Air Force Classic 2011 Crystal Ride
Sunday, June 12th started very early. I got up at 5:30 AM and met a friend at the end of the block to head over the 14th street bridge on the Mt. Vernon trail to participate in the non competitive Crystal Ride. Since Shane was part of “Team Sabre” which is the fundraising team for the ride, he got to start at the Air Force Memorial which was close to the half way mark of the course from Crystal Drive in Crystal City. We wished each other luck and off he went to his starting location and I mine.
It was not so clear how to line up for the ride, but basically there were 2 waves. Wave 1 was for those who received a Gold Metal in a previous event or were VIPs, part of “Team Sabre.” Apparently that wave seemed to start from the Air Force Memorial since there was no division in Crystal City. Once the serious riders lined up, I lined up with some others I was chatting with who were also first timers and watched the minutes tick down until the 7:30 AM start. Recently the weather has been pretty hot in DC so it was good the ride was in the AM.
The course is approximately 12.5 KM starting in Crystal City and looping around the Air Force Memorial. There were a few hairpin turns on the leg over, but as the ride progressed, the 1500 participants spread out a bit.
Everyone has their own goal of course, but the idea behind this ride was to ride as many laps as you can in the 3.5 hour time allotment and earn medals dependent on the number of laps completed.
- 1-3 Laps Bronze
- 4-7 Laps Silver
- 8 Laps Gold
The time arrived and off we went. I have to tell you I was so excited as I received emails the week before as I registered back in March. While you hope you don’t have any bike problems, you do expect there to be some flat tires along the way and this ride was no different. As more laps were completed, the number of riders diminished as did the upside down bikes getting new tubes. I only saw one scary situation which required emergency medical assistance. Others just stopped early. Perhaps they met their goal, not feeling well, or body just said “Not that hill again!.” (The hill up to the Air Force Memorial seemed to take me longer each time I climbed it. The 8th time up I was going less than 10 MPH! Got to love gravity! 🙂
Lap 1 Complete
Since it was a bit slow getting going it took just over 30 minutes to make one lap of the course. Lap 2 I think only took 20 minutes. I am hoping to get the results later today or tomorrow to see how my laps did. I do know my average speed was dropping on my last lap.
Time is running out Lap 8…
So I was not really sure what lap I was on. The “Laps to Go” was counting up! I assumed that meant laps completed, so when I crossed the start line at 7 laps with about 25 minutes to go I thought…”This is it, Gold in sight!” As I approached “the hill” I was a bit worried about my time. I was not sure I was going to be able to make it back to the start/finish line before 11 AM. With only 5 minutes to go, I checked my mileage and still had a few miles. I pushed as hard as I could! 10:59 came around and I was trying to remember how many more turns before the finish line. At this point I was a bit shaky in my legs. Eleven am arrived….I thought if I could make it before it was 11:01 I would be golden. That time came, but I did not give up. I was so close now and not going to admit defeat!
11:05 AM Course Exit
I was not sure if I had completed 8 laps or not, all I knew was that we all had to exit the course as more events were coming up. I snagged one more bottle of water from the volunteers who were skilled at delivery while you were biking by which was cool. I only missed a bottle one time.
I walked around the vendors at the finish line to get my medal. They asked me how many laps I did? Hmm…I was not quite sure but thought I did 8 laps. Apparently if you did less than 8 they believed you and you received the medal from the staff there. They sent me over to a tent where staff were checking the computers and the timing chips we were all wearing to see how many laps we completed.
I was so excited when I was told I earned a Gold Medal. Granted this was not competitive, but it was the longest continuous ride I have ever gone on. Sadly I use my bike for transportation to cut costs and travel time. The reason I started biking and gave up the free shuttle bus was because the bus route was changed increasing 5-10 minutes travel time.
My longest trip was about 20 miles. I did make it to Mt. Vernon with a friend, but we stopped to eat and check out the grounds for a few hours before getting back on the trail and biking back.
A few weeks back I marshaled Bike DC which was about 20 miles. I took that at a more leisure pace as we were stopping to help riders in need change flats, etc.
The Day After
I took the free shuttle bus to work today since my knees seemed to not like the ride that much. That probably means I need to be sure my bike is properly adjusted to prevent issues down the road, especially if I enter more long rides. Short commutes do not seem to bother my knees.
My Unofficial Stats
- Start Time: 7:30 AM (Crossed start line by 7:33)
- End Time : 11:35 AM
- Average Speed*: 17.9 MPH
- Top Speed*: ~35 MPH (Somehow I cleared my data at the end 🙁 )
- Distance*: ~ 63 Miles or 100 KM
*(According to my bike computer)
Official Stats are in!
Top view sports was kind enough to give me my lap times 🙂 The data showed 9 laps total with 3:51 for the one, so I added them together for lap 1.
- 7:33 AM – 7:58 AM ~25 minutes
- 7:58 AM – 8:23 AM 24:49 minutes
- 8:23 AM – 8:49 AM 25:48 minutes
- 8:49 AM – 9:14 AM 25:34 minutes
- 9:14 AM – 9:44 AM 29:46 minutes
- 9:44 AM – 10:10 AM 25:54 minutes
- 10:10 AM – 10:37 AM 27 minutes
- 10:37 AM – 11:04 AM 27:50 minutes