Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm a Pepper!

Start line at Dublin Dr Pepper Ride
So, I told you the other day that I'm hanging out with all these active fitness types... ATHLETES and stuff. They're a tough crowd. Somehow they make all these adventure things sound perfectly normal and acceptable and, oh, I don't know... achievable.  Even for me. And the thing is... for the most part, they're right (they're also a pretty smart group of peeps).

So Saturday morning dawned bright and early, and TPG and I set off to Dublin, Texas to get this thing underway. TPG had a night in Fort Worth Friday night so she bunked with me (and my nosey cat) so we could leave together for our rendezvous with Team K for the 90-ish minute drive. I am so grateful that she so graciuosly offered to ride with me on this first-time rally. I'm not sure that I would have actually done this ride if she hadn't. I would have thought about it, considered it, gone back and forth about it, and then probably ended up letting it come and go without actually ever signing up.  Instead, here I was, with Reveille hooked up on the back of TPG's car next to hers, and me in a bright yellow jersey looking like a yellowjacket, actually doing this thing.

After a very scenic drive through Granbury and Stephenville and all these county names we only recognized through weather alerts on the news, we arrived at Dublin High School and easily parked the car for packet pickup, with about 45 minutes to spare before the start of the ride.  That gave us plenty of time to hit the indoor potties, inflate our tires, get sunscreened up, and get final checks on all the bikes. Then it was time to roll up to the front of the school for the national anthem and the start by airhorn.

My riding partners. LOVE! 
Team K! Always have a ridiculous time with these two! 
 It was a staggered start, with the 62 mile riders leaving a few minutes before we did, followed by the 9-milers. That helped alleviate some of the crowding, which set my mind at ease significantly.  I had two separate people tell me that I really needed to watch out for the other cyclists, as someone who didn't know what they were doing might end up taking me out (never mind that the "someone who didn't know what they were doing" might just be me...).  But with the staggered start, it wasn't terribly crowded and we soon enough got rolling and spread out as we headed down the driveway and out of the front entrance of the school.  Ready or not, here we go!!

I honestly don't remember much about this segment, except that we were actually passing quite a few people.  Mr K took off like he was on fire, with TPG following behind him and then MK and I came up after, as we were trying to get comfortable and get in a good groove.  I was tentative at first, as there were just so many cyclists out on the road. It was pretty impressive to look up relatively flat Hwy 6 in front of us and see cyclists spread out as far as you can see.  Definitely fun, but also crazy unsettling, especially for me. I would have taken a pic, but there was no way I was reaching back into my pocket for my phone while I was riding. Nope, not me.  So you'll have to trust me that it was cool.

Dr Pepper, y'all! 
Before we knew it, we were at the first aid station. Already? SWEET!  And yes, literally sweet, as they were pouring out high-octane Dr Pepper for the riders, as well as handing out cookies, fruit and other snacks.  We took our time to refill bottles (except mine were full because I didn't dare try to reach down and grab mine for a drink because I was either shifting madly trying to make it up a hill or holding on for dear life as I careened down a hill) and then when we were ready, we hit the road again. 

Could they be any cuter?! 
The second segment went pretty much the same way, except by this time, Mr K had figured out the whole "multiple gears" thing and wasn't just pedaling like a madman, he was pedaling with a purpose. MK and TPG were way stronger than me on the uphills (here's me, acting surprised), but with this little thing I call "gravity assist," I was able to pass them on the downhill segments.  At one point, as I went by them, I yelled that I knew they'd catch me on the uphills so I was just going to get what I could at that time and didn't mean to be rude by passing them up. There was a particularly wicked climb in this section that gave me a tough time, as I ran out of gears before I got to the top, but I did make it without having to get off the bike and walk, so I am counting that as a huge victory.  Also noteworthy on this segment was the lady who remarked to me that I looked strong as I passed her on an uphill. She asked if this was my first time doing this ride and I told her it was my first ride ever. She said she's been riding hills for a while and yet I looked pretty good as I passed her. THAT made my day! Pretty quickly after that we reached the second aid station and after more Dr Pepper and more watermelon, we regrouped and decided to ride the rest of the way together. 

KOOS! Somehow, Mr K & I missed the donkeys. Sad koala. 
We also decreed that when we saw cows or donkeys that we would have to call a screeching halt to the ride for pictures. We were surprised that we hadn't seen any thus far.  Although to be honest, it took me long enough to get comfortable again and I could have ridden by Martians and wouldn't have noticed.  But, we did find some cows and had to stop and take picture of them. Even if they were uncooperative and wouldn't come closer. Stupid cows. This part was uneventful, and the hills on this segment were not terribly remarkable - lots of long slow rollers. By then I'd gotten into a really nice groove and was in that zone where I felt like I could have ridden all night. The Texas countryside was so scenic, and I was having so much fun with my friends. It was a gorgeous sunny day, hot but not unbearable, and I really was having an amazing time. 

By the time we hit the third aid station, I was almost sad to know that in just a few minutes we would be done, and while I was excited about the accomplishment, I didn't want it to end. On this part, we all took off at the same time, with Mr K and I in the lead. By this time, we were both comfortable on the gears, and this segment was a nice comfortable stretch of nothing too complicated.  We chatted as we rode, talking about how great our friends are, and how lucky we have been to fall in with such a good crew of active adventurous people. Basically, we were just having a time. As we neared the little town, we saw the signs pointing us to the finish, and we started celebrating having completed our first rally. But first, we had to cross a small patch, about two or three blocks' worth, of cobblestones. Aaaaaah - definitely a "lift up off your seat" occasion for us!! As we crossed, spotters read our numbers off our backs and announced us to the crowd. YAY! We finished!! And we didn't crash or fall or anything. Just rode and stepped outside that comfort zone and ended up having a great time doing it! 

All smiles at the finish. Before we realized we'd dropped our friends... (Hey, HE dropped his wife!!)
So we cross, and we go over and grab yet another can of ice cold Dr Pepper, and turn around and realize that TPG and MK should be right behind us. But they weren't. Um.... ruh-roh.  What happened? Cell service had been spotty since we got near Dublin and we had been unable to update our friends reliably on the route, so it was not surprising that we had missed text messages from them telling us they had tire issues. But they didn't say who had the issue, or where, or what. Oh noes!! (never mind the guilt that we never even though to look behind us and notice that they weren't there - BAD BICYCLE BUDDIES!!).  We were confident they could handle it and would be along shortly, so we found a place in the shade to hang out and wait. After a while, we started to get nervous and were about to hop back on the bikes and backtrack to find them, but just as we made that decision, here comes MK, smiling and happy. But what about TPG?  After MK got her obligatory Dr Pepper, she filled us in on the mishaps with TPG's tire, including a lost tool, a spring gone missing, the most elderly sag wagon driver ever and a 'sploded tube. WTF, Patel?! Sadly, she was forced to ride the sag wagon back to the start, where she was waiting for us.  So frustrating! And after all she had done to build up our confidence and make sure that the three of us had an amazing debut ride.  

Thank you, Dublin!! LOVED IT!  
How about that? I finished. 34 miles. We didn't worry too much about time, and we lingered at the rest stops without concern for how long we'd been there (an ultra no-no), but for this day, that was just fine. It was the longest ride for the three of us, by ten miles for me, by more than that for Team K. This ride was about learning to shift (concept), gaining confidence on the bike, reaching beyond the comfort zone, and oh, yeah, HAVING FUN.  Check, check, check and CHECK.

Turns out those people I hang out with, who all said, "You can do it!"? Turns out they were right. We had a great inaugural ride, and I can promise you, it won't be the last one!!

1 comment:

That Pink Girl said...

OF COURSE we were right! A. We are super smart and 2. YOU ARE STRONG!

I'm so proud of you and SO glad you had a such a good time! You're a much stronger cyclist than you give yourself credit for. Time and miles will build your confidence. Promise. Next thing, we just need to get you clipped in and you'll be tearing up those hills with all that extra power.
Congratulations on completing your first rally! (and THANK YOU for letting me stay with you and your friendly kitty!)