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.
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.
This time of year we all start looking at the scale and wait for it to stop climbing. So yes I must admit my weight hasn’t waited for a moment. It has been rising for weeks. Last week the better half started to make little comments about it. She never seems to have a weight problem. Her secret is great jeans, and good genetics. She is careful about how she looks in her jeans, so she is always careful about how much she eats and her whole family is thin.
I on the other hand I come from a “big boned family”. I am 6’-2” as of Sunday I weighed 233.2 pounds as such I’m a Clydesdale. That would be ok if I had the power to go with it. So today is Tuesday January 9, 2013 and I weigh 231.4 lbs. I could tell you I was on my way having lost 1.8 pounds in two days but the reality is my weight swings up and down two or three pounds from day to day and time of day. The long and the short of it is I must lose weight.
In my first ever blog post I mentioned I have high blood pressure. I have been on medication for almost ten years. When I first went to see the doctor about it I was 198 over 98. He said I was a walking dead man. Now I take three medications for a total of six pills a day. I chose to have my diuretic as a separate pill. That way on days when it is very hot and I’m doing a big bike ride I can skip that one so I don’t get too dehydrated. One pill is a potassium supplement to put back what is washed away by the diuretic. Yes I love bananas so I eat one or two a day. Even with the aid of the medications my blood pressure is higher than I or my doctor would like to see. I am normally in the middle to upper 130’s over low to mid 80’s, and that is on medication. I got a good scare at the doctor’s office the other day. The nurse took my pressure and came up with 156/89. When the doctor saw that he took it again. He read 134/80, but it was a scare just the same. I really would like to get this down. The best way to lower it is to lose weight. This problem just can’t wait any longer.
My goal is to lose 30 pounds in 90 days! It will be a lot of portion control. I will be eating fewer deserts. I will be eating more salads for dinner. I will get more sleep. I normally sleep an average of about 6 to 6 ½ hours a night. Last night I slept almost 8 hours. My goal is to lose 1/3 pound a day average. That sounds easy so maybe it will be. I have never been very serious about weight control. I have never really tried to lose weight. The most was ten pounds last summer. I did feel better and I road better. Over the fall and end of the year it all came back.
Like a lot of men I think of myself as I was in my early twenty’s. I was 195 to 200 pounds. I was healthy and strong enough to work hard all day long. I didn’t have high blood pressure. I know I’m twice that age now but if I keep adding weight at the rate I have over the last 30 years I won’t make another 30 years. I decided it is time to hit the weight rest button. When you hit reset you get to go back and start the game over. I want to start the game over. Haven’t we all said “If I knew then what I know now”. I can’t turn back 30 years but I can turn back 30 pounds.
I will post from time to time about how it is going.
Now it’s the time to eat less, ride more, get to where I’m going.
Ok, well here it is, I will now reveal my riding errors of yesterday. Of course, you must keep in mind I haven’t been on my bike in a few months, so this will help explain the following.
Part 1 – I began my ride, a little later than planned. I am wearing my hot pink Jacket, matching new skull cap, and new gloves. I am sure I look good as I ride down the street. I clip in, or I should say, I attempt to clip in. I remember thinking, ‘wow, it’s not good to stay off my bike for so long, I can’t even get my shoes to clip in.’ As I crossed over Huntsman Rd I decided to ride toward Woller Creek. I really wanted to get up a little speed. I still wasn’t clipped in. I stopped and checked the bottom of my shoes to see if perhaps Jeff removed my clips for some unknown reason. They were still there. I tried to clip in while stopped, it was a No Go. Oh well, I really wanted to ride so I soldiered on. After riding on for a little it occurred to me,” Could these be the wrong shoes? Wait, are these my mountain bike shoes? Oh no, These are not road shoes”. How embarrassing. My mind continues, “Ok, this would be so much easier with the right shoes, MAYBE I should go back and get the right shoes, BUT, my Strava is going to look strange, oh well.” So, back to the house I go.
Guess what? I could clip in so fast with the correct shoes- what a relief!
Part 2- So, I cross over Huntsman again and ride. I was thinking “this is so much easier. My skull cap is kind of slipping- I want it to cover my ears. Is it supposed to cover my ears? I think so.” I stop, try to readjust. I ride on, still not perfect I try to readjust while riding, my cap is down to my eyebrows. “I must look ridiculous. If I ride fast enough, no one will notice.” I ride on. Then I notice something odd with my gloves. There is padding on the top side of my gloves, I try to reason this out, could these be mountain bike gloves and maybe the padding is to protect my hands in case I hit a tree (which is a real possibility for me). I thought sure they were road bike gloves. I look at the palm side of my gloves, no padding, now this IS odd. I stop (by now my Strava timing is going to be pathetic). I inspect the gloves closer (sometimes it’s good to be alone). No, I couldn’t have, Is it even possible? I remove a glove and hold it up (I hope no neighbors are looking out the window) I’m still not sure but I remove my other glove- it kind of looks like it could fit either hand (but I like the way the padding looks on the top of the glove) I try it on the opposite hand – IT FITS! I hadn’t noticed the flowers so much but they do look better on the top.
Oh, I got to say padding is much better on the inside of the glove.
So anyway, I chose an odd course and all but I did ride. Did your mom never tell you there would be days like these? This is when it is truly good to laugh at oneself 😀
I’ll bet everyone has had a flat or two. I would hazard a guess that I or we have had a hundred or so flats over the years. When we started MtBiking in the early 1990’s we would have a group of say five riders and have one or two flats each ride. So out of ten tires over a two hour ride we would have to fix at least one flat and often two or more. Some times of year are worse than others. Out of all the flats I don’t remember ever fixing one caused by a nail. I have fixed a few from glass. By far they come from two sources.
I think it was an early visitor to Texas that said “I can tell when I’m in Texas, everything has thorns on it.” That may not be an exact quote but it serves it’s propose. Here in south Texas we are on the edge of desert but have enough rain to make the desert plants do well and enough drought to keep the nicer plants away. Everybody knows about cactus. The prickly pear earns its name. Yep they got a bunch thorns on them. Then comes the Mesquite tree, the thorns can be two inches long and hard enough to go thru a truck tire. Then next are the grass burrs. There are several types of these but most of them can cause a flat tire. The Yucca and the century plant have a large thorn on the end of each leaf.
Between the thorns are the rocks. If we grow anything better than thorns it is rocks. Our riding area is part of the area called the Balcones escarpment. Partly due to the Balcones fault, it describes the southern edge of the Texas hill country. When you combine hilly country with a regular rain drought cycle you get lots of erosion that leads to a lot of exposed rock. Not the smooth sheds of sand stone. You get the loose jagged limestone. This makes the perfect formula for snake bite flats. For the new rider out there it has nothing to do with Rattle snakes. Yes we have those also. It gets its name from the two little cuts your rim puts in your tube when you run over the hard corner of a rock. We would go to extremes to try to prevent snake bite flats. We would try different tires, going to maximum air pressure of 65 psi. Really high air pressure helped with the snake bites but made the handling almost non-existent. The tires would bounce and chatter instead of biting for traction. Forget about a tire that hard molding to a slick rock section. The ride was abusive to say the least. We tried heavy duty tubes and even talcum powder. It’s an old school car race trick. You put a fine dusting of talcum powder on the tubes so they can move slightly in the tire. Racers would do it to help keep tire temperatures down. Well it never seemed to help prevent snake bite flats. We were desperate!
In our efforts to stop the flats we tried all sorts of things. We tried tire liners, they help but I had a set eat thru the tubes after they had been in for a time. We tried self-sealing tubes with some success, but they don’t stop snake bite. We tried slime and it worked well on the thorns but not for snake bites. It is hard to find presta valve stem tubes with removable cores to be able to use the slime. As the years went past we heard more and more about going tubeless. Using latex sealant and how it would almost end flats. Our group of riders has begun to convert to tubeless. Since I went tubeless on my MtBikes I have not had a flat. Not one! I was riding with Jonathan the other day. When we stopped for a breather he saw a large Mesquite thorn sticking out of his tire. He flicked it with his finger nail and it popped out. He said not to worry and spun the tire a few times so the latex would get to the hole. It sealed it just like it is made to.
The moral of the story is if you get a lot of flats go tubeless. We run a mix of tubeless, tubeless ready and tube type tires as tubeless setups. I must say, what we do or don’t do is not advice or recommendation. This blog is for entertainment only. The information contained is not to be considered accurate. Your safety is your responsibility. I or we make no claims to suitability and take no liability. Now with the legal stuff out of the way. Some of the wheels we use are tubeless, tubeless ready and tube type. We are shade tree mechanics; we are mostly on tight budgets, so we find ways to make things work. When I went tubeless I found traction that I had been missing so long I didn’t know it existed. Tires running 35 to 40 psi (remember I weigh 230 lbs.) have such different handling than tires running 60 or 65 psi. It was like riding a completely different bike. The tire can work and mold like the engineer designed it to.
The added benefit is that the tubeless setup is lighter. It is lighter where you need it most, in un-sprung and rotating weight. Have you ever noticed how even economy cars often have alloy wheels? It is because they weigh less. Yes they save gas by reducing weight, but more importantly is it is rotating weight. Rotating weight requires horsepower to turn it. If we think of the human as the motor we are very small engine. We must work as efficiently as possible. By going tubeless we reduce the total weight a little. On a MtBike and rider that total weight may be 260 lbs. as in my case. So going tubeless may save say 1 ½ lbs. That would be about ½ of one percent. We also reduce the rotational weight by a much greater percentage. Using our example that same 1 ½ lbs. saved is then a portion of the weight of the wheel and tire combo. Given a combined tire and wheel weight of 8 lbs. that would mean our 1 ½ lbs. saving becomes an 18% reduction in rotational weight. True the amount of energy (horsepower) to rotate the tire may not drop by 18% any savings is an advantage. To tell you how much energy you would save will require someone more educated than a shade tree bicycle mechanic.
You say this guy has no idea what he is talking about. Remember my two favorite bicycle mechanics. They dreamed and figured out how to do what the great scientist before them had not done. Who were these bicycle mechanics? Orville and Wilber Wright are the fathers of modern aviation. By the way the Wright Brothers bicycle on display at the National Air and Space Museum looks very much like a modern fixi.
To quote Christopher Cross “Ride like the wind”