With the weather turning for the better, it has been much more pleasant to ride. Evidence: Number of cyclists seen on cold Jan mornings during training rides – 0, number of cyclists seen Saturday – 5. Which is a good thing!
I FINALLY started a permanent on time. I started in the dark, but it wasn’t long until the sun was up and hiding behind the clouds. The weatherperson forecasted light to no tail winds going up, and a decent headwind coming back. Go figure! I enjoyed the fast ride into Bellville. The only real eventful sighting was the few people bumpin’ rap music on an ’88 Caprice Classic with 24″ rims out for a morning bake. Snoop Dog ain’t got nothin’.
I didn’t eat a breakfast other than a granola bar. I was starving as I rolled into Newmann’s. I got a ham & cheese croissant (to go) and a coconut donut. I was spending a little more time not pedaling than I usually like, as I was at 5 minutes leaving the first control. But, that was more of a function of having to pee on the side of the road, passing cars and stage fright.
I passed by Chappell Hill as I had almost full water bottles and was feeling good. At about mile 44, I heard a pop coming from my back wheel and noticed an immediate difference with the ride of my machine. I didn’t hear any clanking that is sometimes associated with breaking a spoke, so I pulled over to make sure everything was all right. I gave each spoke a wiggle and about the time I touched the 33rd spoke, out it came into my hand. I wrapped it around some other spokes and pushed on. I had ample time to think about how bad my rear wheel was, dreaming up such things as: buying new spokes and relacing, buying a new rim & spokes and relacing or finishing the build of my new rear wheel and placing on the Le Tour. I have landed on the last option (which isn’t without it’s complications), of completing the Open Pro wheel build for my new bike and letting the Le Tour borrow it. I will eventually get a new rim and replace so D will have a machine to ride. I also dreamed last night about being at PBP on a bike with no spokes, however that works. But, it is affecting my sleep, so it’s better to fix it.
About 5 miles after my tragic loss of a spoke, a triathlete passed me. We chatted for a few minutes.
Me: Good Morning! How are you?!
Her: Good! (Pause) How far are you riding?
Me: 125 miles.
Her: (double take) Are you training for something?
Me: PBP, it’s a 750 mile ride in 90 hours.
Her: I thought I was crazy doing a Half Ironman, but you win.
Me: Have a good one.
The Halfsie was kind, which isn’t common amongst those highly competitive types who think an Ironman is the king (or queen) of endurance sports. I wish her luck in her half.
I finally rolled into Washington on the Brazos state park. I had a secret goal to try and beat 8 hours. It is quite ambitious, but we can all dream, right?! I was on pace, but I knew the wind would be killer going back. I arrived at the state park at about 9:55 am, and I wanted to be out of there before 10, or my 4 hour mark. I grab my stuff and go to walk in. The doors are locked. Great! Are they closed today? Bob (our RBA and owner of this perm) will not like this. But then I see this:
I hang out for a few minutes, knowing darn well there are people in there, but those state employees are sticklers for the rules. The one advantage of this particular stickler, is he opened right at 10. I went to the bathroom and washed the salt deposits of my face (I have a nasty habit of rubbing my face and these things hurt). I grabbed some snacks. There was a praline and I asked if it was good. The worker replied, “If you like nuts.” (hold comments please). I didn’t want to articulate that I am a praline snob and the first item on my list was that he was pronouncing it incorrect: prAY-leen (it’s prAW-leen, in case you were curious). I fell for the trap and bought it at some inflated price. And what a sucker I was. It was nothing like a praline. Sugar and pecans do not automatically constitute a praline. Nonetheless, my hope for a French Quarter quality praline was dashed, and I was out almost $3 (hey, a decent price to pay for a quality praline so far away from New Orleans). Off I was onto my return.
The wind was every bit as tough as I thought it would be, especially nearing Chappell Hill. I was hitting 6 mph going up a hill into the wind. But, my legs thought they would explode and I had my mind set on a buck double (I needed something to remove the taste of an inferior praline from my mouth). While the buck double served as my imaginary carrot on a stick dangling in front of me, I saw my new triathlete friend running out of Chappell Hill. My guess is, she had just hit her high and the endorphins were pumping. She did some cheer for me and yelled some words of encouragement, but I didn’t make it out. I smiled and waved. Not often that you run into kindness like that!
I grabbed my buck double and stuffed it into my mouth. Kind of a disappointment again. Food isn’t what it usually is when one is cycling. Oh well, at least I was only out a $1 this time. I slung a leg and pressed on. I continued to fight mother nature’s wind, finally reached the outer limits of Bellville about 1 pm. Then there was this:
I pulled out my phone and started checking emails, and I was about to call the battle ax, but the train was surprisingly “short.” I threw my phone into the bag and pressed on into town. I arrived at the control and did my little get up. I called D to let her know when to expect me. I also let her know that my Aunt was in town and wanted to get together. I was coaxed into calling and making plans with her, with of course included another return call to D to let her know what the plans are. With the 8 hour goal passing, I might as well go to the mexican joint across the street, have a proper lunch, make these calls and take siesta in this wonderful sun. However, I was in no way pressed for time in terms of receiving a DNF. And the epiphany I had was to relax a bit and enjoy the ride. Time is of less importance on these shorter rides. I made my calls, laid down some plans for Sunday afternoon with my Aunt and let the wife know of said plans. I finished drinking my chocolate milk and little bit of orange juice. I put the remainder of the OJ in my handlebar bag and headed towards the finish.
I was clipping a surprising pace headed in. I felt good (my stomach was a little off, but nothing major). I dreaded the turn south (into the wind), but I settled in at a doable, but pressing pace into the wind, 15 mph. The wind wasn’t as strong as it was near Chappell Hill, but it was still there.
I finished in 9 hrs 12 mins. Not too shabby. And a country cookie to finish off the ride (and hopefully settle my small stomach issue). (Details and stats here)