If there’s anything I learned at Texas A&M, its that traditions are important, even when they’re stupid, sadistic and involve holding up football scores for dead dogs (more on that story at a later date). Anyhow, this past weekend we observed the tradition of riding our bikes in a big circle for 24 hours. Why ? I’m not really sure. Is it fun ? In hind site, yes, but not while we’re actually doing it. Will I do it again ? Of course. Pics from the fun.
Bicycle Sport Shop combines two of my favorite things: bikes and coffee. Having finished up the bicycle portion of my shopping adventure, I was en route to the coffee sector when something very shinny caught my eye (as people who know me can attest something that distracts me form coffee is fairly impressive).The Langster is a limited edition single speed (only 1000 of each were made), with a reversible back wheel that you can flip over and used as a fixed-wheel if you are so-inclined. Specialized also did really a cool thing here – instead of naming their bikes by some obscure system of three-letter-acronyms, they personalized each model to a city, right down to the custom paint job, with matching chain color in the case of my favorite the London (complete with tube-map).It’s a damn good thing they didn’t have one in my size…
Minus 10 miles: We ask the pointed question: is the small municipality of Dripping Springs ready to handle an influx of 4000 cars? Er, no.
Mile 0: Wahoo bike riding. 4000 spandex-clad people roll across the start line.
Mile 5: In an attempt to get ‘girls just want to have fun,’ (the song playing when we crossed the start line for some unknown reason) out of the group’s collective head, Fritz starts singing ‘we built this city.’ Fritz almost does not live to see mile 6.
Mile 12: We observe the awesomeness of the spectators and their shouts of encouragement. Germ makes a note on his iphone (while riding) to buy some spectators for all future events like this that we participate in. The route is absurdly pretty – winding (if marginally paved) roads, good views, plenty of support.
Mile 15: The first rest stop – people in spandex take an obscenely long time to pee.
Mile 20: Wahoo bike riding. I almost kill a couple on a tandem bike when I pop my chain off and come to a quick stop. Serves them right for riding a tandem.
Mile 30: We fall though a time-space anomaly and are suddenly in the Alps, except without the snow, pine trees or socialized medicine – just lots of damned-steep road.
Mile 32: Why the flipty-hell did I run a 5K yesterday ?
Mile 40: We say goodbye to Fritz and Brian as they make the wise choice and break off on the 60-mile course. We make it on to the 90-mile course with 5 minutes to spare.
Mile 42.5: Poor fashion/life choices are observed.
Mile 50: That damned space-time anomaly again – who the fuck builds a road at 10% grade?
Mile 60: Wahoo… oh the hell with that, this sucks…we are tempted to stop at my cousin’s in Blanco for beers.
Mile 80: It is observed that, with my legs as tired as they are, I more than likely will not be able to ascend the single flight of stairs to my apartment. Plans are made for uncle rob to carry me up the stairs, post-nuptial style.
Mile 83: Another hill? And a headwind? Seriously?
Mile 90: Triumphant victory (meaning, we made it across the finish before the closed the course down). Thanks again to all the folks who donated to the cause. The ride raised over $3 million – not a bad days work. More Pictures here.
So we roll up to our post-hangover ride at muleshoe, and these guys are parked there. Er. Really?
I’m not sure what’s more alarming – that this organization apparently has multiple chapters, or that everyone who drove off in said van (driver included) was drinking a Miller Highlife (I suppose, after all, it is the champagne of beers and thereby aprropriate).
Just in case you thought I’d be slacking on this 90 mile ride I’ve been asking for donations for – think again. Miles 30 through 50 might kill me. Really.
When they say in the fancy ads that we happy tax payers forked over a few million for, that Texas is like a whole other country, they’re only half right. It’s actually like five or six whole other countries. This weekend me and the skinny kid expatriated ourselves to Sonora, which is pretty firmly in the sub country we refer to as west texas. I’ve always loved this part of the state because there’s very few people, very few towns, the speed limit is 80 on the interstate and you really start to get the idea of what they mean by Texas being big. It’s a drive, a stretch of country, that’ll put you in your place in the universe. Small, wee and insignificant.
Anyhow our purpose was, much like the rest of this spring’s travelings, a bike race. The final race of the TMBRA series held at the X-bar ranch, a working cattle ranch that also has some cabins and some bike trails. The race was sponsored by the Sutton County Steak House. This fine purveyor of all things beef was running a special when we showed up for dinner on Saturday – $10.99 Steak Bits and Baked Potato. The waitress tried to plug it as ‘all the cutting work is done for you.’ Right. I’m still not sure what cut the ‘bit’ is and I didn’t want to find out. I opted for the deluxe burger with out really consulting the details of the menu. Ten minutes later the waitress sets a coronary-seizure-on-a-plate down in front of me. Bun + 1/3 lb patty + cheese + mushrooms+ grilled onions + thick slice of grilled ham + another 1/3lb patty + more cheese + bun. Only in West Texas. Oh yeah, it came with a baked potato. It’s not often I meet a burger I can’t take down but this one soundly defeated me.
So, like I said the whole reason we went out there was the race. The final in the series of which I’ve done three of the seven (hence the reason I have no standing what-so-ever in the points system). But this trail was built for me. Long flats, short technical climbs, manageable ledges and cows. Ok, the cows weren’t really my favorite part but they made it interesting. About mile eight after a fabulous start that left me in third and mild screwup on a climb that left me in ninth I was holding strong on fifth place, my best placing in this series to date. I crest a ridge to a gorgeous view and cows, two of them – moma cow and ed (the baby cow). Now we’d been warned that this was a working ranch and that there might be livestock on the trail, but I didn’t really take them seriously.
Cows are big. Like frickin huge. Ed was tiny by cow standards and he could have crushed me without thinking twice. And when when you’re chasing them down a trail on a very lightweight bike, the prospect of a 1200lb steak suddenly merging into your lane makes it clear that the powers-on-high are not only working some serious karmic payback for the animal-hater burger you consumed the previous evening, but are also once again using the flora and fauna of west Texas to impress upon you the insignificance of your person.
I finished the race without getting squished, held my place in pack, got a ribbon and only had one more encounter with the livestock when I whipped around a corner and came face-to face with Ed the baby-cow. He moved, but he left me a gift on the trail which managed to splatter itself nicely on my frame and my person.
Did I mention there were no hot showers out there ?
Good times (see the photos here).
Thank god for cool bosses who let me go outside for recess when the whole work thing just isn’t doing it for me.
We rolled out to my first cross country race this weekend, in Warda. I placed a respectable twelfth, a little over the middle of the heat. I think i would have done a little better, but I was a bit nervous at the start and I got off trail at one point during the race. oops. Overall, good times and a beautiful day to be riding.
Lots of people eat very healthy, well-rounded meals before an event like this. We roll with donuts.
Holy crap, I look cool.
After the race. We don’t look happy, because once you stop pedaling your legs get a bit angry
There’s a spot on this trail called the Gas Pass (i like to call it the Pass Gas, because apparently I’m twelve). Basically the trail drops about 60 feet pretty steeply down a dirt embankment that the trail owners have unwisely covered in cement to prevent erosion. Thus if you endo here, you’re looking to loose a substantial amount of skin and teeth as well as dignity. Hence the ‘oh shit shit shit’ look on my face. More epicness on the Pass Gas can be seen on Germ’s site here.
We race again this weekend at Waco and then later in May in Eldorado, out near Sonora. We’ve approached Shipley’s about a sponsorship but so far they have not returned our calls.
Note: thanks to Mike Brooks/Commiebike.com for these photos. Obviously since I am on the bike, I did not take them.
The Dirt Derby’s held every Tuesday night in the early spring, out in Del Valle, southeast of town. As one dude said, probably the most fun you can have on Tuesday night with your clothes on. Twenty-five minutes of sprinting around a moto-cross track with thirty or so other riders. Fun drops, banked turns, stadium lights and a keg. In a word, rad.