LSR Italy 300K brevet

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.

Rio Vista Rumble 200k

Steve, Peggy, Nelson, Mark M, and I headed out of Lynn Creek Marina at Joe Pool Lake shortly after 7:00 am this morning to ride the Rio Vista Rumble 200k permanent. This route goes southwest out through Venus, Alvarado, and Rio Vista on its way to a control stop near Blum. Then it turns east to Covington, then south and east to Itasca, before a stop in Maypearl. Then it’s on to Midlothian and down Lake Ridge Parkway to the finish.

I decided to ride the Roadster today. I had never done a 200k on it and figured this route would be a good test for it. There are rough roads in places, and stretches of chipseal. It ended up being more of a test than I bargained for. Two miles of CR 401 on the other side of Alvarado is gravel right now, and thick gravel in places. A big dog on my arse while I fishtailed in the thick gravel isn’t the most pleasant of my memories from the ride today.

Come to think of it, there are plenty of memories from the ride that aren’t that pleasant. If you do enough of these long rides, you are bound to have days when you struggle just to finish, and this turned into one of those days for me.

The heat was brutal. Not only was it near 100 degrees, but with so much water on the ground from the rain this week, the humidity was also high. I usually do well in the heat, but on this, the first of the truly hot rides this year, I was plainly not well enough conditioned to the heat yet, for the effort I was putting out.

I felt fine early. We made a quick stop in Alvarado, then at the second control near Blum at 57 miles. The heat was definitely making an appearance by then, but I felt fine until the short, steep hill coming into Covington at mile 68. I had to go to my lowest gear for this hill, just to climb it. I’ve ridden the hill many times, and don’t usually struggle like that on it. I thought to myself that that probably didn’t bode well for the climbs later in the ride.

When we turned onto the chipseal on SH 171 shortly after that, I started falling further and further back, in spite of the fact that my heart rate kept going over 160. I felt like I was pedaling in mud, and not getting anywhere. Finally, just before the turn east at mile 73, I realized that I was riding on an almost flat rear tire. I stopped under a shade tree to fix the flat, and immediately realized that I was wiped out from the heat.

Nelson had turned around and helped me with the flat, and we then pedaled on. I quickly realized that I was still putting out a lot of effort and getting not very much speed from it. I would be just turning the pedals the rest of the ride. I’ve been in this situation many times before, no strength left to do anything but turn the pedals, but not this early in a long ride, and not in this kind of heat.

We made a quick stop in the shade in Itasca and had some water. I had my doubts about getting up Orpan Hill, just past Itasca, as well as the other remaining climbs. I was once again in my lowest gear on Orphan Hill, something I’ve never had to do on it before, but I did manage to climb it without stopping. When I pulled into the next control at Maypearl, Steve quickly handed me an RC (thanks, Steve), and I poured cold water on my head to cool off, then sat down to have a Nutty Buddy ice cream, the only thing that sounded good at the time. It occurred to me at that point that this was the most wiped out I had felt on a bike ride, ever. That distinction would not last long.

I was reasonably sure that I would not be able to make the next climb, up Old Buena Vista Road, without stopping to rest. This hill is tough for me, even on my best days. As I made the climb, I kept checking out shade trees ahead, for a possible stop. But I never did stop, slowly making my way to the top of the hill. The next big hill, on Singleton Road, was also a serious struggle, but I once again made the climb without stopping. This hill really seemed to take it all out of me though, and I started to wonder how much further I could ride after it.

Nelson fell back to ride with me shortly afterward, and stayed with me the rest of the way (thanks, Nelson). We had decided to stop at a Whataburger in Midlothian for a cool-off break, but about a mile before we got there, I decided that I could no longer turn the pedals, and turned into a circle driveway, and layed down in the shade. Thankfully, the homeowner did not come out with a shotgun to greet me.

If I were a gambling man, I would have bet on a DNF at that point. But, after laying down for a few minutes, then sitting in the shade and drinking some mix and water, I felt able to ride, and Nelson and I rode on to the Whataburger.

After a nice cool down, and cold caffeinated and sugary drink, I felt like I could finish the ride. There are no serious uphills going through Midlothian, and shortly after that, you hit the big downhill on Lake Ridge Parkway to finish the ride. I was feeble, but pedaled without a problem for the rest of the ride.

We finished in 11 hours even. Not one of my finer days on a bicycle, but now and then you’re going to have one of those days when you’re definitely the bug, and not the windshield, and that was the case for me, today.

With the shape I was in, it wasn’t a good day for a randonneuring comparison between the Roadster and Corsa, but I did get a few impressions from the ride. The ride of the Roadster on rough roads and chipseal is surprisingly good. My feet did bother me some later in the ride, but no more than usual on a hot day on these kinds of roads. The Roadster, with its 451 front wheel, does seem to be slowed slightly more than the Corsa on chipseal. And the carbon CCK seat is not as comfortable for me on a long ride as the wider Euromesh seat. Another thing that I noticed was that the Cool Wings I had on my arms, which usually evaporate sweat so well that they stay dry to the touch, don’t work nearly as well with this kind of humidity.

Ah, the pleasures of riding…

Rio Vista Rumble route

Bobcat Bite 100K permanent

I was among a mostly recumbent group that left Celina at 6:30 am this morning to ride the Bobcat Bite 100k permanent populaire. The riders included Steve, Peggy, Brian, Shellene, Nelson along with an upright friend (I’ve forgotten his name), Ken W, Sharon S, JS and Sara Kay. It was a beautiful morning with a light southeast wind as we headed northeast to Howe. I always enjoy the small roads this route takes when it turns off SH289 on this stretch.

There were the usual trips off the front by a few riders, but they would ease off to regroup, and most of us stayed together at a pace that wasn’t as fast as I expected. I was actually able to talk most of the time, except when the roads would turn uphill.

By the time we left Howe, the wind was really starting to blow. I was off the back a couple of times on the southbound stretch down SH289 to Gunter, a preview of what was to be whenever we rode against the wind. But the ride turns west out of Gunter, toward Tioga, and with a quartering tailwind on this stretch, it was fun riding at a faster pace. We made a little longer stop at the control in Tioga, and I downed my usual peanut butter and honey sandwich.

Heading south out of Tioga on SH377 began the tough part of the ride. The rough chipseal and rolling hills begin when you turn east onto FM455, and I fell back pretty quickly on this stretch. We regrouped just before Celina, and rode in together, to finish in 4:50. My gps showed 1,700 feet of climbing on the route.

We stopped for the usual lunch at Lucy’s afterward, and I had a great time visiting with everyone. It was great having JS and Sara Kay down for a Texas visit. Good luck at the Shenandoah 1200k next week, Sharon!