2021 City to Shore Ride September 25, 2021
It was a huge relief when COVID didn't cancel the City to Shore for a second year in a row. I'd had such a good time riding it in 2019 that I had planned to ride it in 2020 with Lynn until fate intervened. I had my fingers crossed that we wouldn't have another ill-timed shutdown or state mandate, or that the weather wouldn't intervene, but everything ended up going perfectly.
I'd ridden most of 2019's course alone, only tagging along with a group of strangers for about 20 miles near the middle of the course. This year, Lynn joined me along with four other URBN coworkers to form a proper team. Four of the six rode the century course, trading off the lead to give the others a break. We averaged a respectable 16.5 MPH, and finished in just over 6 hours of moving time.
Lynn and I got out front of the group before the first rest stop, mostly to warm up, and got into a group that missed a turn. When I looked around, there weren't any MS signs anymore, and no riders in front or behind the dozen or so that had blindly followed that mistake. We had to back-track, which added about 3 miles in total to the ride - just enough to bump me over the 100 mile mark by the finish.
The star of the show was really the weather. I don't think I could have ordered a more perfect day for a ride. A little 55 degree chill at the start was replaced by a perfect 65 degrees by the second rest stop (lunch), and topped out at only 75 degrees by the finish. Most importantly, there was almost zero wind... except for the hovering helicopter near the start that almost blew riders off the road.
I rode this year on my new Rolf carbon gravel rims, and my tire choice was decided when I realized that these rims wouldn't fit anything smaller than 34mm. I had a set of Hutchinson Override 38mm gravel tires that had a smooth center line, and after pumping up to 60psi and doing some training rides, I decided that not only were they adequate, they were MUCH more comfortable on less-than-perfect pavement than those rock hard 28mm road tires I'd planned to use. I was also already riding on a gravel bike, so I started thinking of the setup as a "fat road bike". Maybe this will catch on. I don't really think they were any slower - especially since I was running them tubeless.
Lynn usually ran 42mm gravel tires with tread, so she got my 28mm road tires at 90psi. Her bike was also substantially lightened by removing her usual bags, lock, solo riding gear and front fender. As a result, she was a rocket, nearly dropping me once early on, and leading the team on several brisk pulls.
This was the first time several of the group had ridden in a pace line as a team, including Lynn. You would never had known it though, and everyone remarked afterward how much fun it was to ride like that. With our matching jerseys, and tight single-file, you could almost pretend we were a team of pros motoring past the slower riders - "on your left!"
We collectively raised thousands for MS, and had an absolutely awesome time. I can't recommend this event enough, and our plan is to try and grow the URBN team for next year.