Friday, June 10, 2011

The Mesquite Rodeo Ride

The Mesquite Rodeo Ride was a bit of an impromptu event for us.  My training schedule had me doing the usual group ride out of Rockwall Cycling but this rally is so close that just about the whole group rides it.  Last year this event was Julian's first ever bike rally.  Angelia and I rode the 33k route with him at a 13.6mph pace.
Last year's Mesquite Rodeo Ride
This year it was replacing a race-pace group ride so that's how I approached it.  There was also an early t-ball game for Connor to consider.  That pretty much eliminated the 100k route from my list of options so I set out to ride the fastest 75k route I could.  Meanwhile, Angelia was going to tackle the same 33k route she did last year.  I think she would've preferred more but there are no in-between routes.

We got to the site at a reasonable time, registered, pinned our numbers on, prepped the bikes, and hit the restrooms.  At this point I was trying to figure out where all the Rockwall Cycling (RC) guys were.  I'd seen 2 that I didn't recognize but that was it.  I knew Joey wouldn't appear until just before the start as he rides from Rockwall to Mesquite, does the 100k, then rides back home.  Yeah, better him than me.  Last year they all started right up front so I slowly began riding towards the line.  And there goes Joey ..... the other way!  Oh well, no doubt he'll be heading back up to the front shortly.  Around this time I come across riding buddy Keith, whom you may recall from previous posts.  We stand around for a bit waiting for the inevitable group of RC guys while Angelia chats with a rider about his recumbent.  The start time is inching closer so I wish my wife luck on her ride and Keith & I make our way towards the front by navigating the parking areas to the right of the pack.  When we get up there we notice all of the RC riders are on the left side of the pack.  No problem - the race doesn't start for several minutes and we can cut across.

Then suddenly, they announce the start of the rally and we're off!  The early start had Keith and I merging into the pack from the side, barely squeezing by a truck at the starting line.  Just like that, all plans to ride with the RC race group were shot.  We weren't going to catch them and we knew it, but that didn't stop us from stubbornly riding our asses off trying to close the gap.  Well, by taking off like that we formed a nice little pack of our own with Keith and I doing the bulk of the work early on.  Eventually some guys from Plano Cycling & Fitness took over and must have felt the need to impress someone because they really pushed the pace.  This was no rally, it had become a race.  My heartrate was holding steady at 95% its max.  I should also mention that Keith rode an 8mi time trial the night before (and placed in his age group - congrats!).  Well, he sure as heck wasn't getting any recovery today!  I had drifted to the back of the pack with the increased pace but had no intentions of getting dropped so I made a move to the right to move up closer to Keith who was about mid-pack.  The instant I moved to the right the people who had been in front of me slowed rapidly and collided sending one sprawling across the pavement.  It looked like he went down in the best possible way and likely avoided anything beyond some nasty road rash.  Glad I made my move when I did.  Shortly after, it became clear the Plano Cycling guys didn't have the "oomph" they had earlier.  My HR had just gone sub-threshold, I asked Keith how he felt, and we were definitely on the same page.  Yep, we broke out of the line to the left and went up to the front to re-establish the previous pace ..... and we stayed there.

As we suspected, most everyone riding in a pack like this was doing the 100k route while we were going to do the 75k.  The routes split and we wished the rest of the guys a good ride as me made the left turn.  One other guy from the pack split off with us.  23 miles of our 47mi route had been completed in about 1 hour.  Once it was down to just 3 of us we didn't go quite as hard but we weren't exactly taking it easy either.  We each took our pulls out front but made a point to stay together.  As we suspected, we were the first riders on the return routes.  This became more and more evident as they just weren't ready for us at the intersections.  At one spot a cop waved riders through on the outbound side and then waved the cars to start right as we entered the intersection from the other direction.  Keith had just had a close call hitting a hole in the road while getting a drink and then having a cop wave traffic towards him made for two heart-jumping moments in quick succession.  A bit later on the route a cop actually had to move his car out of the coned off bike lane for us to pass.  Soon a support vehicle went around and ahead of us.  From that point on we had no trouble and it made for a more relaxed finishing stretch.
The marker near mile 23 is where the 100k and 75k routes split.
Honestly, I just included this to break up this mound of text I'm writing.
For the last 7 miles we were on the same route as the 33k riders.  Many on that route had already finished but I noticed there were a LOT more families riding it this year.  I'm not sure I've ever seen that many kids on a route that distance.  Normally I'm shouting out encouragements but this time I was a bit more tight-lipped after a day of riding hard.  I was firmly focused on finishing this ride strongly.  Just before the finish is a "Texas hill" which translates to a 6% incline on an overpass.  I maintained as much pace as I could on it and Keith was right there on my wheel.  Somewhere in the process though we lost our 3rd wheel.  We slowed up for a bit at the crest but neither of us saw him so we went on ahead.  If memory served me right it was just a short straightaway then a turn to the left for the finish line so I gave it a final effort and completed the 47.2 miles in 2:17 for a 20.6mph average!  The first 22.8mi had been at a 22.5mph avg and the last 24.4mi when it was just the 3 of us was still a 19.2mph avg.  Rockwall Cycling represented with a 1-2 finish in the 75k.  Not too shabby and a confidence booster of a ride.  Well, until the main Rockwall group crossed the finish line a whopping 6 minutes later.  Really?  They rode an extra 25k and it only took them 6 minutes longer?  Talk about a sport giving you the "look how far you've come" and then following it up with "look how far you have to go" .... wow.  On the bright side, there's a bit of local pride knowing our shop put the hurt on for both the 100k and 75k routes!
Keith and I chilling after a great ride.
Angelia was relaxing inside the post-ride pavilion and reported she had a great ride as well ..... though not exactly uneventful.  The pace was good and she was in good spirits.  However, early on she was basically stopped for about 5 minutes as a pile-up of cyclists had occurred at one of the turns.  She reported about 10 down, bloody faces, and medical personnel on site.  I have since read a couple other accounts of less serious incidents at the same location.  Apparently there was a lip in the road of a couple inches that was causing the issues.  Later in the ride there was another hiccup as someone had put a misleading turn marking in the road.  Angelia and several other riders made the turn and unwittingly added several miles to the route.  The route monitors got this straightened up fairly quickly.  This explained the excessive markings in one stretch on my return route where a turn arrow had been spray painted over.  In a way, it was a good thing for Angelia as she wasn't opposed to some additional mileage.  I think she and the others would've preferred it was planned mileage though.

Overall this is a great ride with fast routes at each distance.  The ride support was excellent, especially at adjusting on the fly (i.e. correcting the turn marking, sending a vehicle ahead of us on the return, accident response, etc.).  Also, the post-event grub was good.  Chicken sandwiches, a wide variety of drinks, and ...... a freezer full of Blue Bell treats like fruit pops, ice cream sandwiches, fudgesicles, and so much more - yum!  Only real complaint?  No sign of an official event photographer.  Since when does an event like this not have a photographer?  I was really hoping for a shot of Keith and I working hard at the front of a pack.  Oh well, maybe next time.  No time to pout ..... it's time for t-ball!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't have a road bike so I've never been in a bike race. That scares me!!