Friday when I went to pick up my packet at the Omni, it was dark and ominous outside. The weather was warm and humid, but there was a call for heavy rain. I ran into a friend of mine from TNT who is a Ride Marshall and he was dreading the ride conditions and all the riders out on the road. I got out of the expo without laying down any money other than my $400 donation to the MS Society and headed to the LBS to pick up my bike. At the shop, it started pouring. The lightning was crazy. The strangest thing was that as I was driving home at 3:30 p.m., all of the street lights and business lights were on and cars had their head lights on. It was as dark as 8:00 p.m. after the sun sets. I got home and started packing my gear.
Headlights on at 3:30 p.m. CRAZY!
At 4:20, I got a text from my buddy Erich that the first day was canceled. WHAT??!!?? It even made our local headline news. The storms that tore through La Grange, TX had flooded the fairgrounds where everyone was to be staying overnight on Saturday and the wind had torn up or knocked down many of the team tents. Greyhound called and said we were still on and Carrie and Shawn were on their way from Austin and to head over for diner. I finished my packing and by 6:00 p.m. the sun was trying to peek out through the clouds. Greyhound had fixed up a greyt (ha ha) gluten-free diner for us and we then huddled around the computer looking at the weather radar. We got the bikes and gear loaded on the main car and then got ready for bed.
We are all bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to ride!
In the morning, we were again huddled around the computer and the radar was clear. The storms had moved east and there was nothing out west. We ate a yummy breakfast and gathered all of our belongings and loaded up the car. Mrs. Greyhound would drop us off and then go back to the house to get Superpounce and Terri who would be driving Carrie and Shawn's car and they were going to meet us at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort.
An hour latter, we pulled into the parking lot of a Walgreen's and as soon as we stepped out of the car Greyhound and I thought we saw lightning. NOOOOOO!!!!! It was 6:45 a.m. and it was eerily quiet. We only saw two guys on bikes heading west. We thought we would have seen more renegades. We waited 5 more minutes and then we saw another flicker of lightning up in the clouds. Everyone saw it this time. Mrs. Greyhound pulled the plug on the ride and we loaded back up to find a Starbucks and head back to the compound.
We were all pouting. Starbucks helped, but not much.
After getting back we rearranged the cars to get all the bikes inside and out of the rain and we left at 10:00 a.m. just as the first big fat drops were starting to fall. We all agreed that at least it was starting to rain or else we would have been bummed that we scrapped the ride when we could have done it. The rain was awful! Visibility was bad until after Brenham, TX and we only saw a few moments of the sun before it retreated behind the clouds. At least the rain was done. We considered finding a place to pull over near Round Top, TX and riding from there past La Grange and on to the Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop, but there were a line of storms on the radar just to the south and we did not know which direction they would be traveling in.
We got to the Lost Pines Resort around 12:30 p.m. and when we piled out of the car, the humidity knocked us over. It was intense. We had a good lunch where it seems I consumed every vegetable I could find along with some grilled chicken. The buffet was very good. We took some stuff up to the rooms and then took our bikes over to the resort's fitness center. We had packed our trainers in case of the rain and once we got the ladies taking a Nia class out of the group exercise room, we took it over and set up our trainers and bikes, plugged in the iPod and started pedaling. There were nice windows out to the road coming into the resort so we got to see more and more cars with bikes on the back pull up and the occupants of said cars watching us as we pedaled it up. HA HA!!! We got to ride and you did not!!!
Only ding-dong tri geeks would bring their trainers with them on a charity ride.
There was a lot of guilt going around that we did not pedal 130 miles on the bike and we were at a nice resort.
We would ride and we would not be denied!!!
I was ready for this ride on the trainer. It is always better to ride with other people. I worked on an interval workout of 8 x 5 minute work in the 53x15 gearing with a five minute recovery in the 53x21 gearing. Greyhound and was getting a little fidgety in the saddle and he called it quits when Terra Castro (Luna Chix pro triathlete) showed up. Terra was nice enough to drive out from Austin and bring her massage table to give us massages. Shawn called it a day after 2 hour on the trainer and then he went for a run. The sun was starting to come out and things were looking good for the next day. When the boys left, I took the opportunity to hop off the bike and plug in my iPod. Sorry Greyhound, your tunes were good, but Carrie and I were ready for some thumping techno. The two of us cranked it out for another hour. Carrie commented on how I was not sweating. HA! I was soaked and I had beads of sweat running down my arms and off my nose. I was sweating big time! We closed it down at the three hour mark and after loading up the bikes and trainers, I went for a short run. I got lucky and saw two armadillos on my run.
3 hours later and we are still going! Notice the guys got chicked' and are no longer in the room.
I showered up and met up with Greyhound and the rest of the crew for diner. On the way to the table I ran into a guy who had been on this season's TNT team but did not recommit due to travel and other things going on. He was very surprised to see Coach and asked how I was. I had mentioned that we had done a trainer ride and I was ready for food. "Was that you I saw on the bikes on the trainers as we were rolling into the resort???" Yup, that would be me. Diner was super delicious and the desert table was so good it should have been a crime. There was every sort of pie and cake on that table along with bread pudding, mousse cups, a chocolate fountain, and cobbler. I had to have the Red Velvet cake.
Ah, the sweet elixer of repose and dreams.
After diner I got a great massage from Terra and then I started to get my stuff in order for the morning. I talked on the phone with Johnny Tri for an hour about his race at RAGE and he filled me in on how Coach Luke did. The bed and the pillow were so soft and going to sleep was very welcome.
The next morning I was up at 6:00 a.m. and was dressed, fed, and packed up at 6:45 and headed out to the car to load up. We slathered down with sunscreen since there was not a cloud in the sky and we drove out to Smithville, TX to hop on the route. We were probably 12-15 miles into the ride so we could hit the course without getting caught in the traffic in La Grange with everyone coming in from Houston. The morning was cool and I opted to wear my arm warmers and a light shell that I knew I would be taking off soon. The first part of our ride was through the state parks. With the shade from the trees I knew I would want the shell on coming off the climbs.
Day 2: Carrie and Shawn getting ready to roll.
Greyhound making the last minute checks.
It has been three years since I had done this ride and somehow I didn't go through the state park the last time because I was concerned about the safety with so many people. The last time through the park seven years ago was a big ol' Cluster F--- with fast people, slower people, people walking their bikes, and idiots going the opposite direction through the park. Well, this time it was a treat to only have a hand full of people in the park. Some of the hills were steeper than I remembered and even in the 39 ring, I was working HARD in the 21 and 23 cogs and doing 60 rpm. That hurt like a Muther. I got through the park and pulled over to wait for Greyhound, Carrie, and Shawn. I did some fluids and Shot Bloks and pulled off the shell and stuffed it in my back pocket and then I noticed the wind that hit my sweaty body. Dang it felt good. Dang this wind was going to be a bitch to ride in.
The beautiful Texas hill country
We had been served up a heaping plateful of headwind with a side of 30+ mph gusts all the way in to Austin. Nice...NOT!!! It was 9:00 a.m. at this point and we knew the wind was only going to get worse as the weather warmed up so we got going. Our plan was to meet back up at the last rest stop if we got separated before we headed into downtown. I was just focusing on keeping my head down and to keep pedaling. I could sense that I had people sitting on my back wheel and I thought that it was Kendall, Carrie, and Shawn. Much to my surprise, it was some guy in Ralph Lauren Polo Sport cycling shorts who had been drafting off my back wheel for a mile or two who got tired of my slow effort pedaling into the wind and wanted to get around me. "Yeah, you go A--hole. Don't say anything like,'On your left.' or 'Thanks for the pull.' Hope you liked the view Mr. RLX cycle shorts. I hope that I did not provide hardly any draft for you. That's what you get for sucking wheel on a tiny chick's bike. You A--hole!!!" The wind was getting to me.
I knew I was pulling some people along because I could see their shadows on the road. I just kept going. If they needed the pull, then I guess they needed it. It was pretty depressing looking down at my speed and seeing 14 mph and I was working in my 39x17 gear to keep the cadence up and smooth. I could have pushed a higher gear, but I did not want to shred my legs. I saw that there was a sign for a rest stop 3 miles ahead and I was wondering if it was rest stop #5 or #6. I had to hit a port-o-can bad. When I pulled off on to the side road to the rest stop all of a sudden there were 8 or 9 people with me. Holy crap, had I been pulling all of these people along for the past hour or more??? I had passed about 10 people and there was only one group of 6 riders that had passed me that I could recall. Wow, I guess any port in the storm will do for a draft on a windy day.
The rest stop was #5 and I was slightly mad at myself for stopping before #6 but I had to stop or my bladder was going to burst. The best part was that there was hardly anyone at the rest stop! No lines for the port-o-cans. No lines for the food. They had bags of salted cashews! A gluten free snack!!! Shawn rolled up and I waited for him before heading back out to the road. Once we got going I pulled away from the group and then I was all by myself out on the road.
It was like a little slice of heaven. Just me and the wind and the road. I could hear the birds, my number hanging off my race belt flapping in the wind, and the approaching cars. My numbers picked up and now I was up to 16 and 17 mph. things were starting to get warm. I had ditched the arm warmers back at the rest stop and stowed them in pockets but it was getting hot. I rolled up to rest stop #6 around 11 a.m. and saw Carrie and Greyhound waiting for me. We waited for Shawn to roll up so we could head in for the final stretch. Carrie and Greyhound passed me by when I was emptying my bladder in rest stop #5.
Rest Stop #6 before heading in to the Finish Line. Notice that I am the tallest one in the photo. That never happens!
After some pictures, we hit the road. Carrie and I soon dropped the boys and fell into a pattern of taking pulls. The entire right lane was coned off going into town and there seemed to be a few more people struggling on the big hills leading into town. This ride was really enjoyable because there were not many people out on the road. Usually it is mega crowded, but this year it was perfect. I later found out that we were WAY ahead of everyone else. Carrie was dealing with some cramping issues in her legs but she stuck to me like glue. The plan was to meet up around I-35 if we got separated and then gather up to ride in to the finish line. We pulled into a parking lot where there were some other cyclists and lo and behold I run into a guy who takes my spin class. I call him "Orbea boy" because he was wearing an Orbea hat the first or second time he came to my class. I knew he rode for a local team and I had gathered that he was a pretty strong cyclist. Well he saw me roll up and he was pretty shocked. He asked if I had been out he day before in the rain. He told me that he thought that I was just crazy enough to attempt it. Ha, yep, we did attempt it but thought the better of it. One of his team buddies asked if I kicked his ass in class and I said, "Of Course!"
Last turn in downtown to the finish line.
Well, the guys pedaled by and Carrie and I were off to catch them and make it across the finish line. Greyhound gave me a sprint finish to the end so that he would not be chick'd. Good on ya Greyhound! We pedaled out of the finishing area and then followed Carrie and Shawn back to their house about 3 to 4 miles away. All of them miserably uphill. Uphill at a crazy 17 to 21 % grade!!! My quads were not happy. We got showers while we waited for Mrs. Greyhound and Terri to arrive so we could swap luggage. Ah, it felt good to be clean.
Even though the first day was canceled, the wind made it feel like I had done both days. It was great to have a blogger meet up with Carrie and Shawn and as always a big privilege to get to ride with Greyhound. A big thank you to Mrs. Greyhound for driving and Terri (the Greyhound's family friend and supper runner) for giving up her weekend to riding in the back of the car with me and to drive Carrie and Shawn's car from Lost Pines to Austin. Thank you Superpounce for putting up with a bunch of crazy adults all weekend long. A super round of applause for Terra Castro for coming out to visit and diner with us and to provide massages. I could have used another one on Sunday when we finished. And last but not least, a Big Thank You to Greyhound for organizing all of this and being a gracious host to all of us.