Once there we met up with Julie (hai, Julie!), got our packets and lined up. It was a very small rally, maybe 150 riders. Maybe. And even though everyone around me was dressed as if they would, there was no chance of freezing anything on this day. It was GORGEOUS! Sunny and 70 degrees at the heat of the day. On February first. Oh, Texas, I pink sparkle heart you and your unpredictable weather!
TPG, Jules & TriGirl
My plan was to ride this not as a fun rally but for what it was, training. Initially I signed up for the metric century, but after learning that TriGirl was doing the 50, I decided to drop down to that distance. I planned to run afterwards and I didn't want her waiting on me forever. My fuel? Feed Zone rice muffins and of course, the secret to happiness, resting on my top tube, my great big nutsack. I added dried cranberries to the mix this time for a little bit of sweetness. Good choice.
Gettin ahold of my precious nutsack.
Notice the girl in the aero helmet on her cruiser?
It was actually TWO girls in aero helmets on a tandem cruiser! They were hilarious!
Their friend next to them, was sporting shorty shorts and kicks on his road bike.
They were clearly there to have some fun!
While riding, what you see the most, at least at the start of a rally, are a lot of butts. And I've intentionally kept my mind from wondering what in the Sam Hill my pink tail looks like from, ahem, behind. Well, if you are riding with sneaky Julie, she'll snap a pic and text you! Mystery solved. Sigh.
I rode the first bit with Julie and TriGirl and gave the explicit direction to drop me whenever they felt like it. I didn't want to hold anyone up. We were together for maybe 10 minutes or so. Small rally with 10, 30, 40, 50 and 60 something miles - it thinned out pretty quickly. The fist half was super fast. Lots of small rollers. As soon as you got to the top, you were rewarded with a downhill and the momentum that accompanies that motion. Made getting back up the next short hill very easy. I hoped to only stop once, halfway, to refill my bottles if needed. My goal was to finish in under 3 hours if I could. Feeling strong and still with plenty of fluids (I'm really bad about drinking (and eating) on the bike) I zoomed past the 25 mile aid station at just under an hour and a half. Sweet.
I only took one photo while riding cause, well, I need both hands to steer. Usually. I also need those same hands to shove food in my mouth. Y'all, I ate ALL of my nutrition on the ride. All of it! Yeas for much needed calories! Okay, I did drop a lil bit of food once when it was hanging out of my mouth - emergency gear shift necessitated both hands. (that lil chain ring comes in handy at times)
But it was a gorgeous day and I saw a lot of this.
The second half slowed me down. Instead of rollers, there were several long, gradual climbs. And the last 20 miles was a very strong headwind. I put my head down and tried to get as small I could, used my gears to the best advantage and just pedaled. I didn't care how slowly I needed to get up those long hills (sadly, sometimes 6 mph) because I knew going downhill I could easily grab 30+. And believe me, I shoved it in my hardest gears every downhill and ran on that bike to make up speed.
On one really flat, fast stretch, I was going 27 on my own power and feeling pretty good about myself. Until, until I hear that familiar sound. Disc wheels. Yep, I got smoked by a tri group. Whoosh. The only sound I heard, other than that distinctive rattle? One dude calling out, "I love your kit!" Huzzah! Butt skulls, FTW!
My plan was to spin easy the last mile, to prepare my little legs to run. Remember how this was a 50 mile course? Well, I know that rallies are notoriously inaccurate, mileage wise. So I was prepared to see 51. And I did. Then 52. Then I started to wonder if I had missed a turn and was actually on the metric century route. Which was fine by me. I wasn't; I saw 54 click over and the finish line at the same time. 3:20. Not super fast, but not too bad either. For me.
Here was the best part. I felt great. I felt like I could easily ride another 25 miles if I had the food. 50 miles should be easy for me at this point in my training, but 50 pretty hilly miles was even better. Of course, I had a run to do and a friend to meet so I wasn't heading back out for a bonus lap. I quickly changed shoes and headed back out on the course, hoping to see TriGirl as she came in.
My legs felt great on the run and I was able to bust out those two miles sub 10. Okay, okay, that's not a super speedy pace but after trashing my legs on the hills, I was pleased. One women, coming in on her bike yelled, "Git that brick, girl!" Ha ha! Such a supportive community, triathlon. I finished up my run in time to see TriGirl bring it home.
Reunited and it feels so good.
I needed this benchmark day. I've been doubting my training and wondering if I am where I should be. And after this weekend, I am feeling much more confident. I know every ride won't go that well, but this one did. I felt strong the entire time. I even had the energy to jump in the hurt box towards the end. I was NOT going to finish over 3 and half hours. It was NOT going to happen. And it didn't. Yeah, the drive was kind of a beating. But TriGirl helped make the time go by quickly, keeping me company. Yeah, I feel a little like a loser for driving all that way when I could have easily covered those same miles in town. But, the chance of scenery was nice. I've got a lot of miles to ride in the next few months. I'll take a new view every now and then! Plus, if I had stayed in town, I would have missed this!