Life’s been a bit hectic for me lately as I’m trying to launch a couple of ideas, so my blog has suffered, although not as much as I did yesterday. Last year I decided to try the LBJ 100 Tour on a whim. I’d driven by the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall Texas a number of times on my way to Fredricksburg. Each time I told myself I’d be back some day to take a tour of the ranch. LBJ’s legacy is hard to escape when you’re living in Central Texas. Each Spring, the Bluebonnets and other wildflowers are a constant reminder of Lady Bird Johnson’s impact along the Texas highways. It’s a spectacular bouquet of colors that you have to see to believe. We don’t really have Fall colors where I live, but we do have wildflowers in Spring.
So, I figured why not combine one of my favorite things to do (cycling) with one of my other favorite interests (history). It’s also one of the first century rides available and a challenging one at that. Last year, I really struggled on the back stretch between Sandy and the Ranch. I’d skipped the rest stop at Sandy because they were out of water and I still had one bottle left. It was only 13 miles to the next rest stop so I figured how bad could it be. I was wrong. It was uphill most of the way from what has to be the lowest part of the ride to the highest part of the ride. Leading up to that section you were pretty much coasting downhill for quite a ways. Then there was the wind. I struggled to stretch my water those 13 miles and started cramping as I rolled into the last rest stop where some kind woman recommended some Pickle Juice. It tasted awful, but worked like a charm. Within a minute or two my cramps were gone…magic stuff. I now bring some along on every century ride.
This year, I’m in much better shape so I figured I was better prepared and it would be an easier ride. I prepared my things the night before and even cleaned my bike, so I was ready…or was I? The morning started off rather uneventful with a stop at my local Starbucks and a nice easy drive to Stonewall, where I arrived about an hour before the ride. I started to get ready to ride and realized I didn’t have my helmet. I’d put it right by my front door so I wouldn’t forget it. Unfortunately, all my other stuff was elsewhere so I walked right by it on my way out the door. Riding without a helmet is not something I like to do and it’s suicide on a ride with over 1000 other riders. This year’s ride must have had over 1500 riders, many of whom are not very experienced riding in large groups closely bunched together.
So I was off to find a helmet. Lucky for me my friends at Bike World San Antonio arrived with just one helmet. It wasn’t exactly my size, but it fit enough to protect my head. A guy I’d parked next to also forgot his helmet. He’d thought about not riding until his wife located one for him to wear. When I got back to my car, he was already there resting. He got up to walk around a bit and I noticed his face, shoulder and knees were pretty banged up. He accidentally clipped a wheel of another rider and landed face first in the road. One of my other friends actually saw it happen. He lost two of is front teeth. It reminded me of my own wreck a few months ago. My face still feels numb from that accident, but all my teeth are still me. Good thing he was wearing a helmet.
I started the ride with one of my ride buddies who is a much better climber than me. We ride pretty evenly even though I tend to lag behind on hills. I do manage to catch up on the downhill sections and sometimes pull him along on windy flat sections. I experienced chain suck on one of the first longer hills and had to get off the bike to get my chain back on (time to adjust the front derailleur). By then he was gone. We’d started out at a pretty good pace and I hadn’t been on my bike in 2 weeks so my heart rate was higher than I wanted. I rode on and off with a group of people. The long uphill stretch was still pretty tough and I struggled to maintain a decent pace. This time I did stop at the Sandy rest stop as well as the one they added a little more than half way between it and the last rest stop, mainly to fill my water bottle. I skipped the last stop and powered in from there. I picked up a group of riders that passed me on the uphill stretch as I got my second wind and cruised in at a little over 20 Mph. Overall, I averaged 17 Mph, which was much better than last year’s 15 Mph, but it didn’t feel that way. It was still fun and the scenery is spectacular. It’s a very well supported ride and it’s just cool to ride around on the LBJ Ranch with all its reminders about arguably one of the most tumultuous times in American history. This is one of those must-do rides. If you do it, consider an overnight in Fredricksburg, it’s only 20 minutes away. Don’t forget to stop at the Becker Vineyards and try some of their excellent wine.
Stats for the LBJ 100 Tour.