Centurion bike race + skydiving updates

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Had a pretty decent weekend - I managed a decent run on Saturday morning; nearly 8-miles without any fatigue. It probably helped that I was on the road by 6:00am - before the heat and humidity had a chance to really dig-in and make things miserable. My run was finished by 7:00am, at which point I hopped in the shower, had some breakfast, packed my skydiving bag, and headed to the dropzone.

I arrived to the dropzone by 9:00am and was shocked to find the place completely full - there were cars everywhere, and the hangar was jam-packed with people. Looked like I was in for a long day of waiting for an opportunity to jump. I put my name on the board, and spent the next 3-4 hours watching and learning how to pack parachutes. By the time my name was up for a jump, I felt like I could recite the packing process in my sleep. :-)

Here I am, packing a pilot chute - nothing too exciting, but it was the first step in working toward being able to pack a parachute on my own (or with the oversight of a jump master).


With the pilot chute properly rolled, it was time to stuff it into the BOC (Bottom Of Container). Here it is, in place and all set to fly.


I finally had a chance to jump at around 1:30pm or so. It was hot and humid, with zero wind. Not ideal weather for skydiving. We hopped into the small Cessna, made our way to 4,000 feet, and just as I was climbing out, we hit a nice pocket of thermals... so, the plane became "bouncy." Not what you want when you're hanging from a wing.

I released from the wing, didn't arch real well, and went through with my PPCP (Practice Pilot Chute Pull) procedures. I successfully "deployed" my practice pilot chute, but I ultimately failed my first PPCP due to my weak arch. Drat!

The rest of the flight was uneventful; the heat made for a very slow descent... I was under canopy for probably 10 minutes or so, which meant I had plenty of time to play around in the air. My landing was also uneventful - landed in the pea gravel, exactly where I was supposed to.

I finished out the afternoon with a bike ride - a short 15-16 mile ride with my boss, and then called it an evening.

Sunday morning came far too quickly - I had registered to ride in the Centurion bike race, so I had to be at the Middleton airport and ready to ride by 6:45am. At about 6:30am, just as I was unloading my bike from the car, the thunderstorms rolled-in to town. And with that, they delayed the start of the race from 7:00am until 9:00am.

With an extra two hours available, I headed to a local cafe for a light breakfast. I had two egg whites and some toast:


I caught up with some other riders and we sat around talking about bikes, triathlons, and other fun stuff. By 8:30am or so, it looked as though the skies were clearing, so we made our way back out to the airport. We definitely had some rain... here I am making my way to the starting line:


We wound around to the starting corral, where we waited for another 15-20 minutes; the race organizers were concerned about a potential storm cell, but it never surfaced, so we were cleared to go. Here's the last photo I snapped while on the course - we departed about a minute after this picture was taken:


I started off slow; I wasn't sure where to slot in - there were some sprinters who took off immediately, some slow pokes who clogged-up the works, and some average folks who tried like me to navigate through the traffic.

After about 10 miles or so, the packs had sorted themselves, and I found myself riding in a nice group, rolling along at an average of 21-22mph. We hit some climbs and I found myself leading my pack. Everyone was drafting off of me - no one was offering to take the lead, so I kept motoring along.

We maintained this effort for another 15 miles or so, at which point we hit the first "feed station" (water, gatorade, bananas, and restrooms). Most of the pack that was latched to my back wheel stopped at the feed station, but I kept going. Little did I realize that another 5-6 miles ahead awaited the first of three seriously monstrous hills.

I hit the first hill, which was a 15% grade and I wanted to cry. Talk about a steep climb... it took me almost 5-minutes to reach the top of that hill, cranking and pedaling as hard as I could the entire time, at an average speed of less than 5mph. Ugh!

The descent from that climb was unreal - my speedometer hit 44mph on the way down. And then, after a short right turn, it was back up the hill again. Nice. I continued this "up-down-up-down" route until about the 45-mile mark, at which point I knew the end was near.

Just as I was approaching the final hill, some guy directly in front of me screamed loudly and promptly tipped over in the middle of the road. I looked behind me - there was no one around. Since we were on a busy highway, I figured I should stop to help the guy. I had no idea what was wrong - all he said was "I can't move." (he said this over and over)

I picked-up his bike, put it in the weeds, and then dragged him over to the side of the road. He couldn't move either of his legs - he was cramping something fierce. I went back to my bike, got some GU (an energy gel with electrolytes), and gave it to him. I told him I was going to take off, and he was screaming about his legs being locked. I'm no masseuse, and I'm certainly no doctor, so I wasn't sure what else to do. I think he wanted me to sit with him, but I had already lost several minutes and several riders flew by us...

I got onto my bike and raced up the last hill, down the road, and 4 miles later, was at the finish line. My time for the 50-mile race was 2 hours, 35 minutes. I lost at least 9 minutes helping that guy... argh.

I was pretty surprised by the time - I averaged 19.0mph for the entire ride, which was really good. The race organizer had a food tent, which I stopped to check-out, but ultimately didn't eat anything from. Here I am, at the finish line, just outside of the food tent:


Here's my bike, back at the car - even though it looks clean, it was filthy from the damp roads:


I packed away my bike, and then went back to the finish line/expo area to wait for some folks that I knew from the Capital Brewery cycling club to finish. I browsed around the expo, had some water, and then almost had a heart attack when I heard my name being called to the podium - our Capital Brewery team had finished 3rd overall. I scored a hat and some mugs as part of the prize package:


According to the preliminary results, I (personally) had finished 87th overall (out of 797 riders). Thanks to that cramping dude, I lost 9 spots to people in my age group, so I placed 14th out of 25 people in my age group... if I hadn't stopped, I would've been 5th. Oh well.

My friends finished the race and we all headed over to Capital Brewery for a celebration - we had some pizza and a few beverages, which were incredibly tasty, especially with the mercury pointing well into the 90s. While at the brewery, I spied this awesome bumper sticker:


And that's how my weekend ended. I wasn't able to jump any more on Sunday - it was 4:00pm by the time I left the brewery, and I had a lawn that needed to be mowed, cats that needed to be fed, and food that needed to be grilled.

I did manage to jump again today - thanks to some better weather and a smoother exit from the airplane, I successfully completed my first PPCP. I also packed a parachute from start-to-finish, which was nerve-wracking, but fun and informative. I have to complete two more PPCP jumps and then I'll be cleared to pull my own pilot chute for subsequent jumps. I'll also move to higher altitudes, which allows for a longer freefall. I can't wait!

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on August 10, 2011 9:42 PM.

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