Gonna be late. Out of bed. Jump in clothes. Get in minivan. So glad I packed the bike and the van the night before. Oops! Get out and get cue sheets from computer. Get back in. Drive. The ride starts at 5:00 and it's an hour's drive away. Drive faster. A little faster.
I arrived at 5:15. Most of the 40 something riders were on their way and the last one or two were setting out.
At the start, Chris N. (from NJ) Ron A., Paul S. and Joe K., checked me in. We tossed around greetings and a few jokes as I did the paperwork. To my surprise, despite the delay and the early hour, I was awake, alert, ready to ride, with none of the typical early start grogginess. Maybe waking up "naturally" helped, even if it made me late.
This ride I planned to go back to basics: even pacing, consistent fueling, minimal times at controles. I even went back to using a heart rate monitor as a method to control pacing. I haven't used one in years. But this is the year I plan to ride PBP. This is a year to do the training that works. So far, I've been working on components of fitness, but the long ride, the thing that is this sport, that has not been the focus. The time has come to focus.
The pre-riders reported the course to be flat and capable of fast times. They had finished the 187 miles before sunset. Maybe, with a good plan, I could too - despite the late start.