Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Marble Falls RAAM Ride

Del told me about the RAAM ride in Marble Falls in February. I thought it sounded fun, but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do it or not. I have never ridden in Marble Falls because everyone always says it's "extremely hilly". I looked at the map for the 60 mile ride and realized part of it went out to Bertram & Oatmeal which I've ridden before, so I could probably handle it. Then the week of the ride Annette & Betsy suggested we ride about 85 miles of the 120 mile route that goes west  instead. I decided riding with friends sounded like more fun even though it meant riding on all roads I had never seen before. All I wanted from this ride was to have fun and ride 70+ miles.

Ride morning I checked fb and Annette had driven part of the route and said there was a 4 mile section of dirt/gravel that was "pretty much unrideable" and there were tons of cattle guards too and we'd need to "put our big girl pants on for this ride!" Yikes! But I was actually still feeling pretty good about the ride.

Del & I got to Marble Falls early and met up with Ingrid, Amy, Annette & Betsy. We figured out that we'd have a police escort at the beginning on 281, but Annette, Betsy and I had planned on riding out a few minutes after the 120 riders. As the ride started we quickly realized we had to go RIGHT NOW if we wanted the escort- oops! It turned out fine, but really got us going at the beginning!
Me and Spinnaker
 Even though the ride was pretty much  constant hills from the start, up or down all the time, I was having a great time! Annette and Betsy were so much fun to ride with! We talked and joked and pointed out wildflowers and animals along the route. We saw millions of bluebonnets and other wildflowers, we saw cows, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, wild turkeys, and an alpaca farm. The route was beautiful! After the first rest stop (and chatting with the church volunteers for a good 15+ minutes) we started hitting some cattle guards. I had only ridden over 2 cattle guards before and either they were extremely rough or I didn't do it right! So I asked Annette & Betsy for tips on how to ride them, they said don't slow down too much and make sure you hit them at a 90 degree angle, just like railroad tracks. Amazingly, these cattle guards didn't feel much worse than railroad tracks- cool! Betsy also offered to teach me to blow snot rockets since she is an expert, but for once my nose wasn't snotty, so I guess I'll have to take her up on that offer another time.
Betsy & her Bedazzled Bike
Annette & Buzz
 At rest stop 2 we told ride director Fred that we were taking a short cut and we'd see him at the last rest stop. We took our 11 mile short cut road, with lots of wildflowers, lots of hills, a big sheep farm, a few cattle guards and the strongest cross wind of the day. Then we turned onto the road with the gravel/dirt section, "The Road From Hell" as Annette had been calling it. At first it felt awesome, since we had a tailwind. But after a few miles the pavement ended and it really was a dirt/gravel road that was really wash boarded and had some big rocks sticking up! Yikes!

"The Road From Hell"
 But for the most part you could choose the best line and ride through it, like mountain biking (which I don't really do). Betsy was really good at it and we tried to follow her line when we could. It actually wasn't as bad as I had expected. There were also 2 super rough cattle guards and 2 low water crossings in this section, so we walked those.

low water crossing on "The Road From Hell"
 I think I averaged about 8 mph on that section. But I had planned on walking that 4 miles so 8 mph was a lot faster than expected! After "The Road From Hell" Betsy raced to the finish since she had family obligations, but Annette and I had no where to be and enjoyed the wild flowers and hung out a long time at the last rest stop.

I hadn't expected it, but the last few miles was on a busy 2 lane road with no shoulder- Yikes! Way scarier than "The Road From Hell" Annette was behind me and kept yelling "car back" but there just wasn't anything we could do but hold our line- NOT FUN!  We got to 281 and it didn't look any better! We decided to cross as pedestrians and race to our turn. From there it was a nice ride into the park. I was surprised to see Logan there announcing and we got medals at the finish- cool!

I thought I'd start to feel pretty tired & sore around mile 60 or so since I hadn't ridden more than 56 miles yet this year (and those miles were pretty flat), but I actually felt good the entire ride! I was getting tired of climbing by the last 10 miles, but that was 30 miles longer than I'd ridden this year and probably hillier than anything I've EVER ridden. Aside from the trafficy last 5 miles and maybe "The Road From Hell" this was an awesome, beautiful, fun ride!

Post ride Annette & I got some food & beer and met up with Del, Ingrid & Amy, then we headed over to the Blue Bonnet Cafe for pie- my first experience there- Yum!

Post ride pie!
Annette added a few notes about the ride, I forgot to include a couple of fun jokes that she remembered, so here are Annette's additions: "Heather Herrick wrote up a nice report about the RAAM Cycling Challenge ride she, Betsy Tieman and I rode together last Saturday. Only a couple things to add: The first rest stop was at a church in Cypress Mill. Okay, THE church in Cypress Mill. The super-nice people there noticed Betsy petting the cat and a gentleman said, "his name is Pentecostal". I realized at that point that it was probably a joke and I should have noticed the denomination of the church. Used their restroom and discovered it was Episcopal (knee slap). I discovered the roctane gu hadn't made it to my jersey pocket so Betsy gave me one of her gels, chocolate cherry clif shot. MMM (thankyouthankyou). We rode past a donkey farm that had one of those iron archways across the entrance and it was labeled "Donkey Oaties". If you don't get it, say it out loud to someone else (another knee slap). You might have to do it more than once.. Heather pretty much covered the wildlife report, but I also managed to spot two snakes, both on their backs, one dead, one live. The weather could not have been more kind to us. Became a little windy at the end, but that made us more determined for barbecue and beer. Hope next year we get more friends to join us!"

1 comment:

Richard said...

Looks like it was a fun ride and some great pie!