Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sweet Corn Challenge recap

This past Sunday was one of the larger rides in Northeast Ohio.  It is called the Sweet Corn Challenge and is located in the high hills of Summit County.  The ride consists of a 25, 50, and 100 mile options.  It is hosted by Eddy's Bike Shop and is easily the most well run bike tour in the area.  I was especially excited for this year as I was riding with my buddy Kent as well as new friends @Matty_083, @heatha262, @jamursch, @RunrJenRN,  and @Bliedmar.

I was especially nervous on this ride for several reasons.  This is one of the harder rides in our area and it was a new route, so I was worried that it would be harder than how I had described.  Also, we were crunched on time as several had places they needed to be and my buddy was getting off work just before we were to leave.  Also, add to the fact I did a 15 mile run /15 mile ride brick the day before and went to a winery with my sis the night before.  I was sporting quite hangover as my sis and I powered through 3 bottles of wine and I didn't get much sleep the night before as I was trying to re-hydrate as much as possible.

The plan all along was to have an easy ride.  This was a great plan as the route doesn't exactly fit my riding style.  Plus, I have a hard time finding people to ride with.  Its partly from my bragging on my blog or from friends, but I have a reputation as hammering 24/7 and people think they will have to hammer too if they ride with me.  So I was looking forward to a nice and relaxing ride.  Well, it didn't exactly turn out that way.

I arrived a little early to the ride and hit the registration area.  Eddy's does an excellent job with parking and there is a small army of volunteers there to help you find a spot.  The plan was to gather around 8 with my friend arriving around 8:15.  I met up with Matt first and it was great to finally get to ride with him as he is a local triathlete who is training for the Ironman in Sandusky.  Next to join the party was Heather and her husband Jay.  I recently had the pleasure of riding a portion of the Ice Cream Odyssey with them and was looking forward to seeing their brand new road bikes.  Shortly after they arrived, Jen and her husband arrived.  They made the trip up from Cincinnati.  They used to live in Hudson and Sweet Corn was their favorite ride.  8:15 quickly came and then 8:20.  We were still waiting on one more.  Most the group was already time crunched and decided to get the route started and the remaining three of us would catch up.  I bet if Matt had to do it over again, he would have left with the first group.  My buddy finally arrived around 9, so we were roughly 40 minutes behind everyone.  I really didn't think we would catch everyone and I was ready for a nice ride.  Boy, I was wrong.

As the three of us hit the road.  A pace was discussed and I decided to take the first turn as it was mostly flat and down for a couple miles.  Now, I swear I did not mean to hammer.  But I started us off in the mid 20's.  About 5 minutes in a random rider passed me and I decided to grab the wheel and let him do the work for awhile.  I didn't know this person and would have let him go if I knew how much of a pain he would be.  Within a mile this mystery rider gave up the pace and I decided it was time for us to drop him.  He ended up 4th in line drafting off my buddy and must have done something as he really irritated my buddy.  As we approached the first climb, my buddy took off like a rocket to follow in the slipstream with Matt and I in tow.  Surprisingly we were climbing Tour De France style at a speed over 20 mph.  So much for taking it easy.  The sufferfest continued as we eclipsed the first 20 miles in just under 31 minutes!

The next part of the ride was fairly similar as we kept climbing hill after hill.  Unfortunately, these hills were a bit steep for the pace we were setting and I was dropping off the back.  I was then aggressive on the short descents, feeling like Mark Cavendish trying to keep touch with the peloton.  I was keeping them in sight and catching them before the next climb.  Only to get dropped again.  We skipped the first rest stop as we all had plenty of fluids on board and were feeling too good to stop.  The route continued to climb around Hinckley and around Bath.  We arrived at the second stop and quickly refueled before heading back out.

After this stop it was a quick loop through CVNP, which is basically 5 minutes from my house and where I train 90% of the time.  I took pacing duties again on Riverview Rd led us out of the valley on Major Rd.  Then continued to climb through Richfield to the final rest stop.  At this point we were 10 miles from the finish.  They brought us back up route 21, which is a steady climb.   Kent and Matt were pulling away as I struggled to find my legs after that last stop.  I will not use any excuses, but one of them was using a granny gear.  Which I think is a form of cheating.  Lol.  Anyways, if it wasn't for them catching a few stop lights.  I would have been dropped for sure.  When we reached the top.  I miraculously got a second wind and headed back down hill setting a decent pace again.  We finally caught up with Jen and her husband at this point and I hopped in front to pace everyone to the finish.  Well, I must have been feeling better than I thought as they were gone by the next turn.  I decided to run with it.  Figuring I would get caught at the next climb.  I knew where I was and at this point the route was getting long.  Someone at Eddy's had one last surprise for us as the route had one final turn into a massive wall of a hill.  It hit it with good speed and tried not to run someone over as riders were diving off bikes left and right.  By the time I had crested, Kent had caught up to me and I paced him up the false flat to the finish.  At this point I was trying to make it in under 3 hrs and hammered the last two miles to come up 3 minutes short.

So, we all road really well and everyone survived the Sweet Corn Challenge.  My times was 3:03:37 with an average speed of 17.4 mph.  I still can't believe we went that fast on those hills.  A good time for sure.  Sweet Corn Challenge is an excellent event and definitely is a challenge.  I recommend everyone attempts it as it is a good experience.  Like I always say...Summer ain't Summer unless you do Sweet Corn.

Check out Heather's recap here:  Heather

Check out Matt's recap here:  Matt O



Matty O said...

haha love this! Yes, I have the granny gear :) AND YES, if it comes down to it, I WILL USE IT! I did use it on the last hill, holy moly I have never had a vertical line show up on my elevation profile before haha.

There were a few points that I wish I went with the other group! I am not that strong on flats I guess.

And you set the first pace for the day haha. Must have been the adrenaline!

Thanks again for getting us all together! It was honestly one of the best rides I have done in awhile!!! Well, that and my quads are still sore ;)

Heather said...

I was sore until Tuesday night from this ride!! You're a beast, Mr. Beal - so impressive! My goal is to be able to ride with you next year (and actually keep up!). :)

Colleen said...

So many people did this... guess we'll have to add it to our "must do" list next year! :)

Caratunk Girl said...

Wow this sounds so cool!! I wish we had something similar in Maine! Nice work. I want to be like you when I grow up.

Brenda Greathouse said...

Nice write up on the Sweetcorn. Love this ride. Just a heads up! the presenting sponsor is Eddy's Bike Shop but the actual organization putting this ride together is the Richfield Chamber of Commerce under the stellar direction of Sue Serdinak. This ride is a major fundraiser for the chamber that furthers restoration and historic projects in Richfield. The 2016 Sweetcorn Challenge is July 24.