This is my third year that I have tortured myself with this ride. To be brutally honest, I normally do not feel that the ride it a form of torture. It was the 20 mph winds, gusting even harder, that made the ride a form of torture. I must say that I still enjoyed the challenge.
Overall it was a fun ride this year! The winds were a form of cruel and unusual punishment, but it was nice to have a different challenge. The crazy wind is what will make it memorable. The only thing is that I need to get a fit done. The outside of my feet kept going asleep. I think when I start driving hard on the pedals, bad form is killing the circulation in my feet. Yes, I do believe a pro-fit is in my future.
A close friend of mine got a new Specialized Roubaix Elite. That seemed somewhat unfair that he had a nice and new carbon fiber bike while I am still on my Trek 1.5. I also like to have everything I need on hand for this ride. So the trunk bag was stuffed. I think my road bike weighed in closer to 30-pounds instead of 20. I had to stop on occasion (the outside of my feet going to sleep), so he just kept riding. That did not bug me much. He beat me to the lunch stop. After that he took off again. I could tell that I needed to train harder since my quads just couldn’t handle the load. My friend had a pretty good lead on me before La Grange. We met up at the last rest stop. He waited about 10-minutes for me to show up. Once we got rolling again, I had to start more slowly. Because of this he took off. Once we turned and the wind was more at our backs, I found a good paceline. We were holding 23-25mph. I then came to the conclusion I just can’t deal with wind very well! I ended up flying by my friend. Needless to say, we went into La Grange at the same time.
I was one of the last people out of La Grange (the wind ruined my dream of riding into Bastrop on day one, blah). We decided to take our time getting going on Sunday to avoid the craziness that is the La Grange start. My friend and I turned on the power and started passing people. I had to stop to grab some stuff out of my trunk bag, so my friend kept going. I found a decent pace line at one point. We were cruising at around 19-23mph into the last rest stop, when 3 out of the 5 in the paceline stopped. The other rider and I found another paceline that held around 21-25mph and took that into Bastrop (much slower pace on the climbs). Even though I had a few stops on the side of the road to put up my jacket and to stretch, I only dropped into Bastrop a minute behind him, with no rest stops.
After lunch I found a good paceline that was at around 23-25mph. I hopped into that for a while and lost my friend behind me. I dropped off and waited for 5-7 minutes, didn’t see him so got back on the bike. I found another paceline and ended up catching up to him (apparently he passed me while I was waiting for him without my knowing). We split up again for a bit, but managed to find each other again. The next thing we know, we are being forced into a rest stop. Apparently there was an accident up ahead that required Life Flight to come in to get them. I pray the people involved ended up being okay. I did hear someone stating that a person crashed and was unconscious, so the helicopter was called in.
Once we were allowed to roll out of the stop, my friend and I kept in the same paceline for a bit, but it kept surging. Nobody in front of me would call out “slowing!” before grabbing a hand full of brakes. After a couple of times where I almost flew into the back of the guy in front of me, I checked to my right, found the area to be clear, and swung out of the paceline. That line was an accident waiting to happen. Also, the constant slowing and accelerating will just kill your legs. I wanted to conserve my legs for the hills of Austin.
Then I got into the drops and just held 16-17 mph, a nice comfortable pace, into the last rest stop of the ride. By the time we pulled over, the paceline that I was leading had grown to over 10 riders. Apparently people like a nice and steady pace when in a paceline. Who would have thought?
So my friend got some generic IcyHot to help his knees. Apparently the pace he set on day one caught up to him on day two. It was interesting in that once we got rolling again, his knees hurt worse. We talked and decided that, should we get separated, we stop near the finish line. We did split up. I was holding back for a bit, but found out that it was killing my climbing and momentum. So I took off riding how I normally ride. I was having a blast, counting down the miles for everyone to the finish. People were looking forward to crossing that finish line in Austin.
Once I got to the last long straight, which lucky for us was a downhill, I stopped. I thought that would be the ideal spot since I could wait and then just coast down a hill to get going again. I sat there for several minutes before my friend came up. We called our wives and let them know we were just around the corner. They broke out the cameras and stood at the barrier. We flew down the hill and made the last left turn to the finish line. What a relief! Full of smiles and knowing we were finally done, we cruised around the block, back to the team tent.
I am a competitive person by nature. I tend to not think of what I have done as an accomplishment, but seek ways to improve on it next time. That constant desire to do better takes away from knowing that it is a big accomplishment to ride over 150-miles in two days. We are so used to seeing what the Tour de France riders ride in a day, that riding 80-miles in one day seems lame.
Often we forget that these people are the pinnacle of the cycling world. There are several people out there who would dream to be able to ride like we do. There are people out there who would give anything to be able to complete the MS 150. People with diseases that limit mobility, handicapped individuals, and others often come to mind. These people would love to be able to be mobile enough to complete the ride. I was reminded of this before the ride this year, and vowed to enjoy it and be thankful for having the ability to ride. It really made crossing that finish line that much sweeter.
I am happy to say that I was surprised to find out that my wife, and a close friend of ours, decided to ride in it next year. I told them I would ride next to them the whole ride, no matter how slow they went. I want to be there to help with repairs, to encourage and to motivate them on the ride. It will be great having a great friend and my wife along with me next year! I cannot wait! I do pray it will be a great year to ride. At least that way they would be more likely to want to do it again the following year!
My ride this year was dedicated to a close friends relative, Ron Aston. He currently suffers from MS and I hope we find a cure soon!