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Carolina Tarwheels' Hillsborough BikeFest 2008 Inline Skate Bike Ride Report (13th Rural Heritage Tour)

skatey-mark's picture
I know it's been a while since I've done any trip reports, and I'm blaming my new job on that!  :-)  It's easy to make time to write when you hate your job and are looking for any excuse to procrastinate.  But I actually like my job now, and care about the product I'm working on.  So the extra hours I had during the day to write have pretty much evaporated.  But I'm sitting on a plane right now, so it's a good opportunity to do some writing.

Anyway, I skated in BikeFest a couple weeks ago.  Unlike previous years, I was by myself this time.  It just worked out that way.  Not a big deal...  The cyclists are fairly used to at least a few skaters showing up, and with 800 of them on the road, I wasn't worried about traffic on the route.  Any vehicles would see the other cyclists before they got to me, and would know something "official" was going on.

My only real concern was I didn't want to be the last person to finish.  So I did contemplate doing the shorter 30-mile route instead of the 63 mile route.  (The 100 mile route was out of the question.)  I haven't really been putting in the miles this year like I normally do -- prior to BikeFest, the furthest I had skated this year was 40 miles I think.  Still, with A2A coming up I felt I needed to start getting "real miles" in, and settled on the 63-mile route.

Parking, & packet pickup was pretty smooth.  I had a little extra time before the start, so was just hanging out with the cyclists.  I chatted with some of them, and got the usual questions -- "How far are you going?"  "No - really, how far are you going?"  :-)  "where did you get your skates", etc, etc...  I probably answered the same 3 or 4 questions a dozen or more times that day...  But that's okay.  I had a good conversation with one cyclist during the skate and we talked about vehicles respecting bikes versus skaters (which they don't really respect either very well) and other similar topics.

All the cyclists I met that day were great!  It reminded me a lot of Tour to Tanglewood, and I got similar praise when passing (or being passed by) cyclists.  Shouts of "you're awesome!" or "looking good!" or "there is no way I could do that!" were pretty common.  If you've done Tour to Tanglewood before, you know what I'm talking about.  And if you haven't done TTT -- SIGN UP NOW!!!   ;-)  It's a huge ego boost, if nothing else.

Anyway, we finally started out of town and I was being pretty conservative in my efforts.  I wanted to make sure I finished, of course -- sagging is not an option for me...  So I cruised along, content to let the bikes pass.  I didn't even make much of an effort to draft, although I did keep pace with one guy for a while.  I nicknamed him "dorky socks" because he had these calf-high, white cotton socks on...  :-)  He'd pull away every now and then, but I'd eventually catch up.

After 45 minutes or so, I started getting in the zone and picked up the pace a bit.  Now I was ready to start drafting some bikes, so when one passed me, I'd try to accelerate into the draft if he/she wasn't going too much faster.  This sped up my pace considerably!  Just before the 20-mile mark, I started drafting a guy and we were making great time.  Now I was feeling really, good, zooming on the flats over 20 mph.  This is what skating is all about!  :-)  The Great Eddy Matzger comes to mind, when he said "drafting is heaven, heaven is drafting..."

The first rest stop is at 25 miles, and I drafted that guy all the way in.  I ended up averaging 16 mph on that first leg -- not bad at all!!!  We chatted along the way too, it wasn't all hammering.  But we parted ways at the rest stop and I didn't see him the rest of the day.  But I did get a pleasant surprise at the rest stop -- TSC'er Rosie was there!  Apparently, she tried to sign up for the event (to ride in, not skate), but it was full.  So she volunteered at the rest stop instead!  VERY COOL!!!  Not many people would do that!  I also saw another TSC'er, Jay, there who was on a bike as well.  (Gotta get you back on your skates Jay!!!)

So I chatted with Rosie a bit, and some other curious cyclists.  This was a recurring theme during the day.  Normally, I wouldn't spend as much time at the rest stops, but when you're in the minority at an event, I think it's good to be an "ambassador" for your sport.  So I chatted and answered the usual questions until I could break away and resume my skate.

Back on the road, the 30 and 63 mile routes split shortly after the rest stop.  Now I was committed (more or less) to the 63 miles.  Somewhat cruelly, the course seemed to get much hillier after the split!  I also found it more difficult to find suitable drafts, so I was skating by myself more and more.  I never felt alone, as there was almost always another cyclist in sight.  People passed me that I had seen earlier on the course (they probably stayed at the rest stop longer than I did.)  Everyone was super friendly and supportive.  I think they get some motivation from seeing a skater do the same course, too...  Since they consider it to be more difficult to skate it, they figure they can keep going.  I try to tell them that it's easier for me to skate it than bike it, but they don't really believe me...

The 2nd rest stop was at 45 miles, and I made it there a little slower than the first, averaging just under 15 mph.  Still not a bad pace considering I was doing less drafting.  However, I was starting to get tired now.  I had skated as far as I had all year, and still had almost 20 miles left to go...  But the rest stop was well stocked, and there was lots of friendly conversation to lift your spirits.  So I didn't really notice *too* much.  I saw Jay again, as well as many of the cyclists that had passed me one or more times.  More chatting and questions...  PB&J, brownies, bananas...  I don't remember how well the rest stops were stocked in the past, but they were AWESOME this year!  Major Props go out to all the people that organized & worked the rest stops!!!

I hit the road for the final leg of my journey...  There was a third rest stop maybe 5 miles up the road, but I skipped that one.  I figured the routes must have merged back together or something, because normally they wouldn't have rest stops that close together.  Anyway, I kept going and by now I noticed that my left shin and ankle were really fatigued.  I was having to concentrate on every set-down to make sure I wasn't pronating.

That just goes to show that training for long-distance events is more than just training your big leg muscles.  It's also about training all the little stabilizing muscles and conditioning your feet to be able to stand on your skates for hours on end.  You just can't get that without putting the time & miles in on the road.  I'm in better shape this year than ever, from all my time at the gym, but my skating isn't as strong because I haven't been putting in the miles.

By the way, the road conditions for BikeFest were okay...  There was a lot of smooth road, which was awesome.  But there were also some significant stretches of gatorback that really wore on you after a while.  I'm sure that was a major contributor to the fatigue in my left shin & ankle.  But, you just grit your teeth and tough it out, hoping smooth pavement lies beyond the next turn...

I didn't have a GPS on me, so I never was sure about how far I had to go.  And I was pretty much ready for it to be over!  Fortunately, passing cyclists were more than happy to answer my question about the mileage...  :-)  So I was able to keep track that way, and to pace myself accordingly.  As I got closer to the end, one even mentioned that I only had 2 climbs left to do, which was definitely a relief.  Not long after that, the route did seem to look familiar and soon I was making the final climb into Hillsborough - only a couple miles from the finish.

I finally did finish, averaging a little under 14 mph on the last leg and I think 13 mph overall (including stops.)  I saw Jay at the finish and chatted with him a bit, as well as some other cyclists that I had seen on the road and at the other rest stops.  But I didn't linger too long this time, eager to get out of my skates and get some real food in my stomach.

So, despite being the only skater, I had a really good time that day.  A lot of thanks go out to the organizers of this event, because they really do a great job and they've been supportive of us skaters participating in it.  More thanks to the cyclists -- this is definitely the friendliest cycling event I've done outside of TTT (and the TTT training rides).  I'd say it was right on par with TTT, in fact.  I certainly wouldn't complain if the amount of gatorback was reduced, but that won't stop me from doing it again in the future.

Hope to see you all there next year!

- SM -


Orange County Courthouse
106 East Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, North Carolina
United States
36° 4' 28.2432" N, 79° 5' 57.084" W


Nice Work

I checked out the pictures on the web page and did find some with a lonely skater in it. That must be you. Have you ever done the 100 miles? That sounds like the ultimate skate. http://www.tarwheels.org/clubportal/EventPhotosViewer.cfm?clubID=1660&St...
skatey-mark's picture

Yep - that's me... Hard to

Yep - that's me... Hard to miss the green RSN jersey! Dave Wyso & I did the 100-mile route a couple years ago. THAT was a seriously hard skate! There was this one stretch of gatorback that I swore was never going to end. We even contemplated turning around at one point, but kept pushing on. I think it was on that stretch that I ran out of water also, but we got to the rest stop within 15 or 20 minutes I think, so it wasn't a huge deal. (I think Dave had some extra water still, too that he may have shared -- hard to remember that far back.) That stretch of gatorback reminds me of the year I drafted off you at Tanglewood on that never-ending stretch of bad road... We made pretty good time that day, but vowed never to do the 100-mile route again... :) - SM -
roadskater's picture

Great Hillsborough BikeFest Report

Sorry we couldn't quite make it that day. We came close but it sounds like for this one we really need to sign up in advance. Glad Rosey was there too and looking forward to having her on our team at the Tour to Tanglewood. This was a really fun report to read, skateymark. I could imagine the scenes and how the day went from your words. Funny how we notice socks or jerseys or helmets or whatever when we are skating along in a trance or stupor or adrenaline rush or whatever it happens to be that moment of that day. It's great to hear how positive everyone was. When some of us did the BikeFest several years ago, we were treated very well indeed. Let's see if we can remember it in time to sign up next year...but of course the T2T training rides are tough competition, being free, and wanting to be able to take photos of the people that do that event.

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