Friends

It’s been a rough two weeks with friends. I got two friends that no longer talk to me, friends that are quitting work and moving away to start a new life, friends suffering from afar, friends that need a new webpage and friends adjusting to a new far away country. I am grateful for having them in my life, even for a short period of time and I certainly do not take them for granted. My emotions are in conflict between happiness and sadness as I struggle to sort it out. In a few days I will be back to normal, as normal can be. Friends, you have to love them else they are not friends.

Pedal Against Child Abuse 2011

Saturday morning was the Pedal Against Child Abuse ride that I elected to take part in. The event was held in McAllen, Texas, sponsored by the McAllen Police Cycling Team benefiting the Angels of Love Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to help victims of child abuse and/or neglect. Take a look at their website and see what you can do to help them.

I do my usual Friday preparation for the event as described in my posting, Four Tips on Attending a Cycling Event. Despite my preparations, Murphy’s law kicks in. In this case, I could not find my wallet.  Come to think about it, this is the second time I went to a cycling event without my wallet. I wonder if that means something or not.

Instead of parking at the Municipal Park, I parked at Bicycle World and rode the few blocks to the start. It was a beautiful cool morning just prime for riding. I had signed up for the 40 mile ride and I was looking for others that did the same. I did see several friends of mine but they were riding in a faster pace than what I normally do. Plus they were doing the 60 mile route so that meant no riding with them. I was hoping to find a pack of riders to follow but that went to the wind as the ride started. I was expecting some sort of staging process, 60 mile riders go first then the 40 followed by the 25 mile riders. That didn’t happen. Both the 60 and 40 mile riders went together and by the time I realized it they were already 200 yards ahead of me. I tried hard to catch up but could not.

Granjeno

I did pass up my friend Rosie and in retrospect, I should have slowed down and pace with her, but I was making such good time. A rookie mistake, I must admit. Around the ten-mile mark I slowed down to my normal pace to conserve energy but it was also the time I started to notice a bounce on my ride. That meant only one thing, my tire was losing air. I pulled over to check the tire pressure and sure enough by rear tire was low. I was near the 1st rest stop, so I decided to ride over there and have the sag wagon fix it for me. Waiting to make my turn to the Granjeno loop, Rosie catches up to me and passes me up. I hate this part of the route because the road is so bone jarring rough! That didn’t help with my tire issue either as it just forced all the air out. I had to walk the last half mile to the rest top only to see Rosie get back on her bike and take off. Great, now my ride is a solo ride.

At this point I was really contemplating if I should just call it quits or push on. After a few minutes chatting with the people at the rest stop the sag wagon showed up and Mando, from Bicycle World, got me back on the road quickly. I decided to push on and complete the ride, after all it’s not like I haven’t done a 40 mile solo ride before.

Mission

Leaving the Granjeno loop was a relief on my bike and body. I don’t see how anyone can stand riding on that. There were still a lot of riders zipping around the area as this was also part of the 25 mile route. I was glad but my mind was on how to get through Mission and especially the 1st set of railroad tracks. I passed the Mission Hike and Bike Trail area and saw that it was packed with people enjoying the trails. I stop briefly to take the battery pack off the back and into my camel back as it was rattling too much. As I approach the Expressway 83 and Conway, I’m a little apprehensive about that railroad track as it requires for me to swing left then right so I can hit the tracks at a safe angle but I notice that there is a commotion over there. As I get close I see that the SAG wagon was blocking one lane and traffic funneled to the left lane. When I get there I see why, another cyclist was on the ground with a friend there by her side. It looks like her tire slipped into the track and flipped her over. She was in obvious pain but luckily there is a fire substation only one block away and sure enough they came out to aid her. I hope she is ok!

I push through downtown and the many signal lights that stack up traffic. Soon, I was only two blocks from home. Maybe I should have stopped for something to drink but I was making good time and I was still hoping to catch up with Rosie but she was not in sight. By this time there were no other cyclists in site and I settled in for a pace to take me to the next rest stop.

Alton

The sun was starting to beat down on me and I was getting tired. I passed up the 4 mile line expecting a lot of traffic from the flea market that is usually there, but surprisingly it was sparse. Maybe it was over due to the heat. Wind was not an issue but the heat was. Stay hydrated and keep an eye out for symptoms of heat stroke were thoughts that was running through my head.

When I get to the corner of 107 North and 107 East, I’m looking for that rest stop. I spot it to the right and pull in for the shade and some small talk. A banana, some Honey Stinger Chews and a bottle of Gatorade and I’m off back on the road.  A quick stop at the ExxonMobile gas station to adjust the saddle forward and I’m riding again but now I’m getting real tired.

10 St

Upon reaching 10 st I know I’m on the last stretch back home. At this point, I’m really struggling as I’m running out of juice and the sun is really starting to get to me. I’m more acute to the dangers of sun exposure. My plan, make it to Bill Schuner park and get in the shade to rest for a spell. I’m drinking more to stay hydrated. A group of cyclist zip past me and I’m thinking, I didn’t prepare enough for this ride. I do make it to the park and rest for at least 10 minutes. from there it was just a short hop back to Bicycle World.

It wasn’t exactly 40 miles, more in the range of 35, but I’m not complaining. It was a rough ride for me. A flat, Granjeno rough roads, heat and just not conditioned enough to do the ride, but I made it anyways!

My thoughts on the Event itself.

  1. The staging could have been better. It would have helped tremendously if they used a bullhorn or some sort of PA system for the riders in the back to hear.
  2. Stage the event as planned. Let the long distance riders go first then the 40 mile riders followed by the 25 mile riders as planned.
  3. More rest stops. I know many of the club riders don’t stop, but for us regular riders it would have been nice to have at least one more rest stop.
  4. Ice cold orange slices would have been great too at the rest stops and other cold energy fruit.
  5. The route was simple enough to follow. Very few signs were needed for this event and the ones they had were easy to follow.
  6. They served food after the event. Even though I didn’t attend it, as I was exhausted, serving food is always a good idea.
  7. The majority of the participants were club riders. Very few independent riders.
  8. Recumbent cyclist past me up!

Overall, this was a good event for a good cause. Everyone had a good time with a few flats, only one accident, that I’m aware of, and yes, I did find my wallet at home. I am glad that there is an event locally and hopes that it continues to grow. It’s fantastic to see a great turnout for this event as it shows that the cycling community is increasing in the valley. Participation at events keep getting larger with cyclists coming from out-of-town. I know of at least two people who came from the Harlingen area and there may have been more. I certainly hope that the Cities see the advantages of hosting these outdoor events and plan their roads expansion more bike friendly.

My Stats:

Ride Time: 2:39:23
Distance : 35.45 miles
Avg Speed: 13.34 mph