I rode the Outlaw Trail 100 yesterday in Round Rock, Texas. It was my first time on this ride and I had plans to meet up with a fellow Middlebury Alum as well as one of my twitter buddies, Ray (Bike Noob). It’s always more fun when you’re riding with friends, especially when you’re planning on riding long distances. My plan was to ride the 100 mile route.
The idea for the Outlaw Trail 100 actually came from one of my fellow college alums here in Central Texas. I’d not yet met Virginia in person, but we had communicated a number of times about interviewing applicants for Middlebury College. I’m a huge Ted King fan, who is also a fellow Middlebury alum (2005). Ted is a professional bike racer who spent the last two season on the Cervelo Test Team. Ted’s charity is the Krempels Center so I suggested we don I am not Ted King t-shirts as a way to turn this meet-up into a benefit of sorts. I’ve personally experienced the effects brain injuries can have and it’s affected my life in many ways, most recently after a bike crash that left me out of sorts for quite some time afterwards. Ted writes a number of blogs that are usually very entertaining, especially his kit critiques (Kit Watch) written under his King of Style nickname. Check them out. Anyway, Virginia and her husband were riding a shorter distance, so we snapped a quick photo and chatted briefly.
At the start, I ran into Ray and we started out riding together. Ray indicated that he was going to try and average about 15 Mph and I told him that I’d ride with he and his friend Rick for a while. It’s nice having company on these rides and today was no different. Rick and I chatted for a while, so much so, that we didn’t watch our speed. At the first rest stop, we were averaging over 18 Mph. Rick was also a pretty fast rider and was wearing the same jersey as Ray. This confused me at times because they would switch positions and before we knew it, we’d dropped Ray. I felt bad because I knew we were going out at a far faster pace than planned and Ray said he was worried about the effect of that later on in the ride when we’d be heading back to the start. The wind had picked up and it seemed as if the road conditions were deteriorating. Cycling’s all about maintaining an efficient rhythm. Gusty winds and rough roads are two things that are sure to disrupt a cyclist’s rhythm. When you have these two together on the latter half of a long ride, it can really sap your strength and will to ride.
I left Ray and Rick at about mile 60. I had plans later that afternoon with my wife and I knew the guys wanted to slow it down a bit. The last 40 miles were pretty tough and I was glad to make it to the finish line. I chatted with a cyclist who was in a group that had organized about 20 miles from the finish. We’d passed each other a couple of times before falling into together.
Looking back, I think it’s easier for me to ride with a group even if they don’t ride at my speed if the distance is under 80 miles. It seems that no matter how much I train, the last 20 miles of a 100 mile ride are a struggle. I’m sure that was also in the back of my mind when I left Ray and Rick at mile 60. It turned out to be even more of a struggle than I anticipated. Hopefully we’ll be able to ride again and I can be a better riding partner. I really look forward to the organized rides because there’s something fun about getting over 1000 cyclists out on the road together. You never know who you will run into and who you will meet. It was a fun day in the saddle, even if I struggled a bit at the end. The ride was well supported by some very enthusiastic volunteers. I especially appreciated the full-service I got at the last rest stop, where the volunteers filled my bottles with ice and water.