GFNY Ann Arbor 2022

photo credit : Ethan Cruz

 photo credit: Ethan Cruz

I signed up for GFNY Ann Arbor hoping to pad my medal total. I currently have 8.5. The .5 is for GFNY NYC 2013. I had to abandon in 2013 at mile 70 due to kidney stones, I’ll save the details of that adventure for another day.

I knew this was going to be a great weekend.  The travel arrangements for Ann Arbor couldn’t have gone better. My buddy Benny offered to drive my bike to Ann Arbor so I wouldn’t have to drag it through the airport. The airline upgraded me to first class and my friend hooked me up with free parking at the airport. I couldn’t ask for better travel arrangements.

I arrived in Ann Arbor around 8 pm and met up with the usual crew and the always entertaining Nelson Vails.#NicestGuyInCycling. We had a  fun night with plans to meet up in the morning for the group ride. Nelson made sure to remind everyone the ride leaves at 9:00. Then looked at Hector and said remember we leave at 9 am.

Saturday morning my phone rang with a # I didn’t recognize. I answered it to find NY Giants Super Bowl Legend Amani Toomer on the other end asking for details about the group ride. After the phone call, I ran around my hotel room screaming like a schoolgirl. How often does a NY Giants legend call you? Amani met us at the ride start. Such a nice guy. He chatted with everyone and took a bunch of pics. Hector arrived at 8:55. Guess who got to the start at 9:01. The one and only Nelson Vails.

The group ride went well overall but was a little faster than planned. Nelson, Ethan, Benny, and I dropped off the back so we could ride at our own pace. I noticed my front tire was a little soft and had to add some air. I had a slow leak. 

After the ride went I by a local shop to check on the tire leak and had to purchase a new tire. The sealant wasn’t sealing a sidewall cut. I should have taken Chris Geisers’ advice and packed a spare tire. Lesson learned.

Saturday night the crew and I went out for a pasta dinner at Casa Dominick’s. Unbeknownst to us, we picked a local college hangout. You placed your order grabbed a table and they announced your name when your food was ready. We embraced the wait and anytime one of our names was called we cheered in celebration.

While waiting for our names to be called, we all discussed our race day plans. My plan was to stay with Hector as long as possible and then suffer the rest of the way. We also discussed how small the field was and that, we all had a chance to place in our perspective age groups, We started guessing other riders’ ages to see if they would be in our age group. It may have given me some false confidence.

Race Day started exactly as planned. Hector and I chased the front group and we were quickly dropped. A minute later Rick B rode by us and said high with 30 riders following him riding 4 across.  Hector and I joined the group. On one of the short climbs, I watched Hector drop off the group. I found out later he had a flat. I now regret not stopping to help my teammate. I think the rest of the day would have been easier if I wasn’t alone.

A few more riders dropped off the group and the pace picked up a little.  It was truly #BeaProForADay. Every short climb someone got dropped. I had to be careful about whose wheel I chose and had to put in multiple max efforts to pass dropping riders that lost contact with the group. Then all of a sudden the group sped up and went from riding 4 across to riding single file I had to push into the line and was now working really hard to keep up after 15 minutes of this I decided I couldn’t keep up and dropped off the group. I found out later the group fell apart a few miles up the road, I probably picked a good time to drop off.

I skipped the first nutrition stop and passed a few riders from the main group filling their water bottles at the nutrition stop. About 10 minutes later they passed me, but I didn’t have the legs to stay with them.

I did my usual math equation at mile 30. The first 30 miles took 90 minutes, I thought if I keep this up and factor in breaks I can finish in around 5 and ½ hours.

I caught the group from the first nutrition stop again at the next nutrition stop when I stopped to fill my water bottles. I left them and pushed on. Lo and behold 10 minutes later they passed me again.

At mile 50 I had to decide if I was riding the 62 or 100. I opted for the 100 and for the next 5 miles I kept thinking I can still turn around and ride the shorter route, but I sucked it up and pushed on.

At mile 60 I stopped at the aid station for a banana and some water. I could barely lift my leg over the bike due to cramps. I managed to get off the bike. Drank some water, stretched, and then pushed on. The group from earlier was again taking advantage of the rest stop. I continued on my way.

Ten minutes later they passed me. This time I was able to stay with them for a few minutes, before getting dropped.

At mile 70 I did the math again I was off the pace, but could still finish under 6 hours.

At mile 80 I grabbed a coke and said hi to my rest-stop friends, leaving them behind again.

The coke gave me a second wind I was still tired, but the cramps weren’t as bad and I pushed on towards the finish. Only 20 miles to go I thought I know I can do this. I just need to average 15 mph to finish at 6 hours 15 minutes.

Again my rest-stop friends passed me with about 10 miles to go. I caught up with them again, this time they were resting on the side of the road maybe 5 miles from the finish. I pushed on and they passed me again a few minutes later.

I pushed on and finished in 6 hours 14 minutes, I was 12th in my age group. My highest place ever. The only problem was there were only 12 in my age group. My medal total is now 9.5, 10X-Medal here I come.

Overall it was a great day topped off by hanging in the Nelson Vails VIP tent chatting about the race.