This weekend I rode in the 2014 Miles of Smiles, a local century ride with a focus on raising awareness and funds for St. Jude. This event is very important to our local cycling community. The event offers three distances for cyclist to choose from. This years options were 28, 69, and 103 miles, which offered a variety for people to choose. The event raised over $10,000 dollars for the cause this year, making the great ride that much better!
I had a great ride, and surprised myself with a 2nd place overall finish among those who chose to do the 103 mile distance. My time for the century was 4 hours 53 minutes, and an overall time of 5 hours 3 minutes for the 103 mile course resulting in an average speed of 20.37 mph. As the ride started we rolled away from town and I settled into the lead group of about 20 riders.
Around mile 40 the group I was in splintered into two when some decided to stop at a rest stop for water and short break. I opted to skip the stop in favor of sticking with the lead group, as I felt good.
The lead group I stuck with consisted of about eight people, which still allowed me to take in the scenery and enjoy the route in between pulls at the front. The secondary country roads provided a great setting for the morning. A mixture of twists, rolling hills, a touch of gravel, and lots of straights kept things fresh and interesting.
The course was marked well and allowed for easy navigation of all the distances.
The course offered plenty of rest stops with water and food.
As we continued on two riders were able to get away at mile 75 and after several group and solo attempts, no one was able to bridge the gap they had opened. About ten miles later, one of the two riders from the break was absorbed back into the group I was in.
At around mile 90 our group entered the last rest stop of the day. After resting for about 5 minutes, I joined one other rider from our group and set off without the rest of the group. We worked together until eight miles to go and he decided to back off a bit leaving me in second overall. With eight miles to go, I put myself in a hurt box and kept my concentration on my Garmin and heart rate monitor. I did my best to keep my heart rate at 90% of max and watched the miles tick off. The result when I rolled through the finish line was a second place overall, a much improved century personal record time, and an overwhelming feeling of happiness.
The event was great both during and after the ride. There was a great selection of food, good beer, clean restrooms, plenty of shaded seating, and great people. This was made possible by a collection of key organizers and great sponsors!