Sunday, October 7, 2012


I'm sitting at the computer Sunday morning, rather than doing my usual 42 mile 360 Loop ride.  The 50 (F)degrees didn't deter me, I had on my tights, base layer, jersey, with a jacket in reserve.  But there is no sun and the cold wind bending the trees had me closing the garage door just seconds after I opened it.  Today's ride will be in the kitchen doing a Carmichael TT workout.  I have long since worn out the video, but really no longer need it.

Last Friday Marilane and I drove down to Gruene, Tx, me to preview the ITT (Individual Time Trial) because it is new this year, and TTT (Team Time Trial) courses, she to browse the shops.  The two-man team course is a 26.6 mile loop that starts and ends in Gruene and the individual course is a 10.5 mile loop beginning and ending at the Canyon Lake Dam.  Think of a figure 8, with about a mile of road constituting the intersecting part.  I estimated doing both loops, slightly modified, at 40 miles and that it should take me about three hours. 

Last year the ITT consisted of 15 miles of the TTT course, then a bit of a sting to the top of Canyon Dam.  Therefore, being defending age-group champion, I was familiar with this really great ride down the River Road to Sattler.  I had been looking forward to racing it again and mourned the change.  Anyhow, I rode my road bike and meandered my way to Canyon Dam, remembering the undulations and gear shifting needed for maximum speed.  There is a slight chance I may be asked to substitute in the TTT, so I wanted to be prepared.

The ITT course starts with .8 mile across the dam, on new, smooth asphalt, followed by a mile through a park (more of a wilderness area with a slight downhill and uphill loop).  The course map indicates severe turns; and the main reason I wanted to preview the road.  The turns aren't all that bad and hopefully they will blow the gravel before the race, allowing me to remain in the aero position.

At about 3.5 miles there is a turn onto Rt 306.  This is a major two-lane road with lots of traffic and at the turn it had a teensy-weensy shoulder.  But it also had a middle turn-lane and generally I don't mind riding in the middle of the road.  This lane had a lot of road debris and all too soon I saw that it petered out.  This brought me to a stop to consider my options.  I could return on the river road and skip the 4 miles of preview, or I could gird my loins (for the younger generation: suck it up) and continue on.

Once the turn-lane stopped, the shoulder widened (to about half what I thought was safe).  Truthfully, the shoulder was about six feet wide, but three feet of it was littered with road crap, and the other three was rough as a cob.  Giving thanks for my 25mm Continentals, I soldiered on.

In my turn-lane deliberations, I determined I would skip the intersecting part of the figure 8, and I had already ridden the last portion of the ITT,  so that left 4 miles of ITT and about 10 miles of the TTT.  All uphill and against the wind.  Perhaps a slight exaggeration.  Yes, the wind was in my face the last 14 miles.  My computer shows 4 climbs of around 4% before what would have been the turn for the ITT (the course map profile indicates only slight inclines, once again proving you need to preview a race course).  It shows a 5% and a 10% (what is billed as a long climb of 13% in the race propaganda), plus some minor 2-3% for the TTT portion.  And, all the while, traffic buzzing too close to my ear.  I am not adverse to riding in traffic, and no one got close enough for me to give them a salute, but I won't be doing this again. 

Needless to say, going too fast never became an issue.  Statistically, on the River Road portion, I averaged 15.7mph (I did 21mph in the race last year).  For the 17.9 mile return trip, mostly on Rt 306, I averaged 12.1.  Because I'd cut several miles from the course, the total time of 2hrs 35 minutes exactly coincided with the amount of time Marilane browsed, and we arrived back at the car within a minute of each other.

I changed clothes and we wandered over to the River House Tea Room for a superb lunch,  then  drove home.  Now to training for four more weeks and hoping no one gives me a call to substitute for a team member.

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