Special Thanks to Texas Aerial Solutions for the image and the drone this past weekend! That was awesome!
The 2015 Aledo ride for heroes was held this past weekend, and I was excited to attend and participate in the 70 miler. I'm always in favor of a good cross country route with rolling terrain, and once again Alito did not disappoint. The majority of the course is now south of the interstate and it goes through some beautiful, rolling terrain.
I ended up getting to register early for this event, so I was not up for arriving too early. I thought I might be able to sleep in. Unfortunately, some rain came through on Friday night that kept us awake, and it did not get as much sleep as I may have wanted. Furthermore, as I rolled out from Dallas to Fort Worth, it was kind of interesting in that there was a lot of fog. There was so much fog, that when I arrived at the venue, I was surprised to see so few cars and cyclists present. In the past, this event has filled both parking lots, and there usually lines to get a proper spot, but that was not the case this year, and I just have to believe that it was the rain and later the fog that may have kept people away. While disappointing, I believe that the cyclists who stayed home or may have done an MS ride over the weekend down from Austin to Houston, missed out on a really good experience.
I rolled out to the starting line with about five minutes to spare, and made my way to the front with the lead riders. Interestingly, this was probably the first time that I ever got photographed by a drone. This drone was hovering probably 30 or 40 feet off the ground about 100 feet from the starting line, and it was an eight rotor heard device that held a Nikon digital camera beneath it. The drone stayed afloat throughout the Star-Spangled Banner, and then it filmed us as we all rolled out. The fog stayed with us through the first hour of the day at least, and it made for some interesting corners and help keep us cool, all while continuing to limit our overall visibility. I have no idea that if those images from the drone really came out or not but it was still interesting to see how things are going in terms of these events and how they are promoted.
I made several mistakes at the beginning of this rally that did not serve me well. The first of course is that I did not arrive early enough to get a proper warm-up. The older I get, the more important that warm-up is and it should be a requirement that there is a Mac or fluid trainer in my car on weekends. Even for a bike rally, warming up should just be part of the program. It truly did take me about 30 minutes, but by that point I was already suffering as if I had been punched in the gut and I ended up losing the lead 12 riders until I was maybe 45 for 48 minutes in. At that time, it felt like a weight had finally been lifted off of me, and I was able to ride a solid tempo or sub critical power intensity and caught several of the riders who had been dropped from the lead. Within the hour, we were still maybe three minutes off the lead, but we had a group of between five and seven that worked together to pace ourselves more appropriately. There were still several marked climbs(by the way, I am not the biggest Strabo fan, and I tend to prefer ridewithgps.com, so if you want to see my results, you may friend me up over there.)
We ended up with about five good cyclists from our one through about our two. I was able to organize them into a good, strong, rotating paceline, and was quick to try and acquire names for my ersatz friends. One of them was a cycling Pastore and after about 30 or 40 minutes, he proclaimed that this had arguably been his fastest average speed and ride ever. Unfortunately, it eventually got to him and at one of the eight stations he backed off.
I do have one other interesting comment about this initial group. There was a sixth cyclist who rode with us, but he wore earbuds and refused to participate in the paceline, taking it upon himself to get the free ride and anchor us as we rotated through. We tried to speak with him and encourage him to join, but he would have none of it. I find this whole debacle with earbuds and group rides, urban rides, even rallies, to be really vexing. Even Tracy still does it when she rides solo. I'm to say right now, I know it is controversial, but folks one of the reasons that cycling is so safe is that we have an inherent advantage by using all of our senses. We can hear things that are occurring around us that give us an advantage for situational awareness. It really irritates me when a cyclist rides in a group, and either rides with earbuds in, or rides with one ear but in, which they may think is safer, but in my opinion is actually more distracting to the brain. Cycling should be about the wind in your face, the sweat dripping off of your nose and eyebrows, and listening to the velocity of the air as it enters and exits your lungs. We eventually dropped this individual, and we did not look for him after the ride ended.
Anyway, the five of us eventually were reduced to four, and the fourth cyclist was dropped around the midpoint, where there are several two-minute hills. We did slow down and wait for dropped riders to regroup, but with their permission to let us go, we would then roll on. We ended up with a strong group of three that was really good, and we rolled through at about 22 or 23 mph for a good 10 miles. We did catch more stragglers, and a fourth rider in a time trial bike ended up riding with us, but he was not terribly keen at pulling through. By this point, however, the three of us had lost just enough of our edge that we were not able to shake him, and we just welcomed him for his company.
I did have one other incident occur that was unique on this rally and that is that I suffered a bee sting on my right temple maybe two or 2 1/2 hours in. It was just a minor inconvenience, but of course it always hurts the moment that the sting occurs. Later, Tracy said she's found the stinger in my four head and plucked it out that afternoon.
We rolled along as a group of 3+1, and I learned that the other two cyclists were friends. One of the two cyclists also had a Cervelo and was riding with a stages power meter, and was well-versed in his own ability as well as how to interpret the information on his garment. It's always great when you've got a smart recreational cyclists next to you, and we were able to talk shop quite a bit. His name is Wayne and he is a regular at the Wednesday night criterium races in Fort Worth, and I have no doubt that he will continue to improve.
I think our final 70 mile average was around three hours 15 minutes, which, while certainly not my fastest 70, was an incredibly effective training workout and it left me adequately sore for at least 24 hours. I did ride again on Sunday, but it was at a very low intensity and was focused exclusively on recreation. More about that in another blog. I'm going to provide a link to the ride via ridewithgps.com, and I will certainly be purchasing pictures that I will add to this blog post once they become available.
Suffice it to say, that I am really enjoying these rallies, and I'm looking at them as a way to continue improving my fitness, and ride with Tracy when she is available. We will both be attending the monster rally next weekend, which is one of our favorites excavation Mark special shout out to David Simcoe, a client and friend whom I met at the starting line. He and I both remarked that it was a great day of cycling.