The ride itself went really well, thanks to Kris I was there on time and ready to go near the front of Lane-6, thanks to Nathan Dennis; I had my hydration and nutrition plan sorted and my head in the right place!
After an introductory speech from Lance and a National Anthem that were both beset with technical problems, (this year I could at least see them in person, last year I could barely see them at all even on the giant screen I was so far back!) my lane started at 8:07 a.m., it was the now familiar ride at a steady 12-14MPH through hundreds of people who’d either raised more money, or significantly over estimated their finish time.
By the time we turned off Highway 290 the road had cleared out I was having no problem averaging 20MPH – I eased back for a while to chat with a a few people, more on this later, one of whom though was Brit’ cycling in a Union Jack cycling jersey. Turns out he’d been living in Phili’ for 14-years. I stopped at the 35-mile rest stop to pee and collect more water and was well ahead of schedule. The wind was brutal in places, sometimes gusting to 35MPH. It was while fighting the wind on FM112 road (by the way one of the things I learnt at this years ride was that FM stood for Farm to Market), that I had my first technical problem. One of the screws came lose on my Profile Aerowing dual bottle carrier. This must have cost me 10-mins by the time I got my tools out corrected the problem and went back for my dropped bottle.
Still onwards and in fact sideways, well at least in some of the gusts which had bought down fences in places. Everything went completely to plan, through to the rest stop at around 80-miles. Leading into Elgin I’d try to stay with a club group who were riding together, each time I thought I’d caught them, they dropped me. By the time I got off the bike at the rest stop my feet were starting to hurt from the shoes, I dismounted triathlete style leaving shoes in the pedals and walked around in socked feet. I had a quick chat with the cycling club group and wished them luck and said I’d see them on the road as they’d undoubtedly pass me again. At the rest stop I broke with my nutrition plan and had one slice of wholemeal bread with peanut butter and jello(jam).
As we left Elgin it was good wishes from the marshals and volunteers who told us to “enjoy riding with the wind at our backs” – it was nice while it lasted, but it didn’t last that long. Sure enough after about 20-mins cycling the group passed me, only this time I could keep them in sight. At about 90-miles we came onto what I think was Blake Manor Rd. a straight, long stretch of newly laid blacktop/tarmac, as we turned onto it, I felt the wind change and decided to put in a strong effort for the last 10-miles.
I was truly rocking, yes I had the wind to my back, but so did everyone else on that stretch of the road, I was was soon turning the cranks at an staggering for me 28MPH, as I started passing people, I was shouting encouragement and soon passed the group, a couple of the faster riders jumped on my back wheel and kept up for a mile or so but were soon dropped. Considering this was a flat road, not downhill, I was staggered to be doing 33MPH for a while, whooping it up as I passed people….
My jubilation of being able to maintain this for the best part of the last 10-miles was cut short though as I turned from FM973 back towards the Travis County Expo Center, my back tire punctured. Given I knew that it was only a mile or so to the finish, I decided to ride rather than fix it, which meant riding standing up. Even then I wasn’t passed by the cycling club group. I can’ explain how I felt on finishing. Compared to last year when I didn’t finish and ended up on a drip in the medical tent after 99.5 miles there was no comparison.
My hydration/nutrition went like this:
6x750ml with Ultima Replensher powder, only 25g of carbs per 750ml and otherwise mostly electrolyte. The good thing was it came in sachets. I decided to go with this rather than the supplied Gatorade as I knew the strength.
Two bananas, one slice of brown bread with peanut butter and jam
500ml pee just before the start, one small pee at rest stop-1, no more than 750ml total.
Weight back to normal within 2-days of the ride.
Motivation and 2006
I did the ride last year purely because the IBM Academy of Technology was in town the week after and IBM offered to pay the extra nights hotel as I was riding in a charity event. Having failed at 99.5 miles I've never felt so defeated in my life. It was staggering to see all those who have survived cancer and rode with great messages on their backs, heck they can survive cancer and finish the ride, I couldn't even finish.
For those that don’t know, people can ride with small signs on their backs provided by the organisers that say either Survivor(in yellow obviously), In Memory(for those no longer with us) and in Honor for those still with us. My favourite from last year was "In Memory – of my left testicle" worn by a guy about my age we rode the first 10-miles or so together, I then blew him off and went sprinting ahead, he finished, I didn't.
This year I rode briefly alongside a woman who had twelve In Memory signs on her back, either direct family Mum, Sisters or indirect cousins or other relatives. This was her first big ride. So this year I had to finish, after all I'm a fit, lucky 48-yr old.
Having done the century pretty easily this year for myself, I had to come back after last years abject failure, next year I'm going back for others. This year and last, I really only put the minimum effort into raising money. The ride was really for me. I was wrong, it should have never been about me. Now I've finished, next year is going to be all about others and their efforts. So, for 2006 I’ll be back, I'm going to put a real effort into fundraising and really make it about what I can raise rather than what I can cycle.
Thank you to those that donated for me this year, Catherine and Ian, Mike, Mike and Dave.
Most of all, In Memory of my Aunts Winn and Ruth, and Ian Parish. Also in Honour of Nick Carlin, Graham Marsh, Trace Allen, Jackie Mason and Sue(Foster).
Be warned, next year I want YOU(yes you!) to sponsor me. LIVESTRONG!