Pedal to the Medal cycling event

Today was my first official ride here in the Rio Grande Valley. I used to partake in cycling charity ride all the time when I lived in the Dallas area, but since I moved back home in 1999, I haven’t. The main reason, there haven’t been any events to go attend. The cycling culture was not very big in the Valley. A lot has changed since then. More and more cyclists are gathering in club rides, bicycle store rides, and now charity rides. I really like the charity rides as you get to travel from town to town riding in new areas, meeting new people and to top it off, you give to a good cause.

This ride is the Pedal to the Medal in Honor of Jessica Flores and benefiting La Feria High School Seniors with scholarships, community organizations and the American Cancer Society.

I had bought some new pedals and shoes for the event but decided to use the pedals and stick with my old sneakers. The old belief of not trying anything new on event day still holds. Stick with what works and don’t monkey around with new stuff.

On Friday, I wanted to carb load, but I strung it out through out the day. At lunch, I had a small dish of pasta and chicken and then at supper, I had pasta and meatballs. This worked out well as I didn’t get stuffed with pasta in one sitting. Later that night, I packed the car with the bike and other cycling gear and planned to get to bed early to wake up at 5 am.

When I arrived at La Feria and found the high school I realized I didn’t have my wallet with me! Was that an omen of things to come? Apparently not as the ride was great. The event has a staggered start time with the 60 mile cyclists going first then the 40 mile route followed by the 20 mile route and finally the 10 mile route. I signed up for the 40 mile ride so my group went second. I didn’t know anyone one there at the ride, but that was OK. I chatted up with a guy before the ride that was also doing the 40 mile ride, but I could tell that he rides a lot faster than I. Quite a few riders showed up, so there was a good chance I would find a group of riders that will ride at the pace I wanted to go at.

I ended up in the back of the pack of riders and after about ten minutes I already found a group that is going at the same pace I wanted to ride at. At about that time, the pack had stretched out into smaller groups of cyclist and was no longer a large unit. The ride itself took you out to the country side with orchids, farm land green with growing crops and barking dogs. Country life is not the same without barking dogs.

The ride itself was pleasant as the wind was light and the sky over cast. Some early portions of route had rough roads. So rough that I had to take off the battery pack, for the head light, as it was vibrating and making a lot of noise. Thank goodness for cargo shorts to stash the battery. The pace was going good and my water was holding out.

At the beginning of the ride I was primarily to myself as I rode in the back of the group of cyclists that I wanted to stay with. Occasionally they would get some distance between me but, I would just change gears and catch up. It wasn’t until after the first rest stop that I started to interact with some of the riders.

The first cyclist that I started to chat with was Maria. She is a lively, talkative person full of energy. As it turned out, she is the sister of Jessica Flores, the person that event is in honor of. It was an honor to ride along side of her during the event. It was clear that she put in a lot of work into this charity event and did volunteer work at other cycling events prior to this one.

She pointed out her husband, Murphy, in the group ahead of us. As the group dynamics changed, I ended up riding along side with him. Murphy was riding a Raleigh with upright handlebars that looked like a nice comfortable ride. He had mentioned that they had ridden the route about a week earlier and every spot where a dog chased them, they made a point to visit the household and bring awareness to the upcoming cycling event. What a good idea because not one dog chased us down the street.

We had some concern over Maria’s riding as she had some trouble controlling her bike. She had a few close calls with running into other cyclists. Maria had a small spill at a railroad crossing and a street corner, but she jumped right back up, got on the bike and kept on riding. What a trooper she is.

At the second rest stop, I topped off my CamelBack and had a few orange slices to keep me fueled up. I was feeling pretty good with no signs of low sugar levels. That is always a concern for me as I am a Type 2 Diabetic. The only thing missing was a port-a-potty. I over heard one of the volunteers that they didn’t come in. I later found out, through correspondence with Dalia Martinez, that the company hired to deliver them failed to meet their obligations. What can one do about it at that time? Just keep on trucking down the road.

By that time I was chatting and riding with Rosie Garcia. She was mentioning how she had wiped out on last weeks event that she was in. Apparently, her brakes locked up and she flipped over the bike. No serious injury but scraps and bruises. At that point, Maria had a more serious wipe out. We were lucky that the last rest stop is a short distance back and that the sag wagon got there quickly. Maria wanted to keep on riding, but we insisted on her getting checked out at the hospital. Reluctantly, she agreed to go and get checked out as she had some serious palm scrapes because of no gloves. We loaded hers and hubby’s bikes into the back of the truck and waved goodbye.

From this point onwards the group splintered and everyone went at their own speeds. I saw Rosie struggling with the wind so I stayed behind to ride with her. Soon the wind was on our backs and we took off at a faster pace chattering along the away. On a turn to head to the third rest stop, Rosie’s bike got a flat on her rear wheel. I asked if she carries a spare, but she didn’t. When asked what she carried in the small saddle bag under her seat, she says “Snacks”. LOL, what a trip she is. Rosie is so much fun to ride with. She went ahead and rode her bike with the flat at a good speed. As long as she did not hit any pot holes, the rim will be ok. At the following rest stop we were lucky to have the owner of Bicycle World, Henry Roberts, there fixing flats. So, while he was attending the flat we took the opportunity to go to the rest rooms at the Cardenas Motors dealership. What a relief that was.

Rosie certainly likes to take pictures. There must have been at least four pictures of her and her bike being fixed. She is so much fun. After the bike is ready to go, we hustled on down the road to try to catch up to another set of riders that past us up at the rest stop. We had no intention of being dead last in this route. We had caught up with them just outside Harlingen, on the way back to La Feria, and hammered pasted them into the wind. What a great riding partner Rosie is. She pushed me harder and longer. I couldn’t be happier.

The last rest stop was a surprise as we were not expecting one. This one was the best one of all as it had a ton of energetic kids that seemed excited to see any cyclists that arrived. Upon arrival the kids greeted us with cheers, food and a squirt gun filled with cold water! Of course, Rosie had to get another picture with all of them. What an energy boost to kick you back to La Feria.

After the ride, there were hamburgers and hot dogs to eat as well as watermelon. Good food, good company and great conversation. You could not ask for a better way to end the ride.

As a last note, I hope Maria is ok and not upset that she didn’t get to finish the ride. You did your best and that is all that anyone could ever ask for. Hope to ride it again next year.

The bike computer App that I used for this ride is Cyclemeter. This App worked flawlessly and recorded the entire 3.5 hr ride with plenty of battery life afterwards. The new pedals that I installed and worked without a hitch are the Shimano PD-A530 SPD Dual Platform pedals.

To show that the ride is for all ages and not just for adults here is a picture of the two youngest cyclists that rode the 10 mile loop. Way to go guys! We need to encourage the youngest family members to go cycling and teach them rules of the road and cycling safety. Take your kids out cycling with you and really make it a family event.

Feel free to post your comments about the blog or ride on here.

Henry Robert, Young Cyclist and Rosie pictures courtesy of Hidalgo Metro and the Pedal to the Medal organizations.

Getting Ready

I’m getting ready to do my first cycling event since I’ve been back in the Valley. I signed up for the Pedal to the Medal event in La Feria this Saturday and I’m hoping to finish the 40 mile course. I installed some new platform pedals (dual sided, platform on one side and SPD clips on the other) along with new cycling shoes instead of my sneakers.

Today, I’ll do a small ride to test the new gear but I’ll stick with the platform side of the pedal as I do not have time to dial in the adjustments for the shoes.

I plan to blog on the event tomorrow and let everyone know how it went.