Sunday, October 30, 2011


Extremes! Bah! We went from record heat to really chilly in a few short days. I had to make an exception to rule #2 (pay attention, Gibbs). Rule #2 states if the temperature is below 40 degrees, I wait for warmer weather. However, Saturday I left the house with a reading of 37 and drove north to Florence, arriving at 8:45am and a rise in temperature of 2 degrees. But that was in the shade. It felt warmer in the sun, and there was only a slight breeze which would be at our backs for the first hour. I had on tights, base layer, jersey, wind jacket, and long fingered gloves and a need for a good ride.

It's not like I was the only one here. We had an even dozen intrepid cyclists. About ten miles into the ride, seven of us turned right for the valley ride, five continued on for a hill climb. I had wanted to climb Eagle's Nest for several years, but never got around to it. This time, at the beginning of the ride Karen found a gash in her rear tire. Not bad enough to trash the ride, but definitely a concern. I always carry a spare tire in the car, so put it in the Camelbak just in case she had a spectacular blow-out. When Karen opted for the valley ride, her spare tire holder went with her.

True prediction, the temperature warmed rapidly and as we made various short stops, articles of outerwear came off and joined the tire in the Camelbak. All in all, we had a very pleasant 33 mile ride.

Sunday morning came in at 47 degrees, clear, with a slight wind. I attired myself similar to yesterday and headed out to Steiner Ranch Steakhouse to ride with the Jack and Adams group. I had not done this ride before and was anxious to see how it went. About a zillion cyclists showed up. Perhaps I exaggerated somewhat, so let's say around 75.

The fast group led out and we gave them about a minute headstart, which is all they needed. I joined the intermediate group and slotted in about ninth (of maybe 40). We went east on RR620 and our leader kept an easy pace (18-20mph) all the time on 620 and even further on El Salido. Once on N Lakeline Blvd, the pace increased. The group split due to the increased speed and red lights, but I managed to stay with the lead group. They gapped me at one point, but I dropped into the aerobars and clawed back. There were only about ten of us.

When they turned onto Crystal Falls Parkway, they upped the speed again and I dropped back, knowing a large hill loomed. Of course, I thought we would climb the hill, regroup, and retrace our steps. Duh! Not these guys. First of all, we went down the hill (s), hit the turn-around, then climbed back up. No stopping. I mentally waved good-by and struck out alone. I checked the mileage and it occurred to me that this 11% climb came at the same mileage of the Gruene Time Trial next week-end. I had been wondering if I could finish the TT up the climb without having to get off the bike. Well, the effort in keeping up with the group approximated that of my TT, so I made sure in climbing the hill I stayed in my 25 cog (eschewing the 28), because my TT bike only goes to 25. Ok, I can do that.

I took it easy on the way back, and enjoyed the cycling. The temperature increased, the wind increased (but not too bad), and the traffic increased (pook). Safely turning left into Steiner Ranch I noticed flashing lights ahead and saw a fire engine, and various police vehicles. It seems a vehicle did not negotiate the sharp right turn and had flown off into the trees/bushes. I suspect it happened late last night, but can't be sure since I hadn't noticed it when I drove in (then again, the car was quite aways off the road in more or less covered by bushes).

Two days in a row, great rides with a nip in the air.

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