Texas Motor Speedway Duathlon). It's a fair drive for us but worth it for the early 7am start. After all, it's been hot in Texas. How hot? I could tell you how many consecutive triple-digit days we've had but this paints a clearer picture ..... the other night my youngest complained that the shower water was too warm ...... I had it on cold. This time of year we don't get hot and cold running water, we get hot and not quite as hot. Yes, refrigerating your hydration overnight is important.
When we arrived the first order of business was to hit the restroom. One nice thing about the event being held at the racetrack is you get full shower & toilet facilities instead of porta-potties. However, it was still early and the lights weren't on. Inside there'd be an occasional eerie glow from a cell phone but otherwise it was pitch black. Navigating public restrooms in pitch blackness is a bit of an odd scenario. You can't exactly feel your way around! This is further complicated when you're in cycling bibs which can produce bathroom challenges of their own.
We got our bikes set up and Angelia went to get our event shirts which for some reason were not available at the early packet pickups. No sooner did she get to the end of the parking lot than she turned around. Flat tire! Neither of us brought multiple tubes so before the rally had even started, she had used her one spare tube. The tire change also meant we were running a bit behind and needed to hustle. We made it to the line on time, even nudging our way up towards the front where our fellow Cheesy Riders had gathered. We listened to the national anthem and we're off!
The ride starts with a loop around the track. They keep you down on the apron through the turns but you can get up on the banking in the straightaways. It's kind of a cool way to start a rally. After completing a lap you turn back through the start line in the opposite direction. As I made the turn I waved at Angelia and Julian. Little did I know that mere moments later Julian would come to a sudden stop and Angelia unable to unclip would take a tumble. She banged her knee pretty good and was concerned about her ability to continue. Of course, I was long gone by this point so if she didn't continue then Julian would miss out on his ride too. So she forged ahead.
Ang & Julian - a Tale of Two Rides
Chris - a Tale of Ugh
My goal on this ride was to stick with the lead pack and be self-sufficient (no rest stops). I had 3 bottles and an assortment of nutrition options. Unfortunately, the initial lap around TMS stretched the field and made it tough for packs to form after exiting through the single lane tunnel. A couple miles in I hooked up with a small group and did my first ever echelon as the crosswinds were significant. It was a fight for me to stay with them and I got gapped (more like dropped) at the 16mi mark. Not good. One bright spot was I did some of my best time-trialing for the next 4mi trying to close (and I did .... a little). In fact, this was my fastest stretch on the entire ride (by FAR) even though I was solo at the time. I was closing on them when my Garmin alerted me I was off course. I turned around and took it a bit easier hoping the group would realize their error and soon catch up to me. It never happened but a larger, faster group came by. I hooked on with them to the turnaround point for our route. Surprisingly they stopped here so I scrapped my initial plan and took a moment too.
I hit the porta-john, had a half-banana, and began to wonder how long the pack was stopping. It was longer than I planned on so I took off as a solo rider. Eight miles later, at the 40mi mark, they caught me. We were flying along on some challenging terrain (horrible roads, headwind, and 7% grades) until I dropped my chain. Say goodbye to that group. Other than briefly hooking up with a group of 4 for some wind relief, the remainder was a solo effort. Then, at the 60mi mark my right knee went. The quads and hamstrings had both shown the early signs of giving out but the knee was sudden. The pain was sharp just above the knee on the inside. With only 4mi to go I kept pushing forward and soon discovered it only bugged me on climbs. I was perfectly fine on the flats. Overall the ride was just brutal roads with wind and a few more climbs than I expected. In fact I disliked the route so much I have no plans of ever riding that one again.
When I crossed the line, Angelia and Julian were already eating and relaxing under a canopy. The rally had all the usual stuff with food, music, and massages. I thought it strange they only had chair massages though. This is a cycling event people .... table massages are needed to work the quads and hammies!
I should mention that both Angelia's knee and my knee ended up being fine after a couple days of rest and ice. No long term ill effects here. We both ran successfully yesterday, and this morning I even did my hill route so if it was going to flare up I gave it plenty of opportunity.
Stay tuned for my next post when I explain why I was so determined to finish with the lead pack ..... any guesses?