Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hill Country Ride for AIDS

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who donated so that I could ride! I had a great time, but more importantly, many people in the Austin area will get the help they need because of your generous donations!

I had originally planned to ride 100 miles with Shayla and Carol, but Shayla got injured and was unable to ride, so it was just Carol and I, it would be her first 100 mile ride ever-exciting! I knew we would have fun and have an awesome day, after seeing all the pit stop themes, decorated SAG vehicles, costumed riders and encouraging signs on the 70 mile route with Shayla last year. But I also knew we'd have to limit our time at pit stops since Shayla and I took over 7 hours to ride 70 miles last year and there was an official cutoff time at 4:00.

Carol and I decided to start a little earlier than the official start, so we got out to Reunion Ranch early. I got some granola for breakfast, said hi to ride director David Smith, and we got our official wristbands from Robert (Carol's husband- it pays to have volunteer connections). We took off a little after 7:00 and rode toward Andice. We knew the Andice pit stop wouldn't be open yet since we started a little early, but as we rode by Carol said "look what we're missing!" Wonder Woman and Bat Girl were setting up a table for food!
Image by Leisa Meeting Productions
We rode along enjoying the morning, but I noticed the tall grass was really bending and blowing in the wind, the wind usually picks up throughout the day, so I knew it might get really windy later! Carol and I had both forgotten to look at the forecast and just figured we'd deal with whatever came our way. After about 10 miles it was windy enough that we rode single file since we couldn't really talk anyway and we couldn't hear cars coming up behind us. We rode through the 2 mile "Ride of Silence" and thought of all the people we know who have lost loved ones to AIDS.

Carol and I with the Texas Rollergirls
I had kind of hoped that since we had started early the super fast riders wouldn't pass us until after the Bertram pit stop, but about mile 17 a couple riders passed, then just a mile or so before the pit stop I heard "ring ring ring!!" I forgot that Roger has that bell on his bike! Ron, Roger & Del rode by and said hi, we pulled into the Texas Rollergirls pit stop with them. I'm not sure I ever specifically told Carol this (and I probably should have) but I planned to limit the time at each pit stop to 10 minutes or less so we would finish before 4:00. I knew it would be a challenge since I would have to get water and anything else I needed plus thank and chat with the volunteers and other riders, take pictures, send texts to Shayla and Jeff and maybe even update facebook. Even with a restroom stop, taking pictures with the Rollergirls and talking with "Ronger" and Del, I don't think we were at the Bertram pit more than 10 minutes.

Spinnaker with the Rollergirl cutouts
We rode toward Burnet, at this point there were more hills and more wind, but also more riders and tons of beautiful wildflowers (lots of Indian blanket and yellow daisies), and encouraging signs along the way (the fun encouraging signs are one of the best parts of the HCRA!). I wish I had stopped to take pictures of flowers and signs. But I told Jeff "if I stopped to take pictures of everything I wanted along bike routes, I'd never finish a ride!" We rode into Burnet and along a quiet residential street we saw 3 chickens, Carol slowed down and they decided to run and sort of fly across the street right in front of her! The Burnet pit theme was "The Essence of Fluorescence". I'm pretty sure we were there more than my planned 10 minutes mostly because I leaned my bike against a sign post and it blew over, so I had to repack my bento box and check my derailleur before leaving.
The Essence of Fluorescence in Burnet
On the next section we got some tailwind, which felt awesome! We decided to pass by the lunch pit since it was only 10:30 and we'd pass it again after the century loop. As we rode by the Mardi Gras people in the street they seemed really sad that we weren't stopping, so I told them "we'll be back in a couple hours" they said "we'll be here! have a great ride!" All of the HCRA volunteers are super supportive and awesome! The route was pretty much the same as last year, so I had ridden all of it except for the 30 mile loop added on for the century ride. A couple miles past the lunch pit we turned onto the century loop and I was in new territory. The first few miles were tailwind and smooth road- Nice!
one of the many SAG trucks we saw during the ride
Then we turned onto a chip sealed road that was an absolute wind tunnel! We got a head/cross wind, I think the cross gusts were the worst, I felt like I was leaning into the gusts at a 45 degree angle just to stay in control! I'm sure it was only a few miles, but this road felt like forever! By the time I got to the Tattoo pit stop at mile 60, I was out of Infinit (I had more powder, but had to mix it) and ready for a break! I paid attention this time, I pulled in at 12:03, Carol was a few minutes behind me. I mixed Infinit and let a volunteer apply my peace tattoo.
my peace tattoo from the century pit stop
I didn't realize it at the time, but temporary tattoos are a badge of honor at the HCRA meaning that you did the Century Ride, since they are only offered at the century pit stop. (I found this out back at the ranch when Mike said hi to me and "I see you rode the Century today" I said, "how did you know? do I look that bad?" and he said "no! you got a tattoo! Only Century riders get tattoos..."). Carol got a tattoo and then introduced me to a couple of her former Texas Iron teammates who I had been playing tag with on that windy road. By the time I got back on my bike, it was 12:25, I had spent 22 minutes at that pit stop- oops!
SAG motorcycle Fairy seen at the century pit, his wings even flapped as he flew down the road on his motorcycle!
 Because of the way the route was laid out, I knew we'd get headwind and crosswind all the way back to the lunch pit stop. We rode with Trish and Rhonda (Carol's TxFe friends). This was pretty tough too, with some pretty significant hills and lots of rough cattleguards, and of course that wind! But it was quiet and beautiful too. I was SO happy to finally get back to the lunch Mardi Gras pit stop at mile 76! The 30 mile Century loop was tough! Carol and I ate a little food and chatted with the volunteers, then filled bottles and reapplied sunscreen. I didn't time this stop, but I bet it was 20-30 minutes. The next few miles felt great! We were back on the road I knew, we had some tailwind and as Carol said "I can handle 24 miles, that's just really not all that far".
Mardi Gras pit stop crew and a cowboy who was "not a cowboy, I'm a Village Person"
Eating in the shade with Carol and showing off my peace tattoo
At mile 87, I pulled off at the Mohomet pit stop to wait for Carol, and take a picture. We were getting close to 3:00 so I didn't want to stop for long. Carol got there, we got a picture and then she disappeared! I thought she had left already, but then I saw her bike leaned up against a building, so I hung out and talked with some of the SAG crew. She came back and told me I had missed out! They served her gatorade in a champagne glass and little cucumber tea sandwiches! aww man!!! As we got ready to leave, a SAG volunteer stopped us and said "we're getting close on time, we may need to SAG you in" Carol said she was NOT getting in a SAG vehicle and I told the volunteer, "this is her very first century ride, please let us just go" but she had to get the ok from the head of SAG, so we waited, it felt like forever (it was probably only about a minute) when the head of SAG finally came over I said "we have 13 miles to go and 1 hour, we can do that!" and she said "yeah you're fine, these guys are good to go, it's the people BEHIND them we need to start SAGing in. You girls look great, keep it up! oh and there's one more pit stop- the POPSICLE stop! You HAVE to get a popsicle!" I never turn down popsicles!
Mickey SAG crew, I told them oh you look like Mickey from sorcerer's apprentice, they said "we don't look like Mickey we ARE Mickey Mouse!"
Carol and I at mile 87!
 We took off and again I got ahead of Carol, I didn't realize it at the time, but I was feeling extra peppy (I need to figure out why and try to replicate it!) and I assume Carol was starting to get tired (who wouldn't be on a super windy century ride!), which is probably why I kept getting ahead of her without realizing it the last 30-40 miles. I got to the Popsicle stop run by the guys from the Dragon's Lair Comic Book store, I got a coconut popsicle and thanked the guys for staying out there a little longer (they had planned to close that stop at 3, and it was probably 3:15 or so by then). They said "no one expected the wind to be so brutal today" They were really nice and even posed for a picture. They also told me their customers had donated over $2400 to the ride- very cool! After Carol finished her popsicle we took off for the last 9 miles of the ride.
Guys from the Dragon's Lair Comic Book store with POPSICLES!
We hit some headwind again and I knew we wouldn't finish before 4:00. I was planning to wait and cross 183 with Carol, but police were there and they had traffic stopped for me, so I rode through the intersection then slowed down to let Carol catch up. But a SAG car came by and said "you have 7 miles to go and about 15 minutes to do it" For whatever reason that made me decide that I HAD to finish as close to 4:00 as humanly possible. I treated that last 7 miles like a time trial. It felt like I was on Pre-Race (an awesome First Endurance supplement that should only be used with extreme caution!) and the only thing that mattered was finishing as close to 4:00 as possible! All of the SAG vehicles started to pass me, driving in for the SAG parade, I couldn't believe how many there were, over 30 for sure and all decorated!
this was the Lifeguard SAG crew
Most people in the SAG cars cheered me on as they drove by. One guy leaned out his window gave me huge thumbs up and yelled "YEAH!!!" I passed 7 or 8 riders in the last few miles and as I was getting close to Reunion Ranch I tried to read a sign at the side of the road, it said "One more HILL" oh yeah, I remembered that last hill from last year! I rode into Reunion Ranch and toward the finish, I was shocked at how many people were still crowded around the finish and cheering! I stopped and got a big hug and a medal from ride director David Smith! Someone put a cold towel on my neck and I told her I loved her. Then David said "wait, did you ride the Century?" "yeah" "Wow! you are way too chipper to have just ridden 100 miles!" He was right! I don't know why, but I felt great, not tired at all, I even had trouble sleeping that night. It was 4:08 when I finished.
Carol and I at the FINISH!
I'll let Carol tell her own story of finishing her first Century ride, but I will say that it was a very, very tough day for a long ride, even Del, Ron & Roger all said it was really hard and WINDY. I am amazed at Carol's determination to finish no matter what! I am so happy that I could be part of her first Century ride! Congratulations Carol!!

Del post ride showing off his century tattoo
I stayed for dinner and the closing ceremonies and found out the total raised this year was over $585,000!!! AWESOME!!! Again, THANK YOU to everyone who helped contribute to that!

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