So, after finishing my Uncertain Times 200k, I head to Canton TX to meet Sharon and Jeri for the Fleas and Trees 200k. We were all sharing a motel room - think girls slumber party and instead of talking about guys all we talked about was cycling and cycling related stuff like food and supplements and good neat stuff like that!
We left 20 min or so before the ride start and met about a dozen others in the parking lot. Dan and Gary were doing the 300 and the rest of us were doing the 300. There were 4 recumbents - all CA2s! Peggy and Steve Petty, Daniel Schaff and mine. It was neat to see how everyone's bike was set up. I want to change my light mount and get a one armed bandit and also consider adding another water bottle mount and a head rest. The other riders were Sharon and Jeri, Richard, Mark M. Well, that is only 10 people, my apologies if I am forgetting anyone.
We hit a hill right off the bat. I am not fond of routes that have hills on the get go. No time to warm up! However, I get caught up quickly as there was a navigational issue! After yesterday's navigational challenge, I am convinced that today's short cue sheet would be much easier to follow. I was lucky to recognize that we had a quick right turn before a 12 mile leg. Just about everyone missed this cue. So, as they checked it out, I turned and Jeri and I were now in the lead - HA! I did not stay in the lead for long!
The first part of the route had small rollers. My legs were a little tired from yesterday and I figured I would need my 15 miles to warm up. I did get to ride with a handful of others but as I slowed on some of the hills, the pack moved on without me. However I could still see Sharon, and I thought Daniel, ahead of me in the distance. I was able to get some power and a good downhill to catch up with them to find out it was Peggy and not Daniel with Sharon! Oh how fun! Peggy is one of the better bent riders that will one day do RAAM as a team. She has ridden in Sebring and the Hill Country 600k and is a really good cyclist. I sure wish I could ride with her strength as I know I could do the full Transcon with her speed and power.
The ride for the most part was very uneventful. I wish I had my camera as it was beautiful. Picture long relatively smooth roads (baby bottom smooth for Texas, light chip seal for Mississippi) lined with gorgeous black eyed Susans. There were several farms along the way with cows, horses and donkeys. At one intersection there were several horses kicking up their hills and running and playing. On another farm there were precious colts/fillies running alongside their mothers. Another farm we saw an albino Turkey! It was not a goose or a swan, so what else could it have been?
As we ride, we are talking. This is so foreign to me! I ride mainly with guys since Dianne broke her leg. It has been over a year since I have ridden with Slow Spokes, so I am in cycling heaven riding with two girls that could have left me for dead hours ago. Neither really wanted to push the envelope today and were content riding slower on my behalf. We talked about nutrition, and other rides and other friends and Pac Tour.
Eventually we hit the substantial rollers on the route. As my bike computer is still not working I don't know what grades we are climbing, but they felt like they were in the 6% area (after the ride, Steve checked his garmin and said that there were several in the 10% range). I did start falling behind on the longer rollers. It was getting hot and I was still having problems with both my front and rear derailleurs. I could not get my rear to stay in my 32 tooth and my front would shoot over the top and hang on the crank arm if I did not catch it properly. I know this was hurting my speed as just waiting for the chain to make it to the big ring the others would be a few bike lengths further ahead of me. Then having to stop to put my chain back on the ring caused me to loose more ground. I know it sounds minor, but doing that over and over had to have caused me to loose more ground than me just being slow! I did not get angry or anything, I just hope when my new shifters come in they will fix these problems. About that time I hear the dreaded gunshot. This time I know exactly what has happened even before all the air has leaked out of my tire. The rear tire has exploded and is shredded for about 2 inches. All I can do is smile, as earlier in the day I took my spare tire out of my bag to leave in the car and then I changed my mind! So I have a used, but not shattered wheel to put on my bike. For those of you that aren't cyclists, we always carry extra tubes, but only recently have I started carrying extra tires! I am lucky that someone passing me alerts Sharon and Peggy that I have a flat and they turn around and come get me. By the time they get to me, I am rolling the tire over the rim of the wheel. Peggy wants to practice putting the back wheel on so I let her. It probably took more like 15 minutes to change the entire tire, but I was still pleased that I can do it and had the spare tire to use.
About 5 miles from the turn around, Steve, Daniel, and Mark pass us. This puts them about 10 miles ahead of us. We finally make it to the turn around and are only a hour or so ahead of time. Sharon asks if I would like to share a burger even though I normally just do Hammer products. I emphatically say yes as my dinner did not stay with me and my Hammer is hot and gross! We cycle up a block and go into Swimmers, a local hamburger joint. Although the restaurant is very slow and it eats into are slim margin of a lead, the three of us are ecstatic to stop and eat on a brevet and we continue are conversations of RAAM, RAW and all things cycling. The burgers were great and hit the spot!
I head out a little before Sharon and Peggy knowing that I would be slower than they are. It takes them 5 miles to catch me which made me feel pretty good. But, we were heading into the substantial rollers and it is really really hot now. After a while I top a roller and Sharon and Peggy are waiting for me in the shade. As I roll by, I tell them it is too hot for them to wait for me and to keep going. We ride together for a roller or two and then they continue to put space between us. Several miles down the road I pass them waiting for me again. I tell them again not to wait, but at this point the worst of the rollers are over and I am able to keep up with them better. There are still times I get dropped, but I was able to keep up better. We continue our conversations and they genuinely seem happy to be riding slower and don't mind riding with me.
We stop in Mineola for an unscheduled break at a gas station. Fortunately for us there aren't many people in the gas station as we make it our personal rest stop. We each get something to eat and drink and take up residence on the floor of the first aisle. About the time we get comfortable, Peggy's husband Steve and Daniel drive up. They are finished with the ride and have back tracked looking for us. Now, we have a party! We all tell our stories of the days ride. Jeri apparently had a tough day and had turned around early. Richard had overheated and stopped to stand in someones sprinkler. We laughed at that as when we all went by the yard being watered we all wanted to get out and run through the sprinkler! We commented that we were surprised that Gary and Dan had not passed us yet since we stopped for an hour for lunch and low and behold, they pull up and join our rando party!
We all take off shortly for the 30 miles back to the ride start. It has cooled down some and the roads are not as hilly. We continue our conversations and realize that Sharon and Susan Reed have just started emailing each other about food allergies. It is truly amazing to me how small our "rando/ultra cycling" family is. We all know someone who knows someone we know!
Sharon comments that she sees my progress, but asks if I am truly ready for my Transcon. I have to answer that I know I am not fast enough. I know that it will be a struggle. My goal it to ride everyday and sag if I have to. I want to have a good attitude through the whole ride regardless of the challenges I have to face. I hope to get to see the neat things along the way and take pictures and experience the United States of America by bike. I hope that my endurance will help me through the days and days of riding and that the faster people won't be as fast every day. There are only 6 days of climbing over 5000 ft and I hope that I can ride strong on those days and keep up on the days with less climbing. Regardless, I have been blessed with the opportunity to take this trip. A 30 day pass to ride my bike! No, I am not going to be as fast as I wish I were, but it doesn't matter as long as I do my best and have fun doing it! PACTour Northern Transcon here I come!
Thank you Sharon and Peggy for a delightful day on the bike. I will always remember this day as a great cycling day!