Thursday, March 20, 2008

Texas Hell Week 08 - Day 5 and 6

This was to be the highlight of the week - the famous Leakey Death Ride. I'd intended to do the full 100+ mile ride, but due to road construction that route was closed. The 75 mile option was like last year, and I wanted to do that rather than stay in town and do the 100 mile option that didn't involve driving. Sascha's Birchwood friends Patti and Heather, who've never done Hell Week, came along as well. I was looking forward to riding with Patti, who's a fit rowing and speedskating powerhouse getting into cycling for cross training. We drove out to the start, couldn't find the court house again, and just headed out. Patti and I drove into the headwind for the first five miles before we turned west. She's a very strong rider, so we made good progress and were evenly matched. Watch out Minnesota women - I bet she's going to be ripping some legs off this season! We were caught by a tandem riding group after a while and sat in for a bit while avoiding a sketchy rider with aero bars and a drunken line. I inserted myself between him and Patti to try and make things safer for her, being a relatively new rider. Eventually the tandem riders stopped, and the sketchy rider hitched a ride on our train. Patti later said that he'd told her that he didn't think he was welcome with the tandem crew. We eventually dropped him on the big stand-up-or-fall-over hill (think Ramsey hill, only three times as long!). Due to my crash the day before, I didn't have my loweest gear available (the derailleur was pinging the spokes a bit), so that made it even harder! Patti was right behind me the whole time - amazing for a new rider! Speedskating really does cross over to cycling, as Connie Carpenter proved in 1984. Pics should be coming, as I gave my email address to a lady at the top taking pictures for her husband.

At the store, we found out that the B route was also under construction! The hard core group that was assembled there decided to do it anyway, but Patti and I elected to be safe and just head back the way we came. Heather rolled in not long after we'd discussed our options - she's quite the little triathlete powerhouse herself! So back we went, my hamstrings screaming after yesterday's epic ride and one trip over the nasty hills already, plus getting cold at the store. However, the NNW side wind was slightly at our backs, so the trip back was in the big ring for the most part, and Patti dropped me on the big hill! We met up again later on and rode the rest of the way back into town with a nice tailwind and paceline going - exhilarating!

Back in town we stopped at the bestest BBQ place - Busbee's BBQ in Bandera. Yum! I had a really interesting conversation with Patti about skating and rowing. Seems that they're really not that different from cycling in terms of the core training and competitive principles! Judging from when Heather rolled into the store on the way out, we were expecting her any minute, but she texted me that she'd made a wrong turn! She ended up going about 12 miles out of her way, poor girl. But that was good for 82 miles, plus the ride back was much more pleasant with the tailwind anyway. Afterward, I was beat, so today I'm taking off the bike completely, and considering a century tomorrow.