heart keep beating fast and my legs were twitchy.
The very top photo is a self portrait that I took about 2 hours after the ride was over, the one below it is a group shot in Camden SC around the 100 mile mark.