Ride Day

Spicewood Travel Blog

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Pre Ride Gathering of my Team

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.

Team Full On, Full On prior to Ride
  The winds were light.  The sky was bright blue, without a cloud in sight.  Could be the best ride conditions I have ever experienced for this Ride!

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.

Gladiators join the Starting Line
  I was so excited to have it in time!

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.

Here I am at the Starting Line
  I am not sure what to expect this year, as they have been pretty tight lipped about the themes.  Last year, each pit stop was modeled after Musicals.  There was "the Best Little Outhouse in Texas" after the muscal Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and "Wiz" just to name a couple.

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.

Along the Ride
  That should provide good fuel for the first leg of the Ride this morning.  I had to pass on the breakfast tacos -- they looked great, but I did not want anything heavy on my stomach so close to ride out time.

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.

Pit One, Studio 54
  They looked great!

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.

Liza Minelli, Tim and Truman Capote at Studio 54
  The first leg of the Ride was a 12 mile jaunt out to Pit Stop No. 1.  This leg was a really nice ride along Little Cypress Creek, with a couple of low water crossings and few hills.  The low water crossings were all dry on this leg, so we did not have to get off and walk the bikes this year like we have had to do in the past.  Low water crossings are very dangerous as they get very slippery and bikes lose traction in the water and you are very likely to go down.  It's a good way to break a bone, so always a good idea to get off and walk at these places if there is water.  I rode most of this leg with Scott and Robert, and we made good time.

Pit Stop No. 1 turned out to be my favorite of the day.

The Naughty Nurse is recommending muscle relaxers for after the Ride
  The theme for this pit stop was Studio 54.  The volunteers working this one were all dressed up like Studio 54 patrons from that club's hey days in the 80's.  Andy Warhol, Liz Taylor, Liza Minelli, Truman Capote, Diana Ross and Halston, to name a few.  Three of them are on my team, but as volunteers, not as Riders (Liz, Liza and Tru).  I laughed so hard, I was nearly crying when I saw them all.  Halston is a local news columnist and was in rare form.  He even had some old Halston cologne he was spritzing the riders with as we came through the "Club!"  I got a little carried away socializing here and found it hard to tear away to continue the Ride!  It was definitely over the top!

The next leg was a 10.

Andy Warhol and Halston at Studio 54, Pit One
5 mile ride out to Pit Stop 2.  This leg was a bit more challenging in that there were more hills, but it was still a breeze.  I made friends with a couple of women riding for Austin Regional Clinic's team.  They were excellent riders and fun to talk -- certainly made that part of the ride seem to go very fast.  I also got to ride with team mates Amy and Richard along this leg.  They were not going to do the Olympic Extension, so was glad I got to ride with them for a bit today.

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.

Gladiators on the Ride
  Robert recruited a new rider to the team at this pit stop for next year!  It was someone he knew -- but did not know was riding this year.  Go Robert!

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.

Pit Two: Old West Saloon
  In fact, today's ride became the longest ride Scott had ever done!

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.

Part of Team Full on at Pit 2
  After rejoining the main route, it was only another 1.4 miles to the lunch pit.

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.

Helping Richard Simmons with his high kick at Olympic Extension Pit
  I only got about 2 miles down the road, and it was flat again.  Needless to say, I got some grief from my friends for not just biting the bullet earlier and changing it, but Everett was a good guy and helped me out so it did not take too long.

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.

Looks are decieving -- Ski Hill is actually a lot steeper than it looks from here!
  The pictures of the hill do not do it justice.  many riders had to stop at some point and walk their bikes over the top.  Scott and I made it all the way without jumping off -- we were please, particularly so since we had some good friends doing volunteer work here and cheering us up the hill.  It would have been embarrassing to walk here!  At the top of Ski Hill was the last Pit Stop of the day, Mt. Everest.  In addition to getting water here, you could also get a popsicle!  I got a grape one and it tasted sooooo gooooood!  I had definitely worked up a sweat here.

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.

David, the Ride Director, gives me my finisher's medal
  I was hot and dry and water was not doing a lot to quench my thirst.  There were some thought provoking signs here -- the first said "Entering the Zone of Silence" followed by "Remember those who are no longer with us."  I could hot help but think of my team mates Richard and Mark, both of whom had lost brothers to AIDS.  And I thought of my friends Brad and Luis in particular who are no longer with us.  I felt their presence as I continued pedaling along.  I spoke with Richard later about this stage of the Ride -- and he told me that he was so emotional at that point that he could not talk.  It is a very powerful feeling to go through this part of the Ride. 

Coming around the last bend before the end, I was pleased to be riding with 3 other team mates: Everett, Mark and Scott.

The last Rider in!
  We all finished together -- and were welcomed back by other team mates who were already there -- Kathy, Scottie, Matthew, Dale and Arthur (aka, Liza Minelli).  My friend Rich, the weather man for Channel 8, was also there to welcome us in at the end!  It is such a great feeling to get a big welcome home from good friends!  I got my finisher's medal from David, the Ride Director, and then sat down and drank about 4 glasses of cold water -- what a great drink!

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.

Some of the Team Full On Finishers at the end of the Ride

TYoungTX says:
Big thanks for the Big Cheers Nic!
Posted on: May 12, 2008
Ape says:
Simply amazing! Big cheers for you, your team and all the other riders!
Posted on: May 12, 2008
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Pre Ride Gathering of my Team
Pre Ride Gathering of my Team
Team Full On, Full On prior to Ride
Team Full On, Full On prior to Ride
Gladiators join the Starting Line
Gladiators join the Starting Line
Here I am at the Starting Line
Here I am at the Starting Line
Along the Ride
Along the Ride
Pit One, Studio 54
Pit One, Studio 54
Liza Minelli, Tim and Truman Capot…
Liza Minelli, Tim and Truman Capo…
The Naughty Nurse is recommending …
The Naughty Nurse is recommending…
Andy Warhol and Halston at Studio …
Andy Warhol and Halston at Studio…
Gladiators on the Ride
Gladiators on the Ride
Pit Two:  Old West Saloon
Pit Two: Old West Saloon
Part of Team Full on at Pit 2
Part of Team Full on at Pit 2
Helping Richard Simmons with his h…
Helping Richard Simmons with his …
Looks are decieving -- Ski Hill is…
Looks are decieving -- Ski Hill i…
David, the Ride Director, gives me…
David, the Ride Director, gives m…
The last Rider in!
The last Rider in!
Some of the Team Full On Finishers…
Some of the Team Full On Finisher…
Richard and Amy, pre-ride
Richard and Amy, pre-ride
Staring Line
Staring Line
Pedernales River along the Ride
Pedernales River along the Ride
Liz, Liza and me at Pit One, Studi…
Liz, Liza and me at Pit One, Stud…
Miss Ross at Studio 54
Miss Ross at Studio 54
Liza, the Naughty Nurse, Scott and…
Liza, the Naughty Nurse, Scott an…
Elton John at Studio 54
Elton John at Studio 54
Miss Ross and a Fan
Miss Ross and a Fan
Scott surrounded by Beauty at Pit …
Scott surrounded by Beauty at Pit…
Gladiators at Pit One
Gladiators at Pit One
Scenery along the Ride
Scenery along the Ride
Phil, part of Sag and Sweep Crew
Phil, part of Sag and Sweep Crew
Feeding Steven some grapes at Pit 2
Feeding Steven some grapes at Pit 2
Pedalling along toward the Olympic…
Pedalling along toward the Olympi…
Mike at Tavern on the Green (Lunch…
Mike at Tavern on the Green (Lunc…
Top of Ski Hill and Popsicle Boy
Top of Ski Hill and Popsicle Boy
Mt. Everest Pit Stop
Mt. Everest Pit Stop
Reno 911 Sag and Sweep
Reno 911 Sag and Sweep
Reno 911 Sag and Sweep Crew (nice …
Reno 911 Sag and Sweep Crew (nice…
The Zone of Silence
The Zone of Silence
Spicewood
photo by: misssean