A civilized 50/50... Sounds funny right?
If you've ever participated in this rowdy New Year’s Day ride, you know that the event follows the law of natural selection. Stay in touch with the group or die. Not comfortable blowing through stoplights in Metro Richmond? Then fall off the back and hope you can catch up. Get a flat somewhere in the first 50 miles of mountain bike, and you are likely to pick up the pieces yourself. Oh, and the pace at the start, it’s pretty damn fast.
Once you’ve got the initial 50 miles out of the way on your fat tire sled, it's time for the 50 road miles. Better hope you can trade paint pulling the train, find a wheel and slum it out in the back, or get left somewhere in your spandex clown suit begging for a sip of malt liquor from a wino’s 40, because you've long since blown through all your food and you have no clue where you are. That’s about how civil the other three 50/50 rides I’ve completed have been. How else can you whittle down the 50 or so eager beavers that gather at 7:00am into the handful of whooping sticks worthy of the metal?
This year there was a noticeably lean start group, several of the usual suspects and surly instigators were not present. Steve Justice and JMAC were nowhere to be seen. For 2015, we had a change of venue from the traditional concrete and JRPS trail jungle of RVA to the much milder and easy going trails of Pocahontas State park. Maybe a change of heart was in the air as well. The mornings MTB session was… well… civil. I called it the Brady Bunch 50/50 because it seemed so wholesome. No one got left behind, and the pace was reasonable. It was very cold. Stopping was not the most enjoyable option, so I routinely busted out pushups to stay warm. Yeah, a kinder and gentler 50/50 start. It was also incredibly slow going, with a comedy of flats, crashes, and other snafu's. The pace was turning the 50/50 into what I'll dub a Metric/Standard. We barely got 50k dispatched on the MTBs but that gave me time to enjoy a can of suds.
I snacked on PBJ refills in my car as I tried to warm up and get motivated for the 50 miles of road. Our crew was a little lighter, with some folks plain MIA (odd for such a tame 50/50), and some folks throwing in the towel, typical 50/50 behavior. Once you get on that road bike and head off with the motley crew, you’re in for a long haul, better hope no one is feeling squirrely on the road! I put on extra leg warmers, stashed lots of food, and a beer in my pocket, and got rolling on my skinny tires.
We had a solid group rolling out the road 50 on a route penned by the ride organizer, Foghorn Leghorn. The inaugural Chesterfield route started with a tour through several busy suburban roads ripe with hung over suburbanites, who were comfortably getting irritated in their warm cars. We missed a turn and tacked on an extra three miles as the ride ventured further into wilds of the county. Plenty of hunting trucks buzzed us and the cheerful sounds of gunfire lined the road. Blaze orange and tap out stickers, like carrots and peas. We rambled through a very high end neighborhood none of us could afford to live in. Oddly, the whole big and excessive housing/castle development had almost no signs of life. We stopped at the main entrance to re-fuel and reload for the final miles back to the cars, and victory.
Our Metric/Standard had a pleasant surprise at the end when we missed a turn and cut out some miles, thus balancing the extra we had gained from our earlier missed turn.
The after party was hosted by another local legend. Hanging out with the men who ruled the day at Church Hill’s Brown residence was a proper way to wind down the first big ride of 2015.
It wasn’t the toughest 50/50 I’ve done, but the Metric/Standard was great fun, even if it was a little wholesome.