Sunday, January 29, 2012
It was in the mid-40s at the start so I was wearing leg and arm warmers with my Mules jersey. This was a good choice, I was comfortable all the way round, if a bit chilled in the shade. A big group was in attendance including a couple of new faces. It was good to see Mike again - he looks in great shape (he's built like a racing snake anyway) and had been riding a lot around Preston in the North of the UK where he lives now.
We split into two groups pretty much from the start, with Adam leading a slower group including Marian and Heather. They started in front of the rest of us but we soon caught them. I was tempted to drop in with them but decided to man up and see how long I could stay with the Big Dogs.
The pace was pretty hot, with Mike doing the initial work, looking comfortable on a borrowed bike. I was there or thereabouts but not exactly cruising. Jorge was the same or perhaps a little worse. At the 15 mile mark he had dropped back with Paddy, so I joined them at the back, glad to slow the pace a little. Mike held back too and the four of us formed an autobus. We turned into the wind and I took point for a while, feeling pretty strong. Mike and Paddy took over and ramped up the pace quite a bit. I was OK but Jorge was not, so as there were only a few miles to the break I sent them ahead and dropped back.
We regrouped at the Exxon. Adam's group had taken a shorter route and were in ahead of us. Paddy wanted to ride as a group to Waller, then split into speed groups.
The wind always bites pretty hard on the first section and today was no exception. I was able to stay near the front of the group most of the way to Waller but when the Speedsters put the hammer down I had no response and watched them pedal off into the distance. The other groups were far behind so I had to grind it out on my own, head down and teeth gritted into the wind. I felt pretty strong and kept a good pace all the way back, arriving at Zube a few minutes ahead of the other group. Poor Jorge had also dropped off the back of the fast group, but had been caught and subsequently dropped by the second pack. He rolled in a few minutes later, looking tired, but glad he'd come out with the gang.
We sat around drinking beer and wine and exchanging the usual banter. In my t-shirt I was actually colder sitting with the group than when I was riding! Back home in my nice warm car to enjoy the beautiful (if windy) weather.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Last Sunday was the Frostbike 50 ride, a charity event out of Cy-Fair that supports the local high school's drill team. The weather forecast looked decent enough and Jorge was in, so we planned to try the 55 mile route. Our plans changed a bit! Jorge was supposed to pick me up at 6.40am, but messaged me at 6.15am to say that he'd been out until 3am and wasn't going to make it. Oh well, off on my own then. Paddy had already arrived when I got to the start and was setting up the stable. I picked up my new, hot pink and black shirt and got organised. The temperature was still pretty comfortable, skies were overcast and the wind was already whistling. The Mules gathered and moved to the start, but I got separated from the pack and found myself beside Kathy, a friend of the Mules who was demo'ing a very nice Trek Madone. The Marshals started the riders in waves, so Kathy and I got pushed further back. We talked about catching the Mules but immediately hit a concrete headwind and decided to take it easy instead. Quite a long run into the wind before we turned around and found ourselves cruising along at 21 mph without breaking a sweat. It's fun but you always pay for it. Kathy was good company, though, and we had fun chatting about Life, the Universe and Everything. But we were smart enough to opt for 45 miles rather than 55, given the powerful breeze. We turned onto a familiar route from the Zube run and I got a flat in my rear tire. With Kathy's help I changed out the tube pretty quickly, even using a CO2 bottle to reinflate. This was about the halfway mark and just about where we turned south, into the wind once more. The first few miles were OK, with lots of zig-zags to get some rest, but when we hit a long straight, Kathy ran out of gas and I nearly dropped her. She caught up and we rode in together, with me taking point all the way. We finally got back to the start and pulled up at the stable, by now full of Mules drinking beer, eating pizza and sharing a few laughs. I grabbed a slice of pepperoni and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (ambrosia and nectar!) and joined in the badinage. I hung around long enough to help Paddy strike camp, then headed home for lunch, more beer and a good long nap.