Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Texas Hell Week day 5: Fast Katie, banquet

Yesterday was a very disciplined ride. There were several alternatives, one of which was the longer of two 'B' routes, taking the longer, hillier loop. Since I was more into the hills than the distance, I cut some mileage earlier in the route by taking a little shortcut. After a while people started settling into groups, and I ended up in a group that would rocket past me, then sit up and relax so I had to wind my way through the group again. One of the guys in the group was riding a tri-bike and was all over the road, as well as a newbie that no one wanted to take the wheel of. Otherwise pretty much everyone else were seasoned veteran cyclist. Sascha and I were noticing that we were among the youngest of the Hell Weekers, which I've found to be pretty typical of these kind of rides. Yet many of these guys were pretty hard-core. Anyway, the goal was to keep the effort steady and get in some long steady distance at this point in the season, hence the discipline of not playing yo-yo with the group and riding my own pace.
__A woman in the group asked me a couple of times what route I was doing and how it was laid out. We all arrived at the store together, and I offered her my map to show how they laid out the alternatives. She (Katie) was riding with a guy who was looking for the easier route, but she was apparently frisky for some miles. They took the flat 10 mile loop from the store, and I took the hilly 20 mile route. The hilly route wasn't too bad - lots of rollers, many of which you could just power over with help from the previous descent. The hills got tougher by the end of the loop, though, and I was ready to rest at the store again when it was over! Katie and her companion were at the store when I got back, so we chatted some more, and she persuaded me to take the longer route back with her, since we'd all been riding the same pace on the way out. This actually worked for me too, since it avoided a highway that, while direct, wasn't very much fun. Fast Katie from Dallas is a strong rider, and between hammering on the way out and riding with Katie on the way back, I averaged 16.8 for the 75 mile ride. I slowed down quite a bit on the miles into town because it started pouring rain. The pouring rain on the last leg (which finally dumped out onto the highway) scared Katie, so she took off for town and dropped my ass on the next hill.
__Back at the hotel I jumped in the warm tub, then headed out for coffee after texting Sascha. At the coffee shop I finally got a call from Sascha - apparently she had some drivetrain issues, and her friend Robin from Austin had a flat, so a mini version of my first day!
__After coffee we headed over to the Hell Week banquet. All of us starving by this point and pestering the staff for at least some beer since we were a bit early for dinner. The food was good, better than the usual spaghetti feed fare, as was the beer (Fat Tire). Sascha's friend Katie had met up with some friends from Houston, so we had a nice dinner group to chat with. The next day is the Leakey Death ride, so we didn't stick around too long, since everyone had to get up at 6am to drive to the start of this ride. Tomorrow: Brush with Death!