Thanks to everyone who helped make BUMP's 5th Annual Ironworks Century at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park such a success this past Saturday. With the move to the new date, mid-season in the Alabama Backroads Century Series, we saw a huge increase in ridership. By my semi-official count we had 189 registrants, about DOUBLE last year's crowd! Not everyone who was registered got to ride (including me, alas), but about 180 riders rolled out from Tannehill to tackle the offered routes of 44, 66, 78 and 100 miles, and at the end of the day 98 of 'em took home Centurion medals! The next ABCS medal-earning opportunity, by the way, will be the Birmingham Bicycle Club’s 41st Annual Century, up in Ashville on 9/6/14.
The big crowd caused unaccustomed lines for rider sign-in, but our hard-working registration crew rose to the occasion and took care of everyone with time to spare before the scheduled 8:00 AM mass start. Well, it was more like 8:02 by the time I launched into my pre-ride safety spiel, but the important thing is that we got the pack rolling before the Baby Steps 5K runners came down the road at us (it was a very busy morning at the park).
While my century organizing co-conspirator Rick Hawkins ran the show from Tannehill, coordinating sag support, rest stop workers & supplies, I spent the day driving sag and making re-supply runs, as our unexpectedly numerous riders hit the rest stops like a swarm of two-wheeled locusts. By the time I worked my way down to Montevallo, where my wife Charlotte was running the stop at Eclipse Coffee & Books with her crack crew of U of Montevallo professors, they were in the thick of it and I was immediately put to work re-filling coolers. The 78 & 100 milers (the latter stopped there twice) were some thirsty gals and fellas, and they drained those coolers just as fast as I could swap 'em out with full ones. The crowd kept Charlotte so busy that according to her Fitbit step counter, she walked 3 miles just going back and forth between the Eclipse kitchen and porch - no rest for the rest stop volunteers! Similar scenes played out at the Helena rest stop, but things had calmed down by the time I visited the last stop, near Green Pond (where BUMP was assisted by volunteers from the American Diabetes Association – note the Tour de Cure will be back in Montevallo 6/6/15).
The mid-day heat took its toll on folks, leading some to linger long on the porch at Eclipse (we call it "homesteading”) before starting their journey back to Tannehill. Relief from the heat arrived in the afternoon in the form of cloud cover and occasional rain showers - some of 'em briefly heavy, but a turn in the weather welcomed by the riders. A few riders caught sag rides back to the park, but without those showers it is likely more would have had to get sagged in. As it turned out, though, the riders going the full distance late in the day seemed relatively cool, calm and collected as they arrived back at Tannehill.
That the riders stayed in such good shape was in no small part thanks to the efforts of our rest stop volunteers, who kept everyone supplied not just with water and Gatorade but also with PB&J for fuel, pickles (and shots of brine) for extra electrolytes, ice-water soaked towels for cool-down and whatever else they needed, all with a side of friendly encouragement. I didn't hear about any accidents out on the course with results more serious than minor road rash (which is bad enough), though I did see one gal who got a big ol' goose egg on her knee after getting back to the park safely, when she then took a spill while crossing a wooden footbridge.
In closing, thanks again to all who made this
event the success it was - to all our volunteers (Rick has already posted a list), to Bike Link for
sponsoring the Centurion medals, to BL, Cahaba Cycles, Bob's Bikes and the BBC
shop for providing sag support, and, of course, to all the riders who chose to
spend their day with us. Thanks to you all for making this such an
enjoyable event, and for helping BUMP make a nice chunk of change to put toward
trail work at Tannehill.
- Doug Daughhetee