Well, for the last couple of weeks we've been training hard. Those who have been through this before take some of the day to day crap in stride while some of the newbies worry about every little thing. A good lesson for all of us given the mishaps of the previous weeks and the rather, shall we say, unsavory weather conditions we've been treated to.
Two weeks ago, we had a 70-ish mile bike ride planned. Rosedale course. Flat to rolling terrain. No big deal. The weather was supposed to be a little cool with a 20% chance of light rain. We left early to get a jump on the crushers (19+ mph group). I was with Jim Opre and his band of angels. The ride started well and we had no mishaps. As we finished our first loop the skies opened. Not much, but just enough to make the roads treacherous to say the least. I also noticed that the front fork and headset on my bike was extremely loose. As we debated the wisdom of going out for another loop I attempted to tighten the headset on the bike, but then thought better of it. I'd do more damage than good. The headset was so loose I'm amazed I made it back without the entire handle-bar assembly and fork popping loose. Check your bikes before you ride kids. By this time the north wind had picked up to about 20-25 mph. The cold front had arrived. We slogged through a 40 minute brick run alternating between fighting the wind and having it blow us down the trail.
We also received word that Logan had gone down in a crash. He apparently was following Maurice and touched wheels. When this occurs the following rider almost without fail, goes down. This was no exception. A real bummer, because Logan's training had been going so well. He said as much on more than one occasion. And to be taken out by your coach, the cruelest cut of all.........hey......wait a minute....Hmmmmm. But I digress. Fortunately, Logan suffered fairly minor injuries that have him sidelined for a few weeks.
We also got word that Jeremiah broke a spoke, so he and I and Logan were both done cycling for the day.
Laurie, who hadn't ridden long the previous week, decided to go out for another loop on the bike. I suggested she lower the pressure in her tires to put a little more rubber on the road. It's what the pros do, I swear. At any rate, Laurie had a particularly nasty spill on Melber Road and ended up in the hospital with bumps and bruises. She posted the pics on the T3 website. Not good. Fortunately, no broken bones and she was back at spin practice by the following Thursday.
A day of carnage, to say the least.
This past week built on the Character 101 I referred to in an earlier post. The weather, once again wasn't going to cooperate. High winds were expected on Saturday, (a gust of over 50 mph was recorded in the area). Maurice and Chrissie changed the run to Saturday (18 miles) followed by 80 miles on the bike for Sunday. We were to do two 7 mile loops and a 4 mile loop at the Town Lake trail. First loop was to be easy, with a stronger second loop, and a final four miles being our strongest. I arrived early to get a jump start on the run. I met up with Robert and his friend Lisa from AustinFit and they joined me for the first loop. I went 8:20 / mile on the first loop. Dropped the pace to 7:45 / mile the second loop and finished the 4 mile loop around 7:30 / mile. With two miles remaining, I met up with George Schmitz. He was cruising along at a 7:30 pace and looked effortless. He said he was hurting. I couldn't tell. I rode his coattails the final 2 miles to finish off the 18. Did I mention the wind was howling???
Sunday's forecast was for less wind and cold temps early rising into the 60's. It was 34 degrees in the morning. I broke out the poor-man's feet warmers and bundled up. I departed with the early group, hoping to get about 4 1/2 hours on the bike. We pulled out on to Loop 360 and our plan changed. The wind was right out of the north, blowing steadily at 15-20 mph. Some of our group made it on traffic light and turned around, opting for 4 hours on the trainer (ugh). I put my head down and forged ahead. I rode with the group for about 100 yards and that was it for the rest of the day.
My thought was to ride ahead and then wait on them to catch up. As I pressed on the wind never let up. I averaged around 14 mph the first hour and that included some nice downhills. The second hour was worse. I saw 10 mph, 9 mph, 8 mph as I climbed hills that would normally require minimal effort. I then thought about turning around. Map my ride said the road ended at Parmer and CR 286. (36 miles in). 72 miles in these conditions wouldn't be bad, I thought. I arrived at the intersection only to find that the kind folks at Roads and Bridges had extended the road. I was going to get my 40 miles in afterall. Good times. All told, it took just under three hours to get out to the 40 mile mark.
Now for the trip back. After slogging along at 15 mph, I was suddenly doing 20 + mph. Cruising along at 25 mph. I saw 30 mph on one stretch. This was much nicer. I saw my group still on the way out. I think I had 3-4 miles on them at that point. I decided to press on. The trip back, including a stop at the convenience store for some much needed Nutter Butters took a little over 2 hours. I averaged a scorching 16.6 mph for the entire ride. Disheartening at best.
I glad I got out there and did it, in hindsight. It seemed nuts at the time. If I can ride in those conditions, I can handled just about anything. Mother Nature's made her point. Maybe we'll get a break by race day.