Once again, I forgot my camera, sorry dudes. There is so much other gear and supplies to organize for a long ride like this, not to mention trying to get my arse out of bed, arrive at some faraway town, and on the bike ready to go by the ungodly hour of 7 a.m.
Before the ride had even started, I had fully prepared myself to experience 300km of hurt. Though I had vowed to both myself and to the 5 of you that read this blog that serious training would start after just getting by during the 200km in January, Mother Nature had different plans and decided to unleash furious amounts snow and pure baltic temperatures here in North Texas, derailing my training, not to mention reeking total havoc on our country’s most anticipated event of the new millennia, Super Bowl XLV.
The ride started in Willow Park, TX, just slightly west of Fort Worth. From the second the ride started, quite a few folks took off with a pretty high pace. Though it would have been nice to be pulled along for awhile, I didn’t even try to keep up. I just figured I didn’t have the condition to stay with them, and it wasn’t worth the energy. Better to hold on to every calorie I had for when I really needed it, like after mile 117 or so. There were a few folks behind me, but they were going even easier than I was, so I decided to ride my own pace, which meant going solo.
As it turned out the route was a patch work of other brevets I had previously ridden. It took us south to Granbury and then to the first control in Glen Rose, about 60 miles in. Conditions were great and shortly after leaving Glen Rose, the temperatures started to warm up nicely so I shed a lot of gear. The route headed southwest, with a slight head wind and over a few rolling hills to Hico, TX. This was our second control. As I arrived the lead group was heading out, and a few more folks came in behind me.
Since I was riding by myself, I figured it was a good time to practice getting in and out of the controls as quickly as possible, hopefully shedding a few minutes off my overall time. I gave myself enough time to down some Dublin Dr Pepper, on tap, and have a small snack. It was another 50 miles till the next control so I made sure I had some fuel to have en route, and got back on the bike.
Now, I’m not sure if it was the welcomed tailwind, or the fact that it was the warmest day of riding weather since probably October, but after leaving Hico I just kept feeling stronger on the bike. The route was not easy, it was constant hills, but I was flying over them, never once changing into the small chain ring. I went due north to Bluff Dale, which I first visited on the 400k ride last year, then slightly Northeast to Lipan, where the 3rd control was. The lead group was no where to be seen, they must have made good work together along with the tail wind. I figured the folks behind me would be on my tail, as there were a couple of tandems back there. I grabbed some snacks, got my card signed and was back on the bike in about 5 minutes.
I was now on the final leg, and to my surprise was feeling great. I headed east to Granbury. Upon reaching there I stopped briefly to put on my reflective gear and turn on my lights. With only about 30 miles to go, I turned onto Tin Top Road. This took me north out of Granbury and across the Brazos River. Its a nice scenic road with a few climbs and was fun riding it in the dark. After about 20 miles and few other turns, I was on Airport Road in outside Annetta, TX for the last leg.
Airport is a windy narrow road, and most of it was downhill so I was flying down it. Off to the distance I could see the last big climb poking through the tree line. And to my amazement, I also saw red flashing bicycle bicycle lights about half way up it; the lead group. I was planning on taking it easy up the climb, but with the others within my sight I gunned it up the hill. They were obviously well on their way after I had reached the top of the climb, but I knew they were close so forced myself to keep the pace high and give my best to catch them. I turned left onto FM 5 and could still see their lights in the distance.
I chased them for a couple miles, at about mile 189, and literally making the last turn I caught them. With my heart rate sky high from the chase, there was no slowing down at this point. Our club president, Dan Driscoll, was riding in the front of the group. As I zoomed passed I yelled at him ” Don’t tell me you are getting tired, Dan.” He was more than surprised to see me, but I could tell he got a kick out of it and started giving chase. We had about 2 miles till the last control, and a couple small hills to climb. I was exhausted at this point, but there wasn’t any slowing down after putting in that kind of effort. The pace split the group up a little, but it was all in good fun, and we were practically at the end. Dan and I arrived at the last control, conveniently a Whataburger. By the time the burger patrons in front of us had ordered, the rest of the group was there so we all had our cards signed at the same time.
Our time was 13 hours and 15 minutes. This was 15 minutes faster than my first 300km brevet, though that one started at 6:30 pm and we rode through the night. I was well chuffed with my time, especially for so early in the year and with spotty training. Maybe I will be in shape for the 400km in March…