Saturday, we woke up to a surprising and very welcome 47 degrees. Whaaaaat? Oh it was a gorgeous day for cycling! We couldn't have ordered better weather. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky and a high in the upper 60's. The lows at night have been in the low 70's lately so this was a gift and a blessing!
Securing our bikes on a borrowed bike rack (thank you Drum!) we headed out in the darkness to Aledo, Texas, over 50 miles away. Remarking on what a long drive it was, Violator commented that we'd be cycling much farther than that. Yep.
We arrived with plenty of time to blow up our tires, visit the porta potties and find a few friends. We also make a few parking lot friends. Funny, the cyclists I encounter in town (at my local bike shop, ahem) are always really snotty, yet when I meet riders at rallies they are always super nice. I think part of it is the Dad effect. Dads dig me. It's the younger guys that are so rude. (said in a Stephanie Tanner tone) Guess I don't look legit. They can see through to my real runner self!
Anyhow, we were excited to be off for 73 miles! Oh and it was tedious. It's been a long time since I've ridden in a rally and it is a totally different atmosphere than a race. Duh. There are all types of bikes, ages and abilities. And like a footrace, there are plenty of people who don't know proper safety and etiquette yet. We tried to negotiate as much passing as we could, safely getting around the slower riders. Unfortunately, not everyone knows what "Passing on your left" means. I'd gear up to pass and they'd swerve uncertainly in my path. This was NOT a closed course. The riders who didn't give you room to pass were really putting the rest of us in jeopardy, while we were trying to gauge how quickly we could get around in the small space available to pass. Yeep! Eventually we got around all the 8 and 22 milers and settled in a nice sweet spot.
Violator at the first rest stop. Several nice young men stopped to admire her ride. I tell ya, she gets a lot of attention with her fast red bike. It's a dude magnet!
At another aid station. She lost her long sleeve shirt and I had rolled up mine. Fortunately, I never got hot. Man, it was a perfect day! I introduced Violator to ride glide this weekend. Lemme tell you ladies, a happy hoo ha makes for a happy cyclist. Although I desperately wish I had a photo of her face when she came out of the porta potty. I forgot to mention that it is um, minty. Surprise!
We came across a field of cows with big white cow birds standing all around them. Of course, the birds flew away when we got close to take a pic. The cows just looked at us. Oooh, there were so many fuzzy calfs. I just wanted to run out there to hug one! (but I didn't; I don't want chiggers!)
A van of mechanics stopped to ask if we were okay while we were on our cow photo shoot.
"Oh, don't mind us, we're just two crazy girls who like to interact with livestock on rides." And yes, we are both from Texas and yes we have seen thousands of cows in our lives. But still, love to check them out. Moo.
Okay y'all, this was a hilly course. The hilliest I've ever ridden and we all know I'm not a strong climber. Not even a little bit. But Violator, dang, that woman is a BEAST on hills! She would positively attack every hill and there were a lot of them. She says it's because she has a big butt, ha! A. She doesn't have a big butt and B. I've heard that before. Is that true? Cause if so, I'm really in trouble. I ain't got NO booty in the pants.
But yes, this was a killer course. There were a few really steep hills, so steep I witnessed cyclists actually get off their bikes and walk uphill. The steep ones didn't bother me much, I'd just get up out of the saddle and huff and puff until I was at the top. It's the long, gradual hills that got to me. I just run out of steam! Not Violator, she'd charge up each and every hill, pulling me far behind her. But eventually I'd catch up. Me, I'm much more
reckless aggressive on the downhill. I'd throw it in my hardest gear, tuck into aero and scream the whole way down. I LOVE TO GO FAST! The whole ride was like that...fly downhill then come to a screeching halt because there was another hill to climb immediately following. There were no flat stretches to speak of.
Don't be fooled. That only looks decent. And that's a false summit you see too. You'd finally get to the top and it would just keep going. Urg.
I had my bento box crammed full of food. I really struggle with nutrition when I'm hot and working; this ride was no exception. The first 55 miles I had about a fourth a bottle of Gatorade, half a Lara bar and two Oreos. Nutrition FAIL. Wearing my Camelbak, I did drink a lot of water, draining it a couple of times. At the last aid station we stopped for, around mile 60 or so, I had half a banana and an orange slice.
Violator, filling her Wink.
At one point Violator mused, "What are the chances there will be any food left?" There weren't many people doing the 73 mile course and we were certain to be some of last finishers. She went on to question, "I wonder what the chances are that there will be anything for you to eat?" I assured her that I'd be able to find something. But honestly, I got so hungry all I could think about for the last 30 miles or so was a hamburger. My tummy was growling but my bento of crap did NOT sound good. I have GOT to figure out what I like to eat on these long rides.
Eventually we did make it to the finish (thankfully NOT last) and not only was there food left, they had VEGGIE BURGERS! Oh my good golly Pete, that was the best news I had heard all day. I piled it high with lettuce, tomatoes, onion and PICKLES, yummy salty pickles! Ha ha, normally I'm not a pickle girl, but they sounded sooo good right then.
We had SO much fun. Met a lot of really encouraging people on the course and after. I saw one woman wearing a Longhorn jersey that I immediately began to covet. It shall be mine Oct 28) We ate with Longhorn lady and Dennis, who we visited with on the ride. (incidentally, Dennis is training for RAAM, hello, can I please crew for you?) He met her two years ago. Came across her lying face down in the road. She had been hit by a drunk driver during a rally. So scary! But she's better now and off and riding again!
Aledo did an incredible job. All the drivers we encountered were so courteous, giving us wide berth when passing us. I never once felt unsafe, not even when we were riding on the highway. I really enjoyed watching the countryside go by and waving at the trucks as they passed. We even got a few honks on the highway, ha! Every time a semi would honk I'd raise my hands and cheer. Mostly because it makes Violator nervous when I take my hands off my bike! Told you I was reckless. (nah, I would never take my hands off my handlebars if there were other bikes around or if I was on gravel. I am in complete control of my ride at all times. Step back safety patrol.)
At just over 73 miles (we turned around a few times for photo opportunities and once because I thought I dropped something) this was the farthest either of us had ever ridden.
Here are a few things I learned:
1. I suck at climbing. This is not news. Must work on hills this summer.
2. I suck at eating on the bike. Cram food in cake hole. Do it.
3. I got a hot spot on the seam of one of the panels of my shorts. That has never happened before. Need to remember extra glide on that seam.
4. I need to have my fit adjusted. I have a great deal of discomfort in my traps when in aero. Also, when I'm in aero, my saddle and my lady business disagree. Must fix this.
5. My triceps are weak. My core held up just fine, and I think we can all agree that I have freakishly strong biceps for someone my size. But my triceps really grew weary.
All in all it was an incredible experience! And I'm SO thankful I got to share it with Violator! We shared some great conversation and I learned a lot of new things about my sweet friend. Riding a rally is such a different experience. I get a little antsy at the start; it makes me nervous to be with so many people. (just like the start of any footrace) But once it thinned out and we were on open road, I was all smiles.
And isn't that the best way to live? Thrown into our highest gear, screaming down the hills of life, having a blast with a good friend.