Tag Archives: rest area

Tour de Cure 2014 ride report

21 Jun

The Tour de Cure (TdC) is a charity ride to help the American Diabetes Association fight diabetes. This year’s ride was May 10th and started from Retama Horse Race Track parking lot. The pre-ride check in was just about daylight at 6:30 and roll out was to be at 7:15.
The Tour organizers provide a riders Breakfast. This year was Tacos as usual, after all this is south Texas. We are the land of Tex-Mex food. The breakfast tacos we enjoy are normally a soft flour tortilla with eggs and some other fillings like potatoes or sausage or bean and cheese. They also had bagels with cream cheese. Fruit juice to drink.
The weather forecast was for a bright sunny day with moderate temperatures. Early in the morning it was cool enough for arm warmers. These stayed on until about mile fifteen. Then with the warming day and a quick tempo riding warmed things to the point of wanting to shed the arm warmers.
The Team Lanterne Rouge was represented by three of us. Kevin, Mario and myself. Some years we have had 6 ride in TdC. In all there is about a dozen members of Team Lanterne Rouge. With the cost of fundraising and personal schedules it is hard to get big group rides together.
Starting from the back.
We have learned in these charity rides it is a good Idea to line up way at the back. It’s good for the moral. When you start up front the faster riders that started behind you pass you. Having a bunch of people pass you makes you feel even slower. When you feel slower you are slower and you get passed by even the other slow people. When you line up near the back then all the fast riders are ahead of you so they never have to pass you and they won’t make you feel slower. Then you get the benefit of being able to pass lots of people and that makes you feel faster. When you feel faster you go faster and you pass more people and you feel good about yourself. As we all know if there is to bikes heading in the same direction, regardless of what they say, they are racing.
Another advantage to starting at the back is that you are encouraged to start slower. Few people I know will warm up before a charity ride. Yes they will before a race but not an easy pace ride. As we all know the body needs to warm up a bit before exertion. When starting at the front the temptation is to roll out hard and fast. By starting at the back we take it real easy for a couple of miles until the crowed thins out. Then we are warmed up before we start kicking up the pace.
As we got started and the crowed was thinning out everybody stopped. Just as one of the front riders had crossed a little bridge and went hard at it to accelerate up the hill her chain broke. This unsettled her and she went down. This brought almost everyone to a complete stop. Fortunately one of her team riders was near her to help her to the side of the road and to call for help. The organizers station volunteer mechanics from LBS at the start and at each rest area for on route service needs.
First rest area and second rest area.
Each of the rest areas are about ten miles apart. They are well equipped with helpful volunteers. They are ready to hold your bike, get you a drink or a bite to eat. These people do the work of putting this ride on and really help make it fun to do. One of the things you can count on is they always have port-a-potties. As we were to about mile 7 the morning coffee kicked in and I starting thinking we will stop at the first rest stop and I will use the rest room. About mile 12 I realized we had shot right past the first stop. By mile 18 or 19 I was contemplating doing a rolling relief like the pros do on the grand tours. In short I was getting desperate. I was glad to see rest area 2. I was not glad to see the long line for the port-a-potties. I guess a lot of riders missed the first stop. While I was waiting I saw one of my friends and chatted. He was waiting for his wife, she was the one who had stopped to help her teammate that had crashed at mile one with the broken chain. He said she is so much faster than himself that he had expected her to have caught him by now. Finally it was my turn at the potties. This is the one time I really don’t like bib shorts. After the mandatory business was out of the way and the water bottle was topped off we rolled out.
From the start to the second rest area we had averaged over 18 mph. By the time we got on the road again we were still looking at a sub 4 hour time for our 65 mile ride. We all were feeling good making good time and rolling fast.
Third rest area
The 10 miles from our stop to the next was quick and easy. The day was warming up and I know about getting cramps. I was worried that if I was not careful I would get cramps. I was thinking about the worst cramps I had ever had. It happened a couple of years ago at this very rest stop location. That year the route was different and this location was about 52 miles that day. This year it was about mile 30. That year my legs cramped so bad I couldn’t even stand much less ride. Since that terrible day I have learned about Pickle juice. Eating dill pickles is a rider standard and drinking some of the juice from the jar. This is intended to prevent cramps. Someone has invented a sport drink called Pickle Juice. It tastes like drinking out of a jar of pickles. It works wonders on cramps. This rest area was handing out the stuff. They even had somebody dressed in a pickle suit.
When we rolled in to this rest stop a little guy came running up offering to hold my bike. He was very young maybe 8 or 9. He was so small that my saddle was almost head high on him. After making sure he had my bike under control I started to go to fill my water bottle and eat some cookies. When I saw one of the bigger boys trying to take over the bike holding duty. The little guy didn’t want to let it go. That’s when I stepped in. I asked how the little guy was doing holding my bike. He looked up with a nervous and shy “Fine”. So I told the older boy “Looks like my bike is in fine hands, maybe you can help someone else.” The little guy smiled like he had just won a prize! He stayed put holding my bike until I was ready to go.
When you leave this rest area you turn right and a few hundred yards up the road you start the biggest climb of the day. It’s not all that much of a hill but it is what it is. Let me just say I have my road bike set up with what I call my alpine gearing. It is a 3×9 with a 50-39-24 triple chainrings on the front and an 11-32 cassette on the back. It is not as fast as fast as my speed gears but it sure will climb and it’s great for endurance rides. When we started up the hill I passed my teammates and caught up to a rider on a Specialized Shiv. He was struggling, as I spun right by him. I could see he was in his lowest gear but the bike was geared too fast for climbing. I still had a whole lower chainring to go down if needed. I looked over and said something to be encouraging. He didn’t reply and only slightly reacted, so I think he heard me. When we reach the top of the hill the road flattened out. I backed off my pace to wait for my teammates. The guy on the Specialized Shiv soon passed me and again didn’t say anything. I thought ‘Ok perhaps he is in a zone so deep that he is not social’. Then as I watched him going up the road he was riding on the left side of the lane. He was just a foot or two from the center line. For clarification we ride the Tour de Cure on open roads with traffic. We have police at most major intersections and they give us right of way but we are expected to obey all traffic laws. We are also supposed to show curtesy to other road users. While his riding down the middle of the road may not exactly be against the law it was not showing road use curtesy. When a car came up behind us with a loud exhaust note that you couldn’t miss even if you are deaf. It was the kind of exhaust that makes everything shake. I heard him coming a long way back. I made sure I stayed to the right side of the lane to give him all the room available. He passed very respectfully at a modest speed. When he came up behind the guy on the Specialized Shiv, who didn’t move over. The car driver held back to our pace behind him for a ways. Then tapped his horn once. When the bike still didn’t move over the car went way out in the oncoming lane to go around the biker. I noted two things. First the car driver though being a young man in a muscle car (not to sound stereotypical) he obeyed the road rules and showed curtesy. Second the bike rider demonstrated an attitude unbecoming a cyclist and failed to set a good example. He rode as if he owned the road. Its little things like this that give drives a bad attitude toward bikes. We have to be on our best behavior all the time.
Half way, slow the pace, working together.
I ride with a Garmin 500 to record the ride and to entertain me with numbers. I like statistics, I’m a bit geeky that way. So I was keeping an eye on it when the Garmin showed me 32.5 miles. This should be the halfway point. I pulled over and let my buddies catch up. We were at just under 2 hours riding so far. That meant we were on schedule for a sub 4 hour metric century. Ok I know that’s not fast. I was thinking about it when they rolled up. I immediately saw the expressions on their faces. I knew right then that a sub 4 hour time would not happen. We never drop our riders on a group ride. In a race that is a different story. This was not a race. If it had been I would not have been leading. Some of our team is much younger (Ok all of them on this ride are younger) and faster than me. I was having a good day feeling strong and fast but one of our number was having a bad day. After taking a break for a few minutes we started out again with a more disciplined approach. On a ride like this when one guy is getting in trouble we treat him as team leader and he sets the pace. Like when you watch a pro bike race and the whole team is protecting the one rider. We each take turns at pulls but when we go into protection mode that rider gets to sit on. We never have to discuss it, we just do it, we just slip back in the pace line ahead of the designated man. Everyone seems to know and understand. I have been the designated man too many times. When every other rider is working extra to help get you home with the pack. You never do anything to make him feel like he is holding you up. This is what friendship and teamwork is all about. Working together so none of your people can fail.
Chipseal, Rest area four
We had resumed riding after our reorganization and we cranked along the central Texas farm to market roads. Most of these roads have been coated with “Chipseal”. If you are not familiar with “Chipseal” it is a cost effective way to seal the surface of a road to stop moisture from getting thru the cracks and under the pavement. Chipseal also adds traction for cars. Both of these extend the life of the road and this is good. I HATE CHIPSEAL!!! It leaves the road surface very rough. It makes for what is called heavy cycling roads. This requires you to work harder for every mile. The rough surface causes noticeable increases in vibration and rolling resistance for bicyclists. The constant vibrations take their toll. The joints start to become sore from the constant shaking. For me it’s the fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders that feel it most. After you have ridden on it for hours and you turn on to a smooth road the difference is startling. The world gets quitter. You feel like spinning the cranks a little faster. That’s about the time we reached Rest area four.
We again took a short break and refilled our bottles. They had cookies! I have a weakness for Oreo cookies. They had the little snack packs. I’m a big guy so each sandwich is just a bite size morsel of goodness. When riding a 65 mile bike ride you can get away with eating a bunch of cookies. They make quick fuel and last longer than gel packs.
The other guys used the restroom and we got ready to go. You do know that if you’re not drinking enough to have to use the restroom every couple of hours you’re likely getting dehydrated.
Rest area five
Roll out was downhill. That would not sound important but after 40+ miles it’s a nice benefit to getting started again. This took us along side of a creek for a few miles. Along the creeks is where the trees are. With the trees come some shade. Most of what we have ridden was between farmer’s crops. Really when you have passed a few thousand rows of corn it all starts to look kind of similar.
When we pulled into the next rest stop I put my bike in a rack to hold it. The LBS mechanic pointed out that when I did I had not noticed that I put my rear derailleur in a bind. It was nice of him to point it out in a friendly manor. We chatted about bikes. He noticed my deep gearing setup. He was a single speed man himself. His shop was in toward downtown and they specialize in town cruiser bikes and custom single speed bikes.
After filling up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sport drink it was time to go.
To the finish line
The last ten miles of any longish ride seems to be the longest. This is really true when it is about 16 or 17 miles. Each rest stop was about 10 miles apart. This put the last stop about mile 50, but the ride was to be 65. It took a long time, our pace was down, it was getting warm, and the hated Chipseal was taking a toll. We paused on one hill on the ride in to let one of the guys stretch out the beginnings of a cramp.
As we made the last push coming we could hear the announcer talking people in. You can tell when he really recognizes a rider or is just calling them in by looking up the rider’s number. It felt good when he called us in by our team colors and by name. He added a little personal comment about the team keeping together every year. It feels good that they remember you out of hundreds of riders.
After ride food
After the ride the organizers always have a post ride dinner for us. This time it was ok, like most of these things it must be hard to feed close to 1500 people over several hours of completions. We hung around long enough to see some of our friends make it in.
We compared what each of us recorded for route mileage. Mine was lowest and we took an average of the three and what the official route notes said. We think the ride was just over 67 miles not the 62 or 65 that some of the paperwork implied.
The ride home, Milkshakes or Beer
You know it was a long ride when the big decision is Milkshakes or Beer. You see after a medium ride a Beer really sounds good. When the ride gets longer, harder and hotter a Milkshake sure gets to sound wonderful. We chose to stop at a local burger place that is known for thick shakes that you can just barely suck thru a straw.
It was nice to have someone else drive so I got to take a nap.

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