Monday, August 15, 2011

Hot Rocks Bike Ride

Day one of this epic weekend started in a most curious way ...... with rain!  Here we are in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record and on the morning of the Hot Rocks Bike Ride it is nothing but clouds and rain.  This wasn't going to change anything as far as I was concerned but I wasn't sure how Angelia and Julian would handle it.  The long route has a race component to it and thus starts separately from the short route so I didn't see them much once the bikes came off the bike rack.  Below is the story of my ride followed by their experience as it was relayed to me.

My Day - A Tale of Water, Grime, and Riding with Streamers
The start gun fired and I ..... totally missed my pedal as my foot slipped awkwardly off it.  You'd think I had never clipped in before.  Just like that I was watching everyone pull away.  I ended up in a small 7-man group that included one other Rockwall Cycling racer.  It was weird with the weather as your choices were limited to 1) work hard in the wind, or 2) get pelted by grimy water from the wheels in the pack.  We kept it going at a solid pace and eventually shook off 3 of the riders.   The two non-RC riders were a little erratic with their efforts (and drafting).  On one of their unpredictable surges I reacted late and popped off the back.  Soon after I saw the other RC jersey drifting back to me.  I caught up to her and had one of my better efforts on the day as we bridged.  Eventually we were both popped off again 20-something miles in and decided to let them go.

Not the typical sunny day in north Texas
It was at this point the day started throwing little things at me.  The right bar end came off and my bar tape started unraveling.  It looked like I had a long red streamer on my handlebars.  Soon after that I threw my chain.  I got the chain back on quickly and tried to hook up with a pack that was passing but missed the tail end so it was a solo ride to the rest stop about 33mi in.  I planned on this being my only stop and a quick one at that.  I refilled my bottles, hit the portajohn, and re-wrapped the bar.  With no cap I just wrapped it with less overlap and stuffed a large portion in the end hoping it would hold.  I asked the volunteers if anyone had any tape but no luck.  One guy did have a tie-wrap though and I cinched that around the end to keep the tape in place.  While I was doing that, my friend Keith showed up.  Looks like I wouldn't have to finish solo!

We pulled out together and soon were swallowed up by a huge pack - the official pace group.  For awhile it was a nice pace with minimal effort and we just sat in.  By the time we were on the hillier section of the route ("hillier" is a relative term here) it became apparent neither Keith or I were thrilled with the way the group was riding the hills (bomb down but carry none of the pace back up). We decided to stick with them to a particular junction then pull away.  First, I had some other business to tend to .... another red streamer!  I guess the Lizard Skin bar tape and bar end caps just don't like the rain.  My right one is already tie-wrapped down and here I am re-wrapping my left one while going 30+mph downhill.  FYI, the force needed to stuff enough of the tape in the end to hold it is also enough force to turn your bike!  This became an interesting balancing act of pack position, pacing, stuffing the bar end and counteracting it with the opposite hand.  I (and everyone around me) survived so it was back to the game plan.  We made a left hand turn and took the shoulder.  We easily slipped past the pacesetters who had the group on fresh chipseal.  The gap we opened never closed.

Keith and I took turns pulling in the wind but would ride side-by-side in easier sections.  The route had a couple turns towards the end taking us off the I-30 access road and then back to it adding about a mile.  I thought that was a bit strange and am guessing it had to do with bypassing some construction.  In fact, at one point Keith and I had to slow because a construction vehicle pulled out in to the only available lane in front of us.  We crossed the line after 58+ miles feeling pretty good.  Both of our families were standing together at the finish.  If I had known that, I might have sprinted in for fun!
Considering I didn't "race" this course, I felt good about the 20+mph average.

Their Day - A Tale of Mom vs Son vs Random Kid
As we walked towards the post-race refreshments I could tell Angelia and Julian had a different kind of day from mine.  Heck, Julian's jersey was still white!  Mine was nowhere near its original color after nearly 3hrs of rainy riding.  But I knew there would be a story to tell because I sneaked a peek at his bike computer.  It looked to be one of his faster rides - a good sign.

Their course was a familiar 12+mi out-and-back route.  Apparently the out portion was just a typical ride -  Julian wasn't really pushing it and Angelia was ahead.  When she made the turnaround she saw Julian and another kid riding against each other.  She took it easy spinning up a hill to allow them to catch her a bit when ..... bam, they flew by her!  Uh-oh, Momma couldn't get beat by her 9yr old.  It was time to ride!  Julian wanted to use what he's learned and share the workload but the other boy just wanted to keep half-wheeling him as they battled it out.  Angelia had to slow at one intersection and when she was waved through she told the police officer that 2 boys were racing behind her and to make sure they could go right through.  In the end Julian won his battle and both of them felt great about their rides.  All in all, a very good day at the "not so Hot" Rocks.

Stay tuned for the epic weekend day 2 recap when the entire family had races scheduled ......

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