|ready to roll!|
So on Saturday morning we grouped outside my house (Kevin, Tom and I), anxiously anticipating a beautiful Spring day in Texas spent battling a 20 mph cross/head wind. We were not disappointed.
My brother-in-law David the Randonneur was riding again but had decided to make things difficult for himself. He planned to do the entire ride in one hit, starting from Houston at midnight on Saturday so as to catch me in La Grange for the second day. What a maniac.
Jorge wanted to ride with us but started with his team (with no BHP team this year, he opted to join some Colombian friends riding with BP, while we signed up with St.Arnold's Brewery). We planned to meet at the first rest stop but in fact he caught us a few miles before it.
The route to Bellville is becoming very familiar! The first long stretch north directly into the wind split us up, with Jorge and I pulling ahead of Tom and Kevin. They wouldn't catch us all day. We rolled into lunch feeling pretty good, although Jorge was regretting the lack of training a bit.
Back at it, with rollers all the way to La Grange now. Jorge was tiring and with about 20 miles to run, he dropped back. I wasn't doing that great myself but Fayetteville was a great boost.
Soon enough I saw the road junction that lead to the last rest stop of the day and I was glad to stop and take off my shoes - my right foot was really painful. I walked around in my socks for a while and then ran into Kevin (my BW&F buddy) who was riding with his sister Pattie. Kevin had agreed to do the ride on his fixie and there it was! Amazing to ride that far in that wind on that bike. When it was time to put my shoes back on I found that I'd been walking in burrs and had a ton of them stuck to my socks.
Back on the road and at long last a down wind run - the last 7 miles are more-or-less due south. Even so I was glad to cross the finish line and accept a taster-size St.Arnold's beer from a raucous (possibly drunk) volunteer.
|smiles of relief|
Back at the tent Kevin and Tom had rolled in and Jorge was there too - he had finished only a few minutes behind me. We had a dinner and another beer, before turning in for an early night.
I slept as poorly as ever due to nerves, unfamiliar surroundings and an air mattress that deflated within about an hour of use. The lights came on at 5 as always and I was ready to get up. Breakfast comprised packaged kolaches and surprisingly good coffee and I took full advantage of the latter. I packed my gear, cleaned up my bike and got ready for my day.
David checked in - he had decided to modify the route a little and had hit an unexpected dead end, so was running late and suggested we meet at a rest stop.
The line for the start was already pretty long when I joined but again that's par for the course. It was probably an hour before I got going and when I did it was damn chilly in the shade. I saw Kevin stopped by the road side and pulled up just past him to see if he needed help. In fact he had lost touch with Tom and was waiting for him. A little further on I passed Tom, who had actually got ahead of his partner.
I was riding the Challenge Route but the Parks were closed due to construction, so we got the big descent into Smithville and then were funneled onto Route 71 with the Fanny-pack set. It was still moderately challenging, the same climbs but on smoother roads and more drawn-out. We hit Bastrop for lunch but we were guided to the Middle School, rather than the High School where we'd had lunch every year previously. I got my lunch and texted David, who was close behind. Unfortunately in the crowd we failed to make contact, and he started without me.
The final afternoon of the ride is always a chore, not a great distance but boring roads and fatigue really starts to set in. About halfway through when I was seriously dragging a paceline blew past so I jumped on to see if I had anything left in the tank. It seemed I did, I hung on for a few miles, and felt a lot better about the ride.
|phew, made it|
I dropped off my bike and made my way to the St.Arnold's tent which was absolutely packed. I got my bag and a beer and headed off to the VIP shower truck. I ad to check in with a cop of some variety and tried to disguise the beer in my hand as I did so but I don't think he cared.
After showering I thought about going back to the tent but didn't fancy the crush and went straight to the bus back to Houston instead. But I should have stayed a little longer to wish Kevin Bon Voyage for his forthcoming cycle epic.