This was to be my longest distance to date, 209k. The afternoon ended up being 93 degrees with a high humidity. If Italy is this hot in June, remind me never to schedule a visit with the Pope in the summer. It was a beautiful morning, though. Nelson, Ray, Jerry, and I set out from near Park Row and Bowen in Arlington at 6:30, and rode south down Bowen all the way to Sublett, then east on Sublett all the way to Lake Ridge Parkway, then south on Lake Ridge.
After a quick restroom stop at Lynn Creek Marina, we rode on south through Cedar Hill and Midlothian, stopping at the first control at mile 26, the Whataburger at Hwy 287 and Midlothian Road. Somewhere during this stretch, it occurred to me that I hadn’t gotten a brevet card from Nelson, and he said the cards were back in his vehicle. This oversight would end up making my day longer.
We next rode small rural roads until we hit Hwy 157 just north of Maypearl. We made another quick stop at the Exxon in Maypearl at mile 43, then continued on toward Italy. This stretch of roads had less traffic than just about any I’ve traveled, but during a five mile stretch of it, it had the same amount of elevation gain as the Lynn Creek Marina to Cedar Hill stretch, 270 feet. Jerry ended up put some distance between himself and Nelson and Ray on this stretch, and just like I had good sense, I stayed with Jerry. I knew Ray’s knee problems had been keeping him from riding as fast a pace as he would like, so I figured that was the reason for his falling back, but it now seems there was more to it than that.
We arrived at the second control in Italy at mile 60, and took a longer break here. Nelson and Ray arrived just a few minutes after Jerry and I. After leaving Italy, we rode east on Hwy 34, turning north on FM 877, just past Avalon. This road took us past some seriously fast sprinting dogs, and across the Lake Waxahachie dam, before bringing us into Waxahachie, and the last control, a Shell station on Business Hwy 287 at mile 86. I had to stop along this stretch and free a bug from under my cycling cap. It had apparently been there since the last control stop, and I kept having the sensation of something crawling on my head, only to discover that it wasn’t a phantom sensation; it really was a bug! Besides the dogs and dam and bug, the stretch of road from Avalon was memorable for being rough new chipseal, and a steady incline, and somewhere on this stretch, I hit the wall.
The rest of the ride, I was fine on flats or downhills, but I was plainly slowing Jerry down on any uphill. I would try to crank harder, but I would get no power, just a rise in heart rate. I don’t know if it was because it’s the first serious heat of the year, or I had maintained too fast a pace earlier in the ride, or if it was leftover effects of hammering Thursday evening. We made a fairly quick stop at the last control, and without waiting for Nelson and Ray to arrive, set out for Midlothian and Cedar Hill.
This stretch is also mostly gentle uphill riding, but with my lack of power, the uphills didn’t feel that gentle. The heat was brutal during this time too, and I had serious doubts about being able to finish the ride. Once we turned onto Lake Ridge Parkway, with all its downhills waiting though, I knew I was ok for the distance. We stopped at Lynn Creek Marina for water, and it ended up being a much longer stop than we planned, as we waited in line to pay for our water, and listened to the woman running the marina arguing with a group of kids (tip: don’t rent a boat at Joe Pool Lake and plan on them letting you take alcohol on it …….. on second thought, don’t take a boat on Joe Pool Lake on a summer weekend at all; leave it to the drunk kids). I think this longer than planned stop helped me recover some.
The remaining ride down Lake Ridge Parkway, Sublett, and then Bowen, was flat and easy, and we made good time, except for all the traffic light stops. The traffic on this stretch was a lot heavier than I like riding in, though. Just before the end of the ride, as we turned from Bowen onto Park Row, we smelled rain, and the pavement was wet. It was the second time in the ride we smelled rain, and was as close as we got to actually being rained on. The clouds that had showed up were certainly welcome.
Jerry and I finished the ride at 4:03. Total time was 9:33. Total miles were 128.5. Time on the bike was 7:48, for a 16.5 mph average. I was so slow during the 450 feet of elevation gain from Avalon at mile 70 to Cedar Hill at mile 105, that I surely lowered my average for the entire ride quite a bit. I’m glad there was only 3300 feet of climbing on this route; I might have had a tough time of it on this day on a route with bigger hills.
Because I had forgotten to get a brevet card from Nelson, I would have to wait for him, so I could get my card. It was my first brevet, so I did want to make it official. Jerry said Ray and Nelson would probably be along in 20 minutes or so as he rode off……… yeah right. I drove to a store and bought myself an ice cream bar and the persistent object of my craving after a long, hard ride…….. a bag of Fritos.
I sat in my truck at the ride start (a residential neighborhood) with the air conditioner running, doing my part to kill the ozone, for an hour and a half. Still, no Nelson. The neighbors were starting to peek at me between blinds, so I figured I’d better leave before they reported me as a stalker. I drove the route backwards until I finally spotted Nelson (with no sign of Ray), at Sublett and Collins in Arlington. This is very near my house, so I dropped off my bike at home, changed clothes, then drove back to the start.
Nelson arrived to finish his ride at 6:30, 12 hours after starting it. He informed me that Ray was back at Lynn Creek Marina, waiting for Nelson to pick him up. After several stops to try to recover, he was unable to continue.