LIVESTRONG 2008: Philly is Hilly!
We got a late start–they delayed our “release” by about 30 minutes. Heather & I got stuck in the 45 mile lot since we arrived a little late. We managed to work our way up to the 70 mile group after they were let loose and the crowd thinned a bit. With 4500 participants, it was standing room only. At one point the announcer stated that the 45 mile route was so hilly it was the equivalent of riding 65 flat miles. I wonder what the 70 was equivalent to, or the 100?
Within the first 20 miles, we observed dozens of flat tires. Over-inflation? Pinched flats? The reason remains unknown, but there were a lot of disabled bikes littering the shoulders of those country roads.
The hills didn’t really start up until 15 miles in. From there they grew in intensity. Several riders dismounted and walked their bikes. Heather pranced forward and around riders like a reindeer through the trees. She never used her granny gear the whole ride. Guess that’s what training in the Berkshires will do for you. I did little prancing, but never dismounted, for which I’m pretty pleased. I trained on hills too, but not like Heather.
As the miles crept up, people slowed their pace. One very fit guy succumbed to heavy cramping and looked miserable laying on his back at the side of the road. I befriended one woman on the ride who I nicknamed “Hill Lady” because she was local and had no trouble getting up those hills. We talked a bit and she knew the course well–so I decided picking her brain would be beneficial in preparing for the next ascent. In talking to her, I learned she had some strong involvement with the LAF and the LIVESTRONG Event, and that Lance himself had ridden the 100 mile course on Saturday. She told me that he said “Are you kidding me? Who knew Pennsylvania had hills?” Validation enough that this charity ride was in fact a “Challenge.”