2017 Wampoo Roadeo Recap
As most of you know, I have not been able to run lately due to a hamstring tendon injury and have recently taken up cycling. My first ride was during Memorial Day weekend and I've been working to become more familiar/comfortable since then, with the exception of a week of rest post-PRP injection.
When I mentioned to a running and cycling friend that "I'd really like to learn how to ride with a group," he responded, "well, you'd better go out and ride with a group." That has proven to be very useful advice. As intimidating as it first seemed, especially since I am very comfortable as a solo runner, riding with others has proven helpful in many ways.
Thanks to a cycling group with whom the aforementioned friend connected me, I heard about a local event that benefits the Marilyn Fulper Memorial Fund, called Wampoo Roadeo (what a name, right?), with route options for riding 45K, 65K and 100K. Marilyn Fulper was an active bicycling advocate who was killed in 2010 after she was struck by an automobile when the driver ran a red light; the fund supports projects along the Arkansas River Trail and provides helmets for children who receive free bicycles from Recycle Bikes for Kids.
Even though the event would fall just three weeks after my PRP injection, and my longest ride had only been about 30 miles, I really wanted to give the 65K a try; I miss racing and I thought this would be a fun adventure. They also advertise free handcrafted ice cream at the finish, so...count me in. Bib pickup was available the night before, at Core Brewing Public House in North Little Rock, and it was super easy to get in and out; registration and bib pickup were also available on the morning of the event.
Earlier in the week, the forecast showed a chance of rain on Saturday morning but, thankfully, there were no raindrops at the start; the skies were fairly cloudy and overcast, perfect for a long ride. One thing I hadn't considered was the wind, which really kicked in after about the first ten miles; in addition, while a flat course is great for running, cycling a flat course means more pedaling and no breaks.
One of the things I love about cycling events are the aid stations; they remind me more of the aid stations one would find during trail races/runs than those of road running events. People actually stop, hang out for a minute and catch their breath, maybe grab a snack (or four) and then head back out. The first aid station appeared just before the 19 mile mark and I was ready for some fuel; one of these days, I'm sure I'll feel comfortable taking in nutrition on the bike but I'm not there just yet.
During my stop, I recognized a familiar face; my Hot Legs Run for Fun friend Kate walked over to give me a hug and it was so great to see her. Kate is an experienced road cyclist and mountain bike enthusiast, with all the bruises to prove it; the fact that we share a love of running had me feeling like I'd found one of my people.
Kate hit the course again with her group, Arkansas Heels on Wheels, shortly after I arrived at the aid station, but I caught up with her again at the next one; this was around 26 miles into a 40 mile ride, the wind had picked up significantly, and I told her that I'd love to try to keep up with their group. They welcomed me right in and it was so nice to have their support!
Similar to running with a friend, riding with other cyclists not only helps the miles tick off very quickly but there's also this concept of drafting; I'm sure many of you are familiar with this, but experiencing it is pretty magical. In running terms, imagine being able to get behind someone who is running at your goal race pace and having them assist you in moving forward at that pace so that you feel like you are putting in much less effort than you really are; wouldn't that be great? That's kind of what drafting is like, to me; I can ride at a pace that is about 5+ miles per hour quicker than I'd be capable of riding on my own.
The group stopped once more, briefly, at the last aid station for our 65K route; I met a gal that I've been following via social media, which is always really fun (she's hosting a local fitness camp for women that is super exciting!), and then we took off again.
Sure enough, we found the Loblolly Creamery ice cream truck at the finish; there were some delicious-sounding options available, and I chose the Cherry Limeade Sorbet. It was delicious!
This was such a fun event, and a great way for me to gain a little more experience riding with lots of other cyclists; I'll definitely do this one again next year and I'm certainly looking for more opportunities to ride. Up next, unless something else comes along between now and then, will be the 50 mile option at the Big Dam Bridge 100 on September 23 and I can hardly wait.