Sunday, January 31, 2010
Frozen in Fayetteville
Off to Fayetteville this morning for the Club 300 ride (courthouse shown to the right). Pretty chilly when I set out from Houston, but the forecast said it would warm up to the 40s or even 50s during the ride. Fayetteville is about 90 minutes drive, so I assumed I'd see a gradual increase in temperature as I drove. But no - if anything, it got colder, and my car was showing 34 degrees as I parked in the town square.
I had invited David, Susan's sister-in-law's brother (got it?) to be my guest for the ride and we quickly hooked up. David lives outside Austin and is doing the MS150 with the BHP team. He was well prepared for the cold with a variety of fleecy garments and a balaclava. As we saddled up he mentioned that he's already completed two 200km rides this year. He's clearly much better prepared than me, not just in the cycling apparel department.
It was definitely a morning for all the gear. I'd been given a pair of knitted arm warmers as swag when I registered and wasted no time in getting them on. I had also brought along my rubber booties, purchased by Susan before the aborted first day of the 2009 ride (followers of this blog will no doubt remember the footwear in question). I'd never actually used them but how hard can it be, right? They slide over your shoes and zip up at the back, and there are holes in the bottom for your cleat and heel. I picked one up and noted the large letter "L" printed inside - clearly for the left foot, so on it went. The other was obviously the right, but it had an "L" on it too! Bugger, had I been given two lefts? And would it matter anyway? Confusion reigned for a second or two until I realized that the "L" actually meant "Large". Hoping no-one had seen this episode, I pulled the second bootie over my shoe and rolled off to the start.
Quite a small group for the ride this year. One hero was actually wearing cycling shorts without tights, prompting someone to ask him where in North Dakota he came from. There were two routes, both loops - one was 17 miles, the other 28. Everyone rode the 17 mile first and you could choose your poison after that. We set off, with David's bike computer showing 33 degrees. The route took us down some pretty crappy roads, with gravel flying off everyone's tires, but we eventually got onto asphalt and enjoyed some pretty good scenery, at least for Central Texas. A few climbs to deal with but I was doing OK, as was David who was clearly feeling very comfortable. After about ten miles we got separated when my chain jammed up and I had to stop for repairs. Back in Fayetteville, David was tucking into a barbecue sandwich as I arrived. I settled for a bag of cookies and a water bottle top-up and suggested we push ahead on the longer route.
I was starting to flag a bit, due primarily to lack of training, but tried to keep the pace up. A few of the climbs had me in my granny gear and fighting for breath, but I got to the top. We passed another group who were taking a pit stop, but it wasn't long before they caught us. David rode ahead with them for a while, but they turned back for a straggler (who was still ahead of me!) and David came back too. We rode the rest of the way together, the temperature having climbed to a balmy 34 degrees, and headed straight into the shed to get warm and sample some outstanding barbecue from Orsak's Cafe (highly recommended!)
With a belly-full of brisket and all the fixin's, I thanked David for his patience and set out for home. 11 weeks to go to the big ride -