Sunday, October 19, 2008

Outlaw Trail 100

Start.jpgWell I finally did it. I rode 65 miles in four hours and twelve minutes. There were a couple of stops - I didn't make it all that way without taking a break. The first was the longest as it included some hamstring stretching time and a quick phone call to my sister Patsy, "23 miles down and 40 to go." is the message I left on her voicemail. It was fun at the first stop because it looked a little like a biker bar. Rows of bikes lined the shoulders. At the second and third stop I rode right up to the cookie baskets, grabbed a couple chocolate chips and off I went. Walburg.jpgMile 23 takes you through the city of Walburg. It's a cool little town. Lots of rust covered farm equipment everywhere, beautiful little homes and no noise except for the visiting cyclists and the occasional rooster.

I saw so many sites. I saw lots of award winning cattle, I mean these were gorgeous animals. They looked like they were just bathed. I saw goats, donkeys, turkeys, lots of horses and the prettiest were the Paint Horses. (sorry, no photos). I saw a cyclist fall, I saw some families working, but the coolest site of all was that of nobody rushing.Rest-Stop-Row.jpg

I have been planning this tour for a while now and I am so pleased with my accomplishment but actually a little sad that it's over. It has been my goal to go far but the farther I traveled the thinner the crowd became so at times it got kind of lonely. I do appreciate the solitude of this sport and in some of these photos you will see just how peaceful this ride was. There doesn't appear to be anything for a mile or so and that was pretty cool. These were big farms, recently plowed, so I saw soil so rich that it looked like dark chocolate. Stainless-Steel-_-Dirt.jpg

On the down side, this was out in the country, past the city limits sign, where the bumpy road met my tail bone line. As much as I appreciate flat road, I would have preferred more hammering up hills with my thighs screaming in pain, than the constant vibration against my bottom from the long and rocky "road". And I was wearing my really good shorts. I remember a conversation that I had with some guy after I turned onto a smooth road. I said, "Oh, thank God!" and he said, "Yep." -- true story. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining one bit. I loved it out there! Black-Poles.jpg

It was a huge surprise to me when energy hit me. After two hours of riding I sucked down a Mocha Clif Shot which is a little like chugging a small bottle of hersheys syrup. It's funny, one minute you think your legs are done for the day, "check out time", "see ya back at the truck" and the next minute your passing people left and right and laughing about it. "Uh, what was that about?"

curved-farm.jpgAlright, enough story. It was wonderful and I cannot wait for my first Century Ride. If only there could be 100 miles of smooth, quiet, country road, I'd be in heaven. Suggestions anyone? Oh, I forgot this one. I checked out the website tonight and browsed the 253 photos from the ride. The very last photo, number 253, where the slide show ends, there is a glimpse of me, Mr. Argyle jersey. Check this out....can you see me? Almost off screen.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

40 miles in the wind!

Hey, you know what I remember most about last year's Outlaw 100? It's the wind, the really strong windefaultd. Today was a lot like that and after my recent Steiner Ranch ride I feel like there is no avoiding the wind in Williamson County in October. I installed aerobars recently and have really enjoyed taking some of the pressure off my shoulders but also these things really allowed me to cut through the wind a little better when I didn't have to fight it.

I saw some beautiful sights today. First I saw a giant llama -- that was unusual. Sorry but no photo. A few miles later I rode around the back of a building that was next to a ranch and saw about 100 monarch butterflies enjoying a row defaultof wildflowers. I went down a County Road that I thought would take me past the cows that scared me on a recent ride but instead I found a wounded deer laying on the side of road. It was hard to see at first as it blended it with the brush and it was in the shade. It stared at me as I rode by and as I circled around again and again she turned her head, watching me. I called Patsy for help because I didn't like the idea of it dying there. As I pedaled off for the last time, I saw her lay her head down and I assume her time was fading. Patsy got in touch with Texas Parks and Wildlife and I hope that they made it in time to save her. I turned in tdefaulto check out the Preserve, a gorgeous community. These homes must be near a million dollars. They were absolutely amazing. I saw lots of healthy happy deer running in this neighborhood and I could hear little animals scurrying in the grass. On my way back out to the highway I saw horses being followed by donkeys.

It was a lovely ride and I wanted to keep going but then I remembered the Cowboys were playing so all of a sudden I wished that I was home. I inhaled my snacks and chugged my water hoping that it would give me the energy I needed to get home in a hurry. I got home, showered, dressed, made a protein smoothie and sat down just in time for the second half. Whew! I'm pooped.

My first 63 mile ride is coming up in 6 days. The plan is to cut back on the training and add to the energy reserves. I'm eating healthy all week and hope to store in my body the stuff I need for a long long ride.

Sweet dreams. I'm off to bed.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

True Fitness!

defaultAnd I was worried about working out at the hotel....HA! I really thought that it would be too easy and I'd miss my bike at home. How wrong I was. Those machines really kicked my butt. My legs were hurtin' ALL DAY LONG! Oh and thank goodness for the towels and the cup holders. I have read about interval training but I have never really tried except for when I used to run. I did the interval program on this machine and it was tough.

The second day I went to the fitness room at 5:30am and this is after drinking with Patsy and Jane until midnight. There was an someone on my machine so I had to try out the elliptical machine instead. How lame right? NOT! I would recommend the Radisson fitness centers to anyone. Luckily the recumbant bike machine was free after 20 minutes on the elliptical.

Summary: no excuses for any of our travelling siblings. Get your butts out of bed and down to the fitness rooms. Oh and if available, try the Radisson. They have Sleep Number beds and great fitness centers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cycling Steiner Ranch

defaultI took a different route today. Instead of my normal rides I chose to focus on hills. Feeling a little groggy I decided not to go all the way down to Mansfield Dam but turn into Steiner Ranch instead. I have never been down these roads before so I found myself going at a slightly slower than usual pace - not much really but down these steep hills I did grip the brakes tightly. My back didn't hurt when standing up on the bike so I pushed myself to be stronger on the inclines. It was a beautiful day but at these heights the greatest challenge was the crosswinds. As soon as I cleared a group of trees or a building the winds came hard and fast over the tops of these hills. So hard sometimes that I thought I was going to blow over.

Lake-View.jpgThe views were beautiful. I still feel the need to compete somehow with the landscapes that Cindy enjoys while cycling Charlottesville, VA. These are a few that I took with my phone. I now take my cell phone with me as a safety precaution because the more that I ride the farther away from home I get. And if I encounter any mechanical trouble or take a spill like Patsy did I'll be in trouble without it.

I made it up the biggest hill today without stopping. I was so proud of myself. It felt like my lungs were baking as I gasped for more HOT air. Have you seen one of those cartoons where the character is yelling and his mouth is like 4 times bigger than normal? That is how I imagined mflowers.jpgyself as I went up this hill. I guess that little chuckle I made was just enough to stay positive when the pain in my legs kicked in. I can't say that I'll try this again any time soon but knowing that I made it made a big difference in my heart.

Anyway, I'll be on the stationary bike at the hotel for the next few days. We'll see how that goes. I'll be thinking about you guys and remembering my trip through Steiner Ranch.