Spicewood Travel Blog› entry 10 of 11 › view all entries
Ride Day for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS starts early. Riders start arriving around 6:30 am and spend time getting their bikes ready, pumping up their tires, checking brakes, and getting their rider numbers on their bike, helmets and jerseys. The Ride organization provides breakfast for all riders and crew that morning as well. The breakfast is always a great socializing event -- a place to meet up with your team mates, find friends that are also doing the Ride, and to met new friends. There are always interviews being conducted by local press and last minute weather updates. The excitement in the air is palpable. Conditions for the Ride were perfect. There had been a big rainstorm the night before, so the air was clean and cool this morning and there was no humidity as a cold front had passed through.
I had a mishap with my bike on the last training ride that I was on -- the water bottle cage cam loose from the frame as I was riding, and when my leg came around while pedaling, I hit it and popped the rivet out from the frame. When I went to get it checked at the bike shop, they told me it was likely a defect in the frame and would have to check with the manufacturer (Specialized) about how to handle. My bicycle is 4 years old -- so I was doubtful that the warranty would cover it. Much to my delight and surprise, Specilized stood behind the frame and shipped me a new one -- an upgrade from my original bike, and in a 2008 model! It had come in on Thursday, so I had it in time for the Ride.
I got to Krause Springs about 7:15am. Scott and Ethan carpooled out with me. Ethan is to work at Pit Stop No. 1 -- and brought along a nurses outfit for his costume. That should be very interesting! Guess it's a good time to blog about the pit stops for this Ride. The pit stops are about every 10 to 15 miles along the route and provide a place to stop and refill your water bottles, eat a banana, an apple, or an orange, grab a power bar, reapply sun screen and relieve yourself if needed at the port-a-potties provided at each. For this Ride, each of the pit stops have a theme, and they are usually over the top. Each one is like a party you don't want to leave -- except that you have to in order to finish the Ride.
Not only are the pit stops a little wacky -- but also the Sag and Sweep Crew. We have a lot of crazy ones out there -- a truck load of Army Guys in Camo (thanks Tony), a French Foreign Legionnaire on a Motorcycle (thanks Phil), a Suburban with land locked Lifeguards (thanks Pat and Laurie), and a group in a pick up truck looking like Reno 911 (thanks Frank).
I had time to grab a cup of coffee, eat a bowl of granola and yogurt and a banana.
I did my best to round up all my team members for a group shot before we headed out to the starting line. We did get a couple of good shots in, but I was not able to get everyone together. It was like herding cats!
We made our way to the starting line and tried to get our group together for the ride out. It was great fun to see other friends showing up and to see other teams jerseys. One team, the Gladiators, came in full regalia -- leather-like skirts over their bike shorts, centurion like headgear over their helmets.
For the first time, the Ride organizers allowed children to register and ride this year. They had a special 10 mile relatively flat loop for them, and let the kids take off before the other riders were allowed to ride out. There were about 40 of them and it looked like they were having a great time. Nice to see them involved in the effort too.
The Ride marketing folks came up with some great posters and slogans for the Ride this year. All the marketing materials were done like 1950's travel posters, and the Ride jersey was done to match that theme. One of the slogans was "Enjoy the Hill Country Ride, Especially the Down Hill Parts!" My favorite was "The Hill Country Ride -- Easy on the Eyes, Hell on the Thighs!" Both definitely ring true, as the Ride has a number of hills -- and the uphill portion is definitely hell on the thighs!
It was almost 9 by the time we actually rode out, so we were running a bit late.
Pit Stop No. 1 turned out to be my favorite of the day.
The next leg was a 10.
Pit Stop No. 2 was a wild west saloon. The volunteers were dressed in western clothes and had made souvenir bracelets for the Riders out of twine and beads. They definitely were a little rustic and fitting for the theme.
The next leg was a 7 mile ride to the decision point about whether you want to do the Olympic Extension (which adds 20 miles to the Ride) or just stay with the original 50 mile route. I rode with Scott to the decision point, and we decided we were feeling great and wanted to go ahead and do the Extension. The Olympic Extension is a 10 mile ride out to another Pit Stop and then straight back along the same route to rejoin the normal route. The extension is really a beautiful ride, it is just very hilly. Scott and I stuck together for this portion of the Ride and did quite well, particularly since Scott had never done the extension before.
The Pit Stop on the Olympic Extension was an Olympic Gym. I am not sure who all the characters were supposed to be, as the only one I recognized was the Richard Simmons wannabe. I did get my picture taken with him -- he was a very good sport! For everyone who did the Olympic Extension, you were given a sticker for your helmet or jersey indicating you had done the Olympic Extension. Wonder if they will be a collector's item one day? LOL
The ride back to the main part of the route was just as hilly has when I had gone out! I was hoping that someone would have levelled it out while I was a Pit 3, but that was not to be.
The lunch pit stop was set up as Tavern on the Green, after the famous restaurant in Manhattan. They had a huge sign that said Tavern on the Green, and even had valet parking for your bike -- although there was no attendant when I came by, and I had to leave mine by the out houses! Lunch was good - I had more water, a banana and half a hummus sandwich. Team mates Everett, Scott, Mark and Kathy were all there at the same time, so we ate together.
Coming out of the lunch pit, I discovered I had a flat tire. I thought it must have been a slow leak, so instead of changing the tube out, I tried to half-ass it and just pumped it up since I was close to the end.
This leg of the Ride has the biggest obstacle of the day: Ski Hill. Not sure what the real name of this hill is, but we all call it Ski Hill as it is steep enough that you could get a good ski run out of it (downhill, of course) should it ever see snow. This is the longest, steepest, hardest hill of the day, and it's all up hill! The crew had it set up like "Mount Everest" and had signs like "Base Camp, elevation 768 feet" at the bottom, "Mid Point, elevation 15.000 feet" at the middle, and "Summit -- 29,000 feet" at the top.
The last leg of the ride had a few hills, but nothing major. It was only a little over 7 miles left to the end, but it felt like 15 at this stage of the game.
Coming around the last bend before the end, I was pleased to be riding with 3 other team mates: Everett, Mark and Scott.
We stayed around to cheer in the last rider -- this year it was Andy, one of the Production Team members. Not sure what happened to cause him to come in so late, but he sure looked happy to be done! There was a huge crowd still on hand to cheer him in -- and of course, there was a lot of tears to go with the cheers.