Falling in love with my drops

or ramblings of a weekend warrior. Friday evening afterwork I went up to the Quarry at Pure Austin North, taped up my feet to help keep them dry, and turned out 3-laps in the lake. Sadly, the tape didn't last, I decided to pull it and the stuff the podiatrist had put in place before it went floating off on its own. So much for keeping them dry for 36-hours. Elizabeth was already in the lake testing out her wetsuit and put another lap in while I did my three.

Up early Saturday, I could barely stand, my feet were so painful. I was not sure how cycling was going to work out, but decided I needed to try. After taping my feet again, I got on "Dale in headed south. The pain was much worse going up hill, since thats when I had to exert the most downward pressure on pedals. I got to Mountain City, about half way between Buda and San Marcos and got soaked. I seriously thought about heading back, but decided that I wouldn't dry out before getting home, so might as well carry on and hope that it would warm up, and it did.

When I got to San Marcos I'd not refilled either of my water bottles, and stupidly I pushed through to the frontage road south of the city, heading for New Braunfels. I should have know better. New Braunfels is an out and back from San Marcos thats probably 30-miles, and there is nothing on the service road, no gas stations, nothing. Rookie mistake. Ironic, since the next time I'll be in New Braunfels, will be for the Rookie Triathlon!

By the time I stopped at the Seattles Best Coffee on the frontage rd, by the way its now called something starting Tex, and is for all intense and purpose exactly the same including staff. I guess Seattle didn't sell big in Texas, and who knew, Seattles best was owned by Starbucks anyway? I digress. Anyway, I was already approaching dehydration, and coffee and cake didn't make it any better. After talking to my parents for a while, I headed back to Austin.

I was heads down, headed back onto the Old San Antonio/Stagecoach road out the outskirts of San Marcos when I passed a group of about six Texas Iron riders. I waved and kept going. About 10-mins later I was thinking, time to put the hammer down, I wasn't going to let them catch me, and almost the same instant, Jamie Cleveland passed me with his customary "morning". I jumped on the back of their train, and at a convenient point asked if it was OK. I took a pull for a while but this was the beginning of the end for me, on the next gradient after cruising with the fast boys at 25MPH, I got dropped off the back. I picked up two more who'd also been dropped and we rode back together into South Austin at a more reasonable 23MPH. Back at home at about 1:10pm, I had to rush to get to the Wheres Waldo Flashmob. 86-mile roundtrip. Best times of the ride were 2x 5-mile splits at 22MPH, with one 1-mile split at 27MPH, and 2x 1-mile splits at 26MPH. The last 5-miles into downtown Austin were that soulles drag when you are dehydrated... sigh.

Saturday night I didn't sleep well, dehydrated and over tired. So Sunday mornings early alarm wasn't welcome. But it was Jack and Adams ride and I don't like to disappointment. There was a good crowd in the parking lot when I arrived, including a big group from Texas 4000, who Jack was supporting. We split the ride into the two the 30+ and 45-mile rides together and the 20-mile no-drop starting afterwards with Jack. By the time we'd got out on to Emerald Forest south of Ben White, while my feet were still hurting, my legs had warmed up and I was enjoying trying to pull some of the slow riders back together including one that had taken a minor fall.

Half the fun of the ride is not to sit and grind out a slow ride, but to sprint up , drop back, pull and generally make sure everyone is heading in the right direction and doesn't need help. Out in Buda, it was Weiner Dog racing and the traffic was heavy. A small group decided to carry on a head to the 4-way stop in Kyle, initially I went with them, but then remembered lunch with lynnivere and turned around an headed back.

Just around the corner a group of the Texas 4000 riders were fixing a puncture and waiting. I decided to wait with them. When we set off, I picked up Cody, one of the other ride leaders and we rode together for a bit onto the San Antonio Rd. I looked back and I'd dropped most of the group, so I soft pedalled for a bit, and then got passed by about six of the Texas 4000 crowd, we were soon in a pelaton and it was hammerfest time. We rode pretty much all the way back to South Austin that way, knowing Cody was behind me and could pick any of the other riders was great. We had 1x 1-mile split of 28MPH, and a 5-mile split of 21MPH.

What I didn't realise until the final sprint back up the Old San Antonio Rd, was how much I'd been riding on my drops this w/e. Triathlon is all about using aerobars and getting low and a flat back while non-drafting. However, thats just risky when cycling in a group. However, you can get much of the same benefit from using the drops on regular bars and keeping your elbows tucked-in. I'd forgotten over the past 8-years, how much more in control you can be on drops, how much stronger they feel when holding really hard and hammering up a hill in the saddle. I love my drops.
That's a lot of riding with sore feet! Sounds like a tough but good weekend for you. Hope your feet are still your friends :-)