Marilane took our grandson (and his mother) to New York City for his tenth birthday. That left me with four days of cycling (I would say "uninterrupted" but that might get misinterpreted). Friday I dropped them off at the airport and returned home to ride the Limmer Loop. The plan called for 75 minutes, and I did an out-and-back in 74 minutes 59 seconds. Needless to say, I've done this a few times and know when to turn around. So far, so good.
Saturday called for another 75 minute spin, but rain and wind had me deciding to skip cycling for a day. Besides, ever since State, my legs have not been very lively. Sunday called for a forty mile group ride, perfect in that the Bicycle Sport Shop ride happened to be forty-one miles. I arrived on time, after checking the radar and seeing that the front (and rain) had blown through and only a few sprinkles were left. I had my rain jacket on and off we went. Immediately I noticed the riding was a whole lot smoother than it should have been. A quick check of my front tire gave me the reason. Faced with the high probability of having to change the tube in the now-sprinkling rain (and holding up the group) or calling a quick end to my ride, I did a quick right and returned to the car. Two miles hardly qualifies as a ride.
Monday was a planned "off" day, and again weather played a part in keeping me off the bike. Plus, Marilane was returning and the house needed to be squared-away, and the group picked up at the airport.
Meanwhile, I planned my preview of Gruene for either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the weather. To that end, I posted on FB my intention and inquired if anyone wished to accompany me. Shannon Marie Bryant responded positively, and Wednesday was agreed to. Bear with me for just a little more background.
Tuesday my agenda was the usual ride: I'd do an hour by myself then join the Tuesday Night Bicycle Sport Shop group for an hour and a half. Wednesday called for some hard intervals at various wattage and minutes between. You see where I am going. I switched days on the intervals, doing them Tuesday morning. It was a hard workout and should have been all for the day. But this was the last Tuesday evening ride until next spring. This is an intermediate group, but I can generally stay ahead of two-thirds of them on the critical Old Spicewood Springs and 360 sections. I figured I'd hang out at the back and take it easy. I should have read all of the FB postings. For this last evening, it seems a lot of folks were trying for a PR on them! As it turned out, I got left in the dust, so to speak. The morning workout had drained all the "oomph" out of me.
So we finally get to Wednesday. Shannon came by and we loaded up her gear in my car and off we went, arriving mid-morning at the Lazy L&L Campground, the starting line for the race. The morning started at 55 degrees, but had climbed to a nice 68, clear blue sky and only a slight wind when we started. The first seven miles are on River Road and are mostly flat or slightly rolling, and an excellent warm-up. She has a hamstring that needed pampering, and we agreed she would lead at her pace except for the steeper hills, where I needed to see just what gears I needed in order to choose which bike to ride in the race. Her opening pace was quicker than I expected, and I struggled to keep up.
Then we got to the first climb. I used all of my gears, including a short spurt standing, but that was sufficient to determine my time-trial bike could make it up okay. I stopped for a short squirt of gel, only to see Shannon ride by. She was doing heart-rate long intervals, so her goal was keeping around 85% of max (she told me the range, I'm just assigning a percentage). For the next fifty minutes we climbed six hills, certainly using a lot of small gears and keeping her in the assigned range. Of course, there were a few downhills also, but after the sixth climb, it was all mostly downhill. We manged to make enough right turns to finally get the wind at our backs for the last three hills. Once back on to River Road, we started a three-mile cool-down to allow her hamstring to softly recover. All the while we were noting the course. It still had a few sharp inclines, but continued generally down.
Gorgeous weather. The temperature had climbed to 84 degrees when we finished, and the sky remained azure blue. We finished in one hour, forty-one minutes. I did it in one hour, thirty-nine minutes last year, but didn't do three miles of cool-down.
It was a great workout, and I'm glad I had the excellent company. Some of the sections I had not remembered, and for a few of the hills I mentally noted how to attack them. Unlike last year, the finish line isn't the downhill into Sattler, so a little bit needs to be saved for the last section of River Road. There are still some openings in the team time trial on Sunday (the ITT is full).