Thursday, March 17, 2011

Texas Hill Country 600k

We started out for the Texas Hill Country 600K on Thursday afternoon by driving to Shreveport. I drove my minivan because I was heading to Hell Week after the race. Trish and Ralph drove the Race RV and Katelyn drove her car because she needed to return ro Natchitoches after the race. I got down to Shreveport about 5 and put in some speed work on the river trail then met my crew at the Horseshoe Casino.

Trish was just checking us in when I got there, so we headed to the room to unpack and then to the buffet for some dinner. After dinner I gave my crew each $100 to go play with, so Big Ralph and Trisha headed off to the casino while Katy and I headed up to the room to catch some AI results for Trish.

After about an hour I went back down to the casino and found Trish. She had made over $200 on video poker so I made her buy me a drink at the Crossroads bar. The band was loud and just ok - so I went back to the room and she headed back to the casino. Ralph got up to the room not much after me and he had also been very successful and pocketed over $1000.

We were up early Friday morning, and after a quick stop at I-Hop down the road we were off. I drove with Trish in the minivan and Ralph and Katy were in the Race RV. After about 3 hours we switched vehicles and drivers. This time Katy is driving the lead vehicle and we come to a point where we turn west and Katy doesn't make the turn. I call and talk to Ralph and he said the GPS in the van says go straight. I told them ok, keep following the GPS. But I was a little worried. I have Internet in the RV so I got on Google maps and could not figure out why their GPS was taking them to College Station, so I called back and asked them where the next turn was. They said the GPS didn't have a next turn. Rut-Roh - the GPS was just on map viewer and not headed anywhere. They were now 30 minutes down the road in the wrong direction.

Plan B - Instead of all of us heading to the hotel - Trisha and I diverted to the race course and drove the last 35 miles from Kendalia back to the Tri-shop (race start/finish) while Ralph and Katy navigated to the hotel.

We finally got back together around 4 and headed to an early dinner at the Outback Steak house, wjere I ate one of my standard prerace meals: Rack of Lamb with Garlic mashed potatos, loads of bread and topped it off with an excellent dessert. Then over to the Tri Shop for the pre race briefing. We got our race numbers and some instruction and then back to hotel we went.

Rise and Shine at 4:30, at least for Ralph and I in the Guys Room. A nice yoga session, breakfast, bike loading, 2nd breakfast and we were on the road to the start by 6:10.

I finally get to the race after a page of previews - what type of write up is this? I'm guessing it is my type of write up, because the race is about the before and after as well as the during. Now for the Race details.

We started out with a neutral roll out at 7:00 - George led us out and onto the main hwy to head out of Helotes. Once on the main highway I went to the front of the group to sort of move the nuetral roll along at a faster pace to keep warm. Bryan M on the B-Bike rolled up and we chatted until the go Line.

Someone always needs to be the race rabbit and I like the job so I got the race started out right, by taking off up the first slight incline and into the rollers. I was doing a good job of pushing the pace for the first 5 miles or so until we caught a steeper grade. This is when Chris, Marko, and Bryce all rode by me. Once we top the hill - we had a nice downhill section and I rode back to the front of the pack. This went on for a couple of more hilly sections, but finally Chris and Marko established a good lead and with the aid of stoplights were able to clear Bryce and I. There was a third rider that was with us for a couple of miles on a tri bike with aero helment, but I didn't know him and didn't see him after the first 20.

As we were leaving Banderas I got caught at a light and Bryce timed it right and rode thru as it turned green. So I played follow-the-Bryce for the next 50 miles or so all the way thru Vanderpool and most of the way to Leaky. I caught him on a climb into town and that was the last time I saw Bryce during the Race. After Leaky we still had some big climbs to Camp Wood then we turned north with the tailwind toward Rock Springs.

In Rock Springs my crew told me I was only 5 minutes behind Chris, which I thought was amazing because I had figured he and Marko were up the road a good ways. With the tailwind behind me - I started my serious chase to catch Chris and hopefully Marko. It took me all the way to Junction to catch Chris and it didn't last for long. I had a planned 2 minute stop at hour 9 which ended up being a few miles past Junction.

My crew did their stuff while I did mine and I was back on the bike and chasing again. This time it only took me 15 minutes to catch back up and this time I rode with Chris for a minute as passing him to see if he knew how far ahead Marko was. He said about 15 minutes so I set off to chase Marko and Chris decided to use me as a pace dog.

After the race Chris said he would watch me ride away on the downhill and flats then catch me back on the climb on the other side of the valleys. Typical - picking on the big guy that can't climb.

This kept on until Mason when we actually saw Marko's Crew who had waited for us so they could let Marko know how close we were. I think that was the closest we had gotten to Marko - we were 11 hours into the race averaging 21 miles per hour with over 10,000 climb done and we were still about 12 minutes back.

We pushed on to Llano with Chris following close behind. I didn't know how close he was until I stopped at 6:45 for lights and I came out of the van and he and his support crew were doing the exact same thing 50 feet behind me. Time to get a move on. We powered into Llano and made the turn South and into a very stiff head wind.

This is when Chris decided to say goodbye. He passed me and we never saw anything but taillights on the climb uphill and into the wind to Fredricksburg. I made an unscheduled stop because it felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. That's when Katy piped up - don't worry Dad - it's not you - it's just uphill all the way to Fredericksburg. Ok, that was great news. I'm back on the bike and grinding to Fred.

Once we popped up on 87 the wind was more of a quatering headwind and I think most of the climb was over so we made our 15 hours stop (we had planned stops every 3 hours). The next part of the ride was fairly uneventful with the ride down to Sisterdale not being too bad. Then we hit my own personal "I don't like this" moment. From Sisterdale to Kendalia is big roller country - you are either going up a hill or down a hill and not little hills and they just keep coming at you. I had to just stop about half way thru and take a 2 minute time out to drink some pedialyte. It think is was probably near my 18 break anyway.

After Kendalia we got on a back country road that I liked and had predriven. As we were riding toward San Antonio you could see a red orange glow in the distance. I was thinking city lights but as we got close we found a grass/forest fire on the course. The firemen were cool and waved us thru, but it was a quite a sight at 2 in the morning or somewhere around there. Sort of lost track of time.

The major problem at Kendalia was that we turned south again into the wind. You get kinda disheartened when your crusing speed has dropped from 20+ to 15-18 to 12-15. About 20 miles from the finish there is a school with a big wide shoulder and I decided to just stop. This is when my wife got out and played crew chief all over my ass. It went something like this.

Trish - What do you need?
Me - Just to Rest.
Trish - You can't stop to just rest. If don't need something you have to keep going.
Me - Ok give me an iced coffe.
Trish - 10 seconds later - Here's the coffee.
Me - Two Chugs later - handed Trish the coffee and down the road I went to the finish.

Finish Time was 20:25 and 3rd place. A race handicapper who shall go unnamed told me I'd do 22 and finish in 4th. I knew that he was predicting both Marko and Chris would beat me but he didn't tell me if he thought Bryce or Thomas would be 3rd.

This is not the end of the story. We return to the hotel and crash. Somewhere in the next 1-2 hours some dumb ass sets the fire alarm off in the hotel. I can attest to the fact that the fire alarm is loud and obnoxious.

That's the end of this tale. Stay tuned for Texas Hell Week.

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