Yesterday was the annual Red River Bike Rally, at Pottsboro, TX. I looked to be an interesting route, in areas I was somewhat familiar with, though I wasn't expecting all the hills. See, the route was designed by a local Randonneur/RAAM veteran, who I think loves hills! He sure found some good ones!
The weather was better than I had hoped for. Light winds, and cool-for-August-in-Texas temps resulted in a pleasant and fast moving start to the ride. I did forget to start the GPS for almost a mile, but at least I remembered to turn it on eventually, so I got a good record for the ride.
The routes (there were several distances one could choose from) were all well marked with color-coded arrows on the pavement, and what I found especially nice was the road-hazard markings that the organizers put down (marking large cracks in the road, loose gravel, and loose dogs for example). It was a welcome touch for rider safety.
The 60-83-100mi routes all stayed together for close to 30mi, when teh 60mi route peeled off. That left just the 83 & 100mi routes. I was going great, until about mile 42, when suddenly it felt like somebody kicked the legs out from under me. My legs went from fine, to feeling dead and flat. I knew it wasn't a food/hydration issue, as I had been eating well, and drinking lots. I thought about it a bit, and it dawned on me, that 40mi is my typical "long" training ride on the weekends! My legs were trying to tell me I was supposed to be "done" at 40mi. Silly legs...there's 60 miles to go!
Temperatures began to warm up after lunch and I came at some point to the proverbial Fork In The Road. Yes, this was the point where the 83 mile route split off the 101 mile route. I stopped in some shade and pondered my fate. I knew if I went 83mi I would be done about 90min sooner at least, and home that much sooner too. But on the other hand, the weather was good for August, and my legs were feeling better by then. It could be the best shot I had at getting a full century ride in, with SAG support, before the end of the year. I chose to try for the century. Now most folks chose 60mi or less. At one of the later rest stops, the volunteers told me I was only rider 66 through there. If memory serves, that was before the 83mi route split off.
As time moved on, and I continued on down the road, it was getting later and later in the day. The ride had started at 7am. The volunteers were wanting to get done and home too. Being one of the last riders out on the long loop, I was graciously granted a follow-vehicle to haul water/ice and to offer to SAG me if I decided to quit. Never having had my own personal SAG vehicle, it kept reminding me of Dex Tooke's story of his RAAM ride with his direct-follow support van! Not that I am anywhere near the class of rider like Dex, not by any stretch of the imagination! But it was still pretty cool!
The miles kept ticking off, and eventually I saw the parking lot where the Honda was. My follow-car pulled off in a different direction, so I never got a chance to thank him for looking after me. The Grayson Co HAM crew was great! THANK YOU ALL!
As I pulled to a stop by the car, the GPS said it all--
My total time from start to finish was 8hr 35min, with 7hr 44min of that being time spent riding. My average speed overall was 13mph. This was the first century I have ridden since 1997, I think...It's been a few years, eh?