Steve and I rode the Puttin’ on the Styx 200k permanent yesterday. We were the only recumbents in a group of 8 bikes. We left out of Rockwall at 6:30 am.
We kept a fairly moderate pace all the way to the first control at mile 15.1. It wasn’t much further down the road before the pace picked up. As usual, Steve and I were riding off the back of the group, and were slow noticing that Jeff Elmer in front of us had been dropped. We took off, and after riding at 25 mph for a good stretch, caught the group. However, I was too blown up by then to stay with the group, and told Steve I was going to have to slow down. He could probably have stayed with them, but agreed that it was a faster pace than he wanted, and we slowed down, though still riding a brisk pace, mostly at 19 to 21 mph.
We were just a couple of minutes behind the group as we pulled into the next control in Kaufman at mile 41.8. We left right behind them, and watched as they pulled further and further away from us. George Elizondo would later tell us that Mark Metcalfe was taking pulls at 23 mph, Charlie and Pat on their tandem were taking pulls at 23 mph, and Richard Wittenburg was taking pulls at 21 mph. It would have been fun to see how long I could have hung with that kind of pace line on a flat route last year, but there’s no way I could do it for any length of time right now.
The ride took us into Gun Barrel City and Seven Points at Lake Cedar Creek on roads that were WAY too busy for me to be comfortable with. Our next control was supposed to be at Seven Points, mile 70, but we couldn’t find it. After circling the area, with vehicles backed up every direction at the main intersection, we finally found a store clerk at the Shamrock, who knew that the store which was supposed to be our control had closed. We were standing outside the Shamrock, debating what to do, when I saw the group appear at the intersection, and I shouted at Mark, asking what to do. He said not to worry about the control, that we were covered.
Jeff had come in a few minutes behind us. We took a break at the Shamrock, then continued on. Somewhere on the 30 mile stretch to the next control, fatigue started to set in on me from the earlier fast pace and the heat. My feet were screaming at me from all the miles of chipseal on this route. Steve and I slowed somewhat on this stretch, and he was starting to have to really wait for me on the hills (there wasn’t a really big hill on the entire route, though).
When we arrived at the next control at mile 103.3 in Crandall, George was waiting there. He had hung with the fast group for more than 70 miles, then had to ease off. I still showed a 17.2 mph on the bike average when we pulled into the control. That’s faster than I would have thought I was capable of for a century, in my present state. Jeff was just a few minutes behind us, and we took a longer break at this control, to cool off and give our feet a break. Steve and I both shed our shoes.
Steve and I rode with George and Jeff the rest of the ride. I knew I was going to have to ride a slower pace for the rest of the way, and the easier pace that George and Jeff set was welcome. We made an unscheduled stop at around mile 116, and again cooled off and rested our feet. I laughed as I noted that George, after riding his upright, put his feet up to rest them, while Steve and I put ours on the floor to get a break from the recumbent position. There were some rolling hills on the last part of the ride, and we did get a break from the chipseal here, but also hit a couple of stretches of really rough roads. There are quite a few small lakes and ponds in this area, surrounded by some of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen. We arrived back in Rockwall just before 4:30.
I completed the ride in 9:57. Total mileage was 131.7, with an on the bike average of 16.4 mph. Total climbing was 3600 feet. George, Steve, and I stepped into the nearby Luigi’s restaurant for a good Italian dinner right after the ride, and traded war stories of the day. I enjoyed the ride a lot, but this route is never going to be one of my favorites, due to all the miles of chipseal, and the high traffic roads in Gun Barrel City and Seven Points.