Actually, today's ride was with Brian and Callie. But we were there because of Callie. She is going to do the Rookie Tri in Austin, more specifically at Lake Long (previously Decker Lake). She is a self-professed terrible swimmer, but a better-than-a-lot cyclist and a good (but could be better) runner. I felt she could make up a lot of time on the bike, but would need something better than what she is currently riding. I have a super fast Felt B2 with Zipp 404 and 808 wheels and thought this would give her the edge she needs. The ride today was a recon of the course.
Reality set in. Callie has never ridden with aero bars and we are only four weeks away from the race. While that is enough time to be familiar with the bars, it really isn't enough to be comfortable in a race. Plus, in thinking about the course, I decided now wasn't the time to break her in on a TT bike when the course itself is hilly and pretty rough for long patches. We went with Plan B: putting the Zipps on her bike.
Apparently the Expo Center is having a vintage bike show. A very large one. Old cars streamed by our parking place for several hours, getting into the Expo Center. Traffic backed up.
I am really, really familiar with this course. They run the Decker Challenge and the Double Decker (foot races, 13.1 and 26.2 miles respectfully) there and back when I was running marathons, this is the course where I strained my achilles so badly that eventually I stopped running and turned to cycling. It is also the course for an Austin Senior Games cycling event (2005). It was my second year of racing and I earned two bronze medals in the time trials and got a flat in the road race. The flat came as I turned a corner too fast and rolled the tire (or something to that effect). It is extremely challenging with quite a bit of climbing. Much more so than in most time trials. I hate this course.
But to be sure Callie got a proper recon, I sucked it up and we rode it. The temperature was great, the wind likewise. I won't describe it as gale-force, but quite strong.
Because of traffic concerns we skipped part of the route by taking the bikeway up to the gun range and started on Lindell Road. This is best ridden in the middle of the road, and can be taken in the big ring. At the end of Lindell is a right turn and an immediate uphill. In my opinion, you should reduce to the small chain ring while coasting up to the turn and go for the high rpm's. I lost Brian and Callie on this hill and followed as best I could.
They waited for me at the top of the next hill and we headed east toward the toll road and a right turn and another hill. I'm pleading oxygen debt in not recognizing the next turn. We stopped at it, Brian suggested it was the right road, but I didn't think so. He acquiesced and so we added two more hills and about four miles to the circuit. Just as well, in that we had a nice stop at a convenience store.
Back on course, we now came upon backed-up traffic threading its way into the Expo Center. We had a wide right-of-way so cautiously made our path through the cars and back to the starting point.
Round two. Back on the bikeway, back on Lindell Road. They are warmed up, I am tired. At least I kept them in sight. So much so that I saw Callie miss the turn (the one Brian rightly had the last time and who was waiting a bit past it this time); I saw Brian come back and chase her down. Well it took him at least a half mile, maybe three quarters to catch her. I, meanwhile, stopped at the turn and waited for their return. They never returned. I figured they had taken the same path as the first loop, therefore headed down the correct road to the intersection I knew they would come to. Sure enough, less than five minutes later they were in sight.
We made it back to Decker Lane, but rather than stay on course and take a right turn, we intentionally went straight. Without the backed up traffic, cars were now at full speed. We didn't need that hassle. So we rode an extra couple of miles and picked up the bikeway and cruised back to our starting point and the cars. I got my wheels back.
What with the wind and trying to keep up with Brian and Callie, I was pretty much tuckered out. It was fun and nobody got hurt (always a good thing). I've written before how I can be going full bore and look in my mirrors and she seems to be filing her nails (certainly not being winded). She feels the same when she rides with Todd and Brian and whoever else. But that is the good part of riding with friends. You give it your best, and if they are faster they'll wait at an appropriate place. It's about riding, not about placing.