Well, day 3 and 4 were very interesting to say the least.
Sharon got in late on Friday night. I really enjoy her company and we had a lot to catch up on especially all things RAW (race across the west) and RAAM (Race across America) as she had just gotten back from crewing earlier that week. We did not get to bed until really really late - after 1 am and maybe later.
I woke up with a splitting headache. I can count on one hand the number of times I have woken with a headache. It was pounding. But, I need to ride and so I get ready and get on the bike. Daniel Schaff joined us for the ride. Automatically, I could tell I was not going to have a fast day. The first 9 miles or so are a gentle incline and I was suffering. I managed to make it to 8 mph going up small inclines and maybe 12 on the downhill. My head would throb when I would try and push. Since I was not familiar with how to handle headaches on the bike, I just kept going! I told Sharon and Daniel to go without me as I was going to be too slow and it was going to be too hot - forecast 97-100 degrees. I finally made it to the first control (still had some time in the bank) and bought Tylenol. I sat outside of the store on the curb for at least 30 minutes sipping on Sustained Energy. I started feeling better. However, as I was sitting on the curb I noticed that my tire was warped. It had some sort of bump in it and was definitely looking weird. Since I have had problems with my tires - 2 catastrophic blow outs since January, I was not optimistic that this tire would last long. As I was feeling better I continued to the next control. Within 4 miles I heard the all to familiar sound of a gunshot going off behind me - the tire blew! The tire has a hole the size of my pinkie right in the middle of the rubber. I walked up the hill I was on trying to find shade to change the tire. Unfortunately, the shade was behind the fence line. I quickly change the tire - contemplating whether I should continue or go back. Since I have now had 3 catastrophic flats - 2 in one month, I was not excited about continuing alone without a spare tire. It was already hot and so I bailed. I wanted to go on, but I did not want to get stranded in the middle of no where. So, I headed back. I actually was feeling pretty good, hot, but good. The countryside was really nice with mesquite trees, cows and goats.
I made it back through Milford, TX again and here is the sign about the grouches:
I stopped at the Milford Cash Grocery for a bite to eat and some cold water. The gentleman behind the counter was one of the neatest guys. He was obviously bored and in need of company. I bought a burrito and cold water and sat and talked to the guy. I mentioned that I liked the Welcome sign. He told me that every year they nominate and elect a grouch! They get a plaque and everything!
I make it back to the hotel and get my recovery drink of chocolate recoverite mixed with a McDonald's mocha frappechino. I then took my ice bath and took a 3 hour nap! Ice baths are really good for cyclists as it helps reduce the inflammation in the legs. After talking to Michelle, my coach, she thinks that the headache may have been a precursor to heat exhaustion and she was glad that I took the ice bath to lower my core temp. It sure felt good and I normally hate the ice bath.
Sharon and Daniel end up struggling on their ride with different issues - Sharon being tired and Daniel having mechanicals and they do not finish their ride until 12am. I was able to get them Subway for supper as all the good food stores close at 11. So, once again, Sharon and I are up waaaaayyyyy too late. We were not asleep until after 2 and maybe 3.
We decided to blow off the Prairie Hill Round Up and do an unofficial Jailhouse 200k. That way we could sleep in a little and not worry about the controls. This was a good and bad decision. It was good as we were able to ride for fun and not worry about how much time we were spending at the controls. And it was bad for the same reason. Typically, I take 10 min or so at a control. Just enough time to go to the bathroom, refill my water bottles and get back on the bike. Occasionally I will sit down for a few minutes for a bite to eat, but I do try to keep moving. Well, we took at least 30 and maybe even 40 minutes at the first control. Plus, neither of us were putting up a stellar pace - we were definitely on the slow side, but we did get to talk alot.
We left the first control in Abbott and headed for Valley Mills. This is the part of the ride that I only got to ride for a couple miles yesterday. And this is the prettiest part of the ride. Oh, it was glorious. There was a lot of corn fields and the headwind was present - enough to keep me comfortable. It made me think about the movie Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. I can tell you that I love riding my bike so much, that I don't mind riding endless miles of corn fields. Now this may change in a few weeks when we ride in the Plains! The hills were lightly rolling - very recumbent friendly and I was able to settle in and get pretty comfortable. There were no signs of yesterday's headache and although slower than I would have liked, I felt good and was having fun. Eventually, we cross the Brazos river and the terrain changes to bluffs instead of corn fields and we pass a pecan grove as well. All very serene.
About 55 miles in, Sharon and I are both getting really hot and she is really tired. We start looking for a place to stop and rest. We finally come upon the Coyote Community Center and take a 20-30 min rest on their covered patio. The breeze kept up cool as it was about 10 degrees cooler in the shade - my computer read 96 in the shade! Funny, but it 96 was much cooler than what my computer was reading in the sun (the high ambiant temp for the day ended up being 120 degrees - topping my July 4 2009 high of 118!). We both stretched and Sharon took a short power nap. I found a hose and we scavenged some water to top of our supply before we started back towards Valley Mills.
It takes us 7 hours to get to Valley Mills and I know we stayed there at least 30 minutes and probably more. Remember, since we don't have brevet cards with time cut-offs we are not paying any attention to the time. Oooppss! Before heading back we investigate a little home town grocery store. I wish I had a picture of it as it had a neat mural painted on it.
So somewhere in the next 25 miles, Sharon asks if I have my lights. I told her that I had my Dinotte, but I left my back up light in the car since we surely would not need lights on a 200k on the longest day of the year!!!! Well, Sharon had thought the same thing. She did not have any lights! At our current speed, it would take us until 10 pm to get in - 1.5 hours of dark to ride in. Not good. We discussed our options as we rode back to Abbott. One of the options and the one that made the most since was trying to hitch a ride back to Italy. It would be pretty bad for us to get back at 10 even if we still had lights as I still needed to drive back home. Yuck!
Well, Sharon started picking up speed when we hit two longish hills (or I slowed down, or both!). By the time I got to Abbott, Sharon had already picked us out a nice young guy with really colorful tats to take us back to Italy! We loaded up the bikes and DNFd an unofficial 200k!
Like I said - It was an interesting weekend! Not what I expected, but one of the more enjoyable weekends I have had. I love riding in Texas and can't wait to get back!