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March 6th, 2009:

6th training ride. Brookshire/Bellville

The ride for the day seem to start off fine. For many of these rides, I have to drive out of Houston, usually about an hour. Today I really noticed the wind pushing my car around on the freeway. It was overcast, without any real signs of rain. I thought that well, at least it won’t rain, no problem.

Finally arrived at the starting location which is a familar start point. There are three major school building off of this street. And it seems that every time we’re starting from there, we start from a different school! Anyway, I get out of the car and I’m immediately buffeted by the wind. STRONG wind. Like 20mph+ wind. Sustained. These are not gusts. When it does gust it was probably up to 30mph. So it was crazy windy. Jennifer , the BCO team captain told me that she was remembering one ride last year that got canceled cause of high winds. And that she was going to check on the ride status. While I waited to hear back from her I posed with a few other BCO’ers for some pictures.

I was glad I had my new long sleeved jersey on. I eventually before rolling out even added my orange running jacket. While it wasn’t super cold, the strength of the wind MADE it cold.

Still waiting to hear from Jennifer I started getting ready and listening to people all around me delay and make the last minute decision to bail out of the ride. It was certainly on my mind. Especially as it was whipping wind all around me. I wasn’t feeling tired, but seeing the riding group get smaller and smaller, i was wondering just how many people would be left?

Then Jennifer came back with the news. The ride was still on!

I was kinda surprised, but steeled my resolved and suited up for the worst.

I missed most of the beginning announcements and the very first start wave of the fastest riders cause I was returning from one of the other school’s restrooms. Yeah finding restrooms at start locations is always a fun game at these events! I got a couple pictures off of me and one of the group taking off. It sure seemed like a small group leaving, that’s for sure.

Along with getting a new long sleeved riding jersey, i also got some new sunglasses. The are from Performance Bike, their house brand label. Reviews were all excellent, comes with four change out lenses, carrying pouch, cleaning cloth, and all for $30. Today was going to be a good day to try out the yellow lens cause of how overcast the day was. I was also so glad to have them cause of the wind. Riding without something to protect your eyes is hard. And I have contacts! These are wraparounds and also have some ventilation to keep from fogging up. Overall they worked fabulously. Best $30 I’ve spent in a long time!

Well wouldn’t you know it, today I got a flat. Hit a pile of glass on the side of the road and heard the dreaded, HISS! It had been a VERY long time since I have had to change a flat. So I just went about it methodically, albiet slowly. It was nice to hear all the questions of “need any help?” from riders as they passed by. Made me feel less lonely. The only draw back is that it put me at the back of the pack of riders, were they are the most thinly spaced out. ie – no pacelines. That was going to be a problem cause i knew for the next 10 miles I was going to be riding directly into the wind.

And it was tough. I think my average speed was 10mph for those ten miles. There is a stop light at a intersection where you are supposed to turn to continue the route. Right there I saw a lot of people gathered, and I thought, great rest stop! Turns out it was for the St. Arnold’s Brewery team! I just got off the bike for a quick second, basically took a pic of the rest stop thinking it was ours, and then one of myself, looking pathetic cause I had to ride a bit further to find MY rest stop!

Continued down the road from the turn at the light to eventually find the CVX rest stop. It was well stocked, but small. It seemed that most people were turning around at that point. The wind was still blowing but it was now coming at us from an angle. Just not as directly, kinda like a 45º angle. So it still made it tough. And I had 14 miles to go to the half way!

I elected to grind it out. The second part of the route was additionally tough with wind PLUS rolling hills. This is the route for the MS150 which I recognized from last year. I’ll tell you, it was some of the lonely-ist riding I’ve ever done. I think I passed maybe 3 people during those 14 miles, and mostly didn’t seen anyone infront or back of my for most of the time! By the time I did get to the half way mark i was pretty tired and beaten down mentally. I had no radio or person to talk to the entire time. Plus I was coming from the BACK of the pack due to the fact that I had gotten a flat early on. The half way was nice. It was at the official lunch stop for the MS150. It seemed strange all empty, nothing like I remembered from last year when it was jammed with 13000 people!

I’m pretty sure I took a full 20 min break before heading back out. It was good going back. Much much faster. For the first leg back I was averaging about 20-22mph. Rolling down hills is nice! It seemed like I had just gotten on the bike when I approached the 1st rest stop! They certainly looked cold and ready to go home.

So when I finally made the turn at the light and headed home on the last ten miles with wind blowing on my back, it was bliss. After a long day’s ride, alone, flat, and tough head winds, those last ten miles were just the easiest miles ever! Effortless. And I was doing 30mph!

Over all ride for 48miles was just over 3 hrs. That’s total ride time, not including rest stops or fixing the flat. But it did seem like the longest ride ever.

Next week I’ll be doing my first back to back. Saturday will be the Fayetteville Hill clinic, put on my Northwest Cyclery. It’s a great clinic with a short ride, but that has some of the steepest hills in the area. And then on Sunday will be the Continental Classic ride, a real nice 68 mile ride though wooded areas. I will have many more photos next time.

5th training ride. playing support…

This time it was all about being support. With my Bayou City Outdoors friends.

Lots of fun.

Whle I didn’t get a chance to ride, I did ride in a truck between rest stop 1 and 2 looking for people that needed help. It would have been a good day to ride and everyone looked good out on the road. There had been forcast for rain, but it held off until the very last minute. Basically until we were putting everything away, then the rain clouds just opened up!

As a treat for helping out all day, Bayou City Outdoors took all the volunteers out for lunch to Fuzzy’s Pizza in Katy. It was yummy. You can see the place and all the volunteers in the last of the photos.