Thursday, September 30, 2004

Waco Wild West Century - Ride Report

What a night, then a day - especially for my good friend Escher. Last night started out easily enough with calm winds and warm temps, but the weather soured not too long after dark as a hard cold-front blew in, bringing winds with gusts to 41 knots and more than 3 inches of rain during the night. Escher & Imelda's new tent from Winnebago did not fare well and was filled with water by morning - they "slept" in the car with Astro, my god-dog, but Escher only logged about an hours-worth of shuteye.

The next morning was cold and rainy and windy. Escher and I jumped in my jeep and drove to Waco. On arrival, with Escher snoring with less enthusiasm about riding, I went out and looked around for the others. There were plenty of people on bikes with a light rain and blustery skies. Encouraging - but how do they know the weather wil improve? I returned to wake Escher and ready the bikes. After about an hour of delays the rain finally sputtered, and the ride officially began with Eleanor (my Mom) & Mike, Jimmy, and Mandy. Yolanda and Leslie stayed behind, cheering us on to what would prove an arduous and frustrating ride for several of our group. Escher, Mandy and I contemplated the 50 or 62, but with unpredictable weather and no foul-weather gear we elected to do 25 with Eleanor & Mike and Jimmy.

After a few slow miles Escher decided to go on and promised to wait at the first rest stop. As we arrived there he was fixing a flat. This would proove to be the first, yet not the only problem of the day for Escher. We rolled on from the first rest stop and within a short time Jimmy and Mandy were a good ways ahead of Eleanor and Mike. Escher and I decided to spend the rest of the ride bouncing back and forth among the two parties. We were sprinting down a little roller and soon caught up with Mandy and Jimmy who were side-by-side chatting along. I transitioned to a spot in front of them and waited for Escher to either pass on by at speed or transition as well. He did neither, but stayed on my wheel, and not expecting me to slow turned his head for a moment. Yet it was less than a moment later that he clipped my rear wheel very roughly from the inside. I knew a wreck was likely and wasn't surprised to hear him go down behind me as I stabilized my bike after a rough blow from behind. Then I heard another crash, and on looking back saw Mandy ride handily over Escher's leg, which was on the ground with Escher. One would think Mandy would have fallen as well after running over such an obstruction, yet she was fine - it was Jimmy who had crashed - a hard pull on the front brakes caused a spill next to Escher. Escher was appropriately brushed up with plenty of road rash and an increasingly sensitive shoulder.

His helmet was fiercely cracked, and he spent the rest of the day with cranial disharmony after his involuntary dismount! Jimmy was in much better shape with only a rough knee and a clipped finger from a place on his bar. Other than some shredded bar wrap the bikes were okay. After Eleanor and Mike arrived we had a good laugh and on we rode - Eleanor keeping up a relatively (and surprisingly) fast pace with Escher as they lead us on through the last 7 miles or so to Waco. Yet Escher would have another flat. It was Mandy, who with a full cabinet of pharmaceuticals and bike repair parts (all miraculously organized in a small tool pouch - how does she do that?), who would come to the rescue with an extra tube, and which Escher punctured in the haze of increasing concussion and shock. Exasperated, he might have considerded SAG had it come along, yet with encouragement and the timely arrival of a Rider Assistant that he was soon underway. The remainder of the ride was fortunately uneventful. The skies had cleared, it was breezy and cool - a perfect day for a ride.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Camping and Riding in Waco, Texas

I arrived in Waco at the campsite on Wednesday the 29th. Up early Thursday morning to tour the countryside and ride into Waco, about 20 miles from the campground, for lunch and to noodle around. Everything looked good: great weather, bike's in great shape with new bar wrap and Rivendell's beautiful lugged stem, but ehn...where's the pump? Without a frame pump I didn't feel comfortable with the tour and rather drove to town to buy *another* Zefal frame pump. Ate lunch at the Elite Cafe, an 85 year-old historic cafe that has been spruced up nicely on the east side of I20 south of Waco. Tilapia with a light cilantro sauce with polenta and spinach. Then back to camp. Dexter (my Dad) had arrived with my old Trek 1000, and later in the evening so had Escher with his steel Bianchi that he purchased earlier this year. Up lazily the next morning for a ride to Waco with coffee at a downtown morning cafe. Escher and I rode along China Springs Rd, the backside of the airport (KACT), and on to Waco via Lakeshore, and MLK. I have a new appreciation for Waco and the ride was splendid. The return followed the well-marked routes of the Waco Wild West Century, which is tomorrow.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Cyclists Curing Cancer 2004 Century Ride - Clinton, MS (3rd Annual).

Another very early morning alarm with a packed jeep and on the road by 4:AM. Arrived in Clinton with about 45 minutes to spare and was one of the first to pick up a pre-registration packet. About 100 riders.

All routes were South from Clinton on the southern section of the Natchez Trace. Just for kicks, rode the first 11 miles at a very slow tempo with Joyce over mostly flat roads - the first 6 miles through town and the latter 5 on the Trace. Average 12.2 mph. Picked up a coupla fig bars at that first rest stop and said c-ya to Joyce (who was turning around), then picked up the tempo some, passing the 20 mile rest stop with a steady, yet light, north tailwind. Starting to catch up with the rest of packs, most of the 50 and metric riders returning in packs of six to 10. More hilly in this section.

Passed the 30 mile rest stop, riding a few miles on to the metric turnaround, then made the stop to refuel with some Gatorade, M&Ms, and bananas. Took a breather and made a few phone calls, then waited around for a group to slip in with on the return, but noone came along and I shipped out solo against the wind, which was slowly strengthening. Very short stop at the 20-mile rest stop for a few salty crackers and some cold water to dilute the Gatorade from the 30-mile stop, then on again under more wind, yet more even terrain.

As I was about to pull into the 10-mile stop a group of 6-8 riders was pulling out and I joined them, savoring the slipstream for the first time on this ride. It was a medium paced group and not very organized or consistent. Three riders on the back pulled around the rest and I followed. Over a hill and it was the four of us only now at a reasonably steady 18 mph pace. One of the riders touched my rear tire but didn't crash, yet he was wobbly and unnerved from the experience and dropped off the back. The balance of the ride was with Bruce and Ronnie. Bruce was strong and pulled a few more miles, then Ronnie, who wasn't as strong. I took my place on front but the pace was too much for Ronnie and we slowed down and made introdutions. The rest of the ride was at a slower pace, maybe 16-17. Although my first 11 miles on this ride were averaged at 12.2, the average over the rest of the metric was 17.6 mph, and most of that solo.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

31st Annual Birmingham Bicyling Club Century & Double Century

31st Annual Birmingham Bicyling Club Century & Double Century

Alarm at 3:AM. Dressed, breakfast, and on the road by 4:AM. Drove to Montevello, Alabama via GPS routing, except for a re-route through a wildlife management area. Arrived at the Montevalle High School a bit before 7 and found a shady parking place on the University of Montevello campus. Unloaded the Rambouillet and after picking up registration package sat down in a folding chair and listened to La Bottine Souriant's Quebecois. 8:AM start looped us around town a little and then it easy pedaling for the next 4-5 miles or so, then the first hill: up and down. Missed the 10 mile rest stop as I jumped from group to group, then the memorable Robert says, " a nasty set of rollers". Wasn't as bad as I had made it out to be - mostly, but definitely memorable...each one starting gently enough but having a quarter mile section on each with 7% grades. The 20 mile rest stop marked the end of the rollers - then it was just rolling farm and timberland. I rolled on by the 30 mile rest stop for a few miles, then turned around and enjoyed the refreshments put out by the Alabama Bike Coalition. This was the best stocked rest stop I've ever seen - trail bars, bananas, oranges, nectarines, grapes, pb and jelly sandwiches, potato chips, opwerade, water, etc etc...While the rest stops were excellent, the ride was not well marked and I missed several turns, then had to turn around after a 1/4 to a mile out. The rollers on return were less fun, and especially with noone else in sight (there were only 200-300 people total for the ride) - then I missed another turn, huffing up a steep hil only to realize that the cyclists who were previosuly ahead of me were unlikely to have gone so fast as to have disappeared. Few dogs, fantastic rolling curvy scenery the whole route, and a temperate day in September.