Written by Kevin Ryan Tuesday, 18 April 2017 00:00
I’ve wanted to visit Texas for some time now, the Austin area in particular as it has a reputation for being one of the coolest cities in the country. So when fellow Bikeman team member Warren Gerow asked if I wanted to join in on the trip this year, I jumped at the opportunity. Bikeman’s Rick Nelson and several other allies went as well. (Great riding with you Peter, Jim, Jack, and Jon!) Rick and Warren did the race the previous year and had good things to say about it. (People would not travel from Maine to Texas for several consecutive years if the riding was anything less than stellar.)
I was excited to ride Texas trails, and I was just as excited for the food. I love barbecued brisket and wanted to experience the central Texas style. The meat is rubbed with spices and is cooked over indirect heat from a wood fire for many hours. The flavor and texture is so good that, in my humble opinion, sauce is not necessary.
Back to the riding. Normally for a 100k I would back off the riding the week before the race so my legs are as fresh as possible at the start line. As we travelled 1,700 miles to ride, none of us followed the protocol. Two days prior to the race we rode at a place called Milton Reimers Ranch Park in the town of Dripping Springs. The park has 18 miles of excellent singletrack. Rick decided to hammer towards the end and I made the unwise decision to chase him, resulting in me having sore legs for the next few days.
On race day we arrived at the venue, Rocky Hill Ranch in the town of Smithville, on the early side so we could secure good positions at the starting line. As I was getting my bike out of the car, Warren pointed out that Lance Armstrong was parked directly across from us. I looked up and there he was – I did not want to be annoying by staring, so I went back to getting my bike ready.
The start of the race was the busiest I’ve ever been in, with a total of 437 riders. I had to stand on one pedal and kick with my foot for some time before it was clear enough to start actually pedaling. Luckily everyone played nice and I did not observe any major accidents.
The 20-mile race course is a fun one. The singletrack is great, and even the doubletrack is fun. There’s not much in the way of hills, so one can maintain a pretty good speed on the open stuff. Perhaps the only part of the course that was a bit soul-sucking for me was the several miles of singletrack following fence lines in open fields. The terrain in these spots was not hilly but the ground was not at all smooth.
Despite starting with sore legs, I felt strong for the first half of the race. I passed quite a few people in the first lap and half of the second lap. Then, I hit a slump for a good 15-20 miles. I started to get tired, and a bunch of people managed to pass me. In hindsight, I was definitely pushing it too hard when I was feeling good. I probably would have fared better if I dialed the power back a bit during the first half of the race. In my next endurance event I’m going to dial it back in the first half and know that I will likely catch up with some of the riders who pass me early on.
I ended up finishing the race in just under five hours at 4:58:32. That put me 87th out of 437 overall, and 22nd out of 101 in my age class (30-39). I’m okay with that result especially so early in the year, but I’d love to give it another go next year!
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