This is the 25th anniversary of the Outlaw Trail. I've been telling everyone that Kurt and I did the first one, but in researching our photo album, plus seeing that the jersey I have says 1988, unless a younger memory can come up with a different year, it looks like my first one was the third anniversary. Anyhow, I've done ten of the twenty-five, including the memorable one when they closed the 100 mile course due to heavy rain, thunder, etc. They have since changed the course to stay east of I-35 and on less traveled roads.
I've only done one century, mostly 100k or 50 miles. This is the end of the cycling for the year, and truthfully, I'm more or less cycled-out and ready to cut back. Let me recap this year: outrageous wind that went on endlessly into July; outrageous heat (130 days over 90 degrees, of which 90 were over 100) and zero rain; seriously under-trained. And, I just got back from doing an epic ride and am still recovering.
So, I again signed up for the 100k ride. That was before looking at the weather forecast. Right after plunking down my registration fee, I returned home to see that we had a 40% chance of rain, and 100% chance of high wind. Bummer. As Saturday approached, the forecast moderated somewhat, in that the rain showers would probably come in the afternoon, and the high wind (40mph) was downgraded to 15-25mph. Of course, no one EVER pays attention to the low figure.
The Outlaw Trail ride is so well organized and has so many volunteers. Parking, getting ready, the start, all went smoothly. We even started out with the wind mostly at our backs. I only saw one of my Cyclopaths jerseys in the crowd. My friend, Janet, was with me at the start, but, like me, is very tentative and cautious when doing a charity ride. So, she was somewhere behind me.
I thought my speed to be average for a tour, but folks kept passing me. Not in bunches, but fairly steady. About a half hour into the ride I saw Barry (Blue Ridge ride partner) coming from the other direction. We waved. Not long after, Janet came up and passed, so I increased pace to keep up. Eventually we reached the northern most point of the ride and turned south, into the wind. About this time, Barry again appeared, coming from the opposite direction. This time he turned around and rode with me for a mile or so, to the rest stop. I transferred a flash drive from the Blue Ridge ride (Rick's pics), and he went on his way, as did I.
By this time, I had determined 100k would take too long and get me too beat up by the wind, so I switched to the 50 mile route (the way the routes are configured, switching among the 40,50, and 62.5 is very easy). My rest stop was quicker than the ladies, so I was on my own. The route direction continued south and east, the wind direction from the southeast. Most of the roads were quite familiar to me, a few were not. Eventually, I came to the Taylor city limits and knew the next turn would be to the west and finally give me a favorable wind. The next rest stop came at mile 35 (for me) and as I prepared to leave, one of the ladies mentioned that they had pickle juice because many riders started complaining about cramps at this stop. I took the opportunity to take a few ounces, because my calf had made a mild complaint.
Now, with the wind somewhat on my left shoulder and a short rest, my speed increased and I began enjoying the ride. About this time I saw Janet coming from the other direction. Hmmm. It seems she, too, had opted for the 50 mile ride, then the 40 mile ride. As soon as I saw her, I did a U-turn and joined the group. I guessed my final mileage now would be around 45.
The last few miles had a few hills, against the wind. We now passed people who had over-exerted themselves and were walking their bikes. Eventually we entered the park for the last few miles of traffic-less riding and cruised to the finish line. My estimate was correct: 45.5 miles in 3 hours, 5 minutes. I drove home, had lunch, had a nap, and am now musing about how beat up I feel. I'm not going back to check, but I suspect I whine about the wind at least once a month. It really is a big bully. I'm pretty sure this is my last organized ride of the year. From here on out, I'll cherry-pick my days.