I didn’t hear a count of how many riders were at the Italy LSR brevets, but it looked like 30 or so. Most seemed to do the 300k, as did rbent members Steve, Peggy, Bryan, Shellene, Mark M, and me.
The 300k route goes from Italy south to Dawson for the second control, then southeast to Mexia, east to Teague, then south to Jewett. It turns around at Jewett, coming back north 5 miles on the same highway, before turning west to Groesbeck. Then 30 miles more to the northwest is the favorite Dixie’s Little Stop in Mount Calm. Another 38 miles north takes you back to Italy.
As much as I struggled with the heat the week before on a 200k ride, I’m not sure what made me think a 300k this week would work better, and I struggled with the heat again. This was more like what usually happens when I crater on a bike ride though. I just got very slow and had no power on the bike. I never felt as bad as I had the week before. I think maybe that was because once I started feeling cratered, I eased my effort level to a tempo pace, and kept it there, in spite of how slow I was going. That was tougher to do on last week’s ride, with the climbs at the end.
We rode out of Italy as 5:00 am, to avoid the Tour de Italia start. Steve, Peggy, and I wanted to ride hard and get as far as we could before it got hot. I knew I wasn’t going to make great time in the wind and heat, but a 15 hour ride would get us back before dark, so that was what I was pretty much aiming for. The south wind was already howling though, and riding against it, even though the hills on most of this route are pretty easy, I was soon off the back of the main group. In spite of my hard effort, my average speed against the wind wasn’t very good.
With this many riders, this was a classic brevet, which scatters riders all along the course, and whenever you pull into a control, there are riders already there, and more riders coming in behind you. The chatter at the controls is part of the charm of these rides. By the time I reached the fourth control at Teague at mile 67, I was feeling the effects of my hard riding. And the mostly uphill and against the wind stretch to the next control at Jewett is the toughest leg of the entire ride, to me. I knew I needed to ease my pace a bit at this point.
I fell in with a sizeable group, leaving out of Teague. I thought that if I could draft some, it would make this leg easier. But the group only stayed together for a couple of miles. Steve and Peggy took off, then a couple of other riders in the group took off, and that shelled the group, scattering riders everywhere, with me off the back. Mark M, tired from time trials on Tuesday and Friday, and riding a slower pace than usual, caught me at this point, and we rode together most of the way to Jewett. On his upright, he would leave me behind on the hills, and I would shoot past him on the downhills, and we rode together and talked on the flatter stretches. The ride turns around at Jewett, and just a few miles before we reached it, we met a faster group on the ride coming back. Bryan and Shellene were in this group.
I arrived at Jewett, at mile 93, shortly before noon, so I figured I was a bit ahead of my 15 hour pace. The ride north out of Jewett was the first good tailwind of the day, and I made great time. After we turned west onto the rolling hills of SH164 though, I started feeling really tired. I turned the intended quick stop at Groesbeck into a longer stop to cool off, and downed some ice cream. Then, off toward Little Dixie’s we headed, Steve, Peggy, Mark M, and me.
Just out of Groesbeck, Mark flatted, and told us to ride on, and he would catch up. Somewhere a few miles later is where I really started slowing down. Somewhere around mile 135, Debbie B and Cheri B passed me, and I knew I was in bad shape. At the last couple of controls, Cheri had looked to be really struggling, and it could not be a good sign that she was passing me. A mile or two later, Cheri had to stop with leg cramps, and Peggy stopped with her. I figured I was going to be doing well to get myself in, and rode on. Steve G, riding with Debbie and Cheri, had already had to stop and cool off.
Debbie had gotten far enough ahead of Cheri that she didn’t realize that Cheri had stopped. As she waited at a stop sign, Steve and I told her about Cheri, and suggested we stop at a shady spot somewhere ahead. Steve mentioned a covered church pavillion at Prarie Hill, and it occurred to me that there would probably be a water spigot there, so we agreed to stop and regroup there. I was truly riding in slow motion by the time we reached there, and the water and breeze in the shade helped a lot.
We rode the 10 miles to Little Dixie’s, and took another break there. With evening coming on, Debbie, Cheri, Steve, Peggy, Mark and I left Little Dixie’s together for the last 38 miles of the ride, with Steve G still there as we left. I was soon off the back of the group, with Cheri behind me. Mark fell back to ride with Cheri, and Steve fell back to ride with me. Debbie’s light was not working and she also was leading an FWBA ride the next morning, so she really wanted to make sure she finished before dark and not end up on the course too late. So, she and Peggy hammered on ahead to finish. It says a lot about how strong these two are, that they were able to ride this hard after this kind of mileage on a day so hot.
Steve and I made a 10 minute stop in Mertens for a Coke from a machine beside the road, and finished the ride just before dark. Mark and Cheri were just a few minutes behind us. I ended up with 191.5 miles, and a total time of 15:33. Thanks to everyone for the company and encouragement on this tough ride. After we were done, we enjoyed a good meal at the Subway in Italy, and as I left for home at 9:20 pm, the temperature gage in my truck read 90 degrees. You have to love June in North Texas.