More like the “Icicle Express”

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I was grateful to our RBA here in Houston allowing me to ride the “Wildflower Express” permanent on such short notice. I did, however, fail to check the weather before signing up. When I looked the night before the ride, it was suppose to be in the 40’s with a headwind on the way out and the wind dying down just in time for my trip back in. Seems just about in line with my luck.

I had agreed to start the ride at 6 am. My thoughts are always I can make it up and back to be home in time to be with my darling wife. My illusions of an 8 hour 200k continue to be just that, illusions. The ride started slow, as I sat in my car for 25 minutes slowly putting on layers of clothes. I then hopped outside the car to take the bike down and found some reason to be back in the car tinkering. Combine that with me arriving in my typical fashion of just when the ride is suppose to start, I got about a 30 minute late start.

The worry is always making the first control, as the window is the narrowest. My 30 minute late start, fighting a 10 mph headwind, trending uphill (albeit, not that much) and it being cold causing me to pee were all worries of mine. I had two pee stops in the first 26 miles compared to my usual one. I was hoping for a wonderful sunrise with lots of orange and yellow, but it was rather blah and there was still cloud cover.

I take a bottle of Heed as often as I can. About 16 miles in I reached down and the heed was like a wonderful lemon-lime slushy. My water was beginning to freeze as well. I was perplexed as the weatherperson claimed it would be above freezing, could they be incorrect? Nonetheless, when I arrived at Newman’s Bakery in Belleville with 15 minutes to spare on the cutoff time, the old farmers sitting around the table let me know it was 25 deg F outside. I disagreed, but I wasn’t going to argue with them. I was, however, looking forward to the warm soup and bread Newman’s usually has. The sign said the soup of day was chicken & rice soup, but the soup pot was empty. I settled for a kolache and a croissant (have I mentioned I am excited for PBP?).  Again, I found it difficult to be chased out into this terribly cold weather (for us Houstonians) and lounged around for a bit, looking for every excuse under the sun not to leave.  Here is a picture of my water bottle after sitting in Newman’s for 5 minutes or so.

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Once I got outside and saw the bank’s sign, I had spent 15 minutes at the control (I like to aim for about 5-7 minutes) and the old farmers were correct, it was 27 deg F! I slung my leg and peddled on.

I still haven’t found a solution to keep my feet warm. My feet were freezing and I couldn’t feel them, the headwind was in no way helping this. The one stop light I was stopped at made it very difficult to clip in, as I couldn’t feel what was going on. I’ve thought about booties being my magic answer, but in the rain last weekend in Austin, I was informed they are not waterproof. But, maybe some booties and a couple of those chemical warmers may do the trick, even though they won’t keep me dry. That’s what wool socks are for anyways…

Chappell Hill is a normal stop for services, although it typically isn’t a control on our 200k rides. At least with these out and backs. While I usually stop, my water bottles were still full and I didn’t see the need for more water in the next 20 or so miles. Plus I didn’t want to get into the warmth and linger there. And for some reason, I was concerned with the cutoff time fighting the headwind. So I pushed on wondering where the sun was the weatherperson promised.

I arrived in Independence, the turnaround, at what my bike computer said was 12:30. The cutoff was 12:45. I ran in and grabbed my coke to pay and get my receipt. To my joy, I was reminded by the TV in the background that the time was 11:30. I had forgot to adjust the time on my bike computer to reflect the time change (the math is pretty straightforward when you remember to do it). I found the restroom, chatted with some guys sitting around drinking beer at 11:30 am on a Friday, called the battle ax and then headed back. I was hoping to capture some of that wonderful wind I fought all the way up to Independence.

Amazingly, the sun was hiding behind some cloud cover when I went into the Independence food store, but the sun was out on my return. The wind was there to give me a “helping hand,” but by the time I reached Chappell Hill, it was nothing more than a lazy fart. I was cruising along pretty well, and again opted to stop at Chappell Hill, but rather to push on to Belleville. I did find this thing sitting on the side of the road.

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And between Chappell Hill and Belleville, there is this beauty I have always wanted to stop at. I did this time, as I was riding alone. I was also a bit hungry and finished up my “poor man’s energy bars” (saltines with peanut butter).

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The rest was a breeze into Brookshire. There are small rolling hills outside of Belleville for about 10 miles, but it then becomes flat as a pancake. I sort of had a tailwind, but it seemed the wind was swirling. Nothing that really changed my 17-18 mph avg on the flat.

I still need to continue to work on my nutrition during these rides. I was starving a couple miles from the end. I had some almonds I ate while slowly peddling. I also veered from my Heed, only taking my original bottle. The saltines and peanut butter were great, I just need more! Either way, I’m finished. Another 200k in the drain.

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