Wildflower Centurion

Bluebonnets along the route

Bluebonnets along the route

Back in late April I traveled over to San Antonio for the Fiesta Wildflower Ride. I knew the route was hilly and coming from the flat lands of the Rio Grande Valley, I didn’t know if I could complete that ride or not. I was already completing a training plan for a century ride but felt it wasn’t enough. I went back to Training Peaks and found a plan for a hilly century by Allen Hunter and decided to follow that. My plan was to ride the sixty and see how I felt and decide if I could ride on and attempt the one hundred miles.

The new training plan that I was following was a lot more intense with more VO2max intervals than my previous plan. I headed out to the only hills we have around here, west of La Joya, and did some of my rides over there. Our hills are more like rolling hills but that’s all we have. I also used a steep overpass as a training segment and found that tough but fun. During the week my rides ranged from 2 hours to 2.5 hours. Nothing more than that. On the weekends they were about 3.5 hrs. I was putting in no more than 45 miles in any one ride with most of it in the Endurance zone but it did include a lot more Tempo and VO2max zones than my previous training plan.

I felt good about the results I was getting with my weeks of training but I was noticing that some other cyclists that were also going to the Wildflower ride, to do the one hundred miles, were putting in 60-80 miles on their long rides. It got me thinking, am I putting in enough miles and saddle time? I felt strong after my rides and my energy levels were good too. The only way to find out is to ride it. Until then, I would have to wait and see.

On the day of the ride it was a nice overcast morning with over 2k cyclists ready to ride. From my perspective, it looked like a lot more than 2k but who knows, I didn’t stick around to count them. I was anxious to see how my training paired up with the route. Will I have the juice to do the metric century? Would I have enough in the tank to push on wards to do the imperial century? I wanted to know! The only way to find out is to ride and stay in my Endurance zone and take my electrolytes every hour. Pacing was the key and not to start off real strong only to burn out later on.

At the sound of the canon fire we started in stages. Imperial Century first, then the metric, then the rest of the different distances. The ride was tough getting out to the first rest stop at the fifteen mile mark. It was there that I caught up with some friends that was doing the 100. I decided to ride with them as they seemed to be going at my pace (something I was careful to watch). The scenery was fantastic heading out to New Braunfels through the hill country. I really was taking advantage of all the gears on the bike. At times I wished I had a few more gears but you work with what you have. Granny gear going up and coasting going down, that was my strategy. I knew that coasting down was a great way to conserve your energy for the long haul.

Flying down Krueger Canyon road was a thrill hitting 38 mph! Fastest I’ve been, that’s for sure. Others hit 40+ mph and as far as I know of, no one wiped out. It was well worth the time and energy climbing the hills. At the bottom was another rest stop where you can fill up on ice-cold water and other. Each rest stop had exactly the same thing except further on out the rest stations added pickles. A favorite among cyclists. I tend to shy away from it cause it can cause mild cramping for me.

At the forty-seven mile rest stop I had to decide what I was going to do, the 60 mile or the 100 mile route. At this point I was in good shape. I was not tired, achy or spent. Looking at the map we still had to be at a checkpoint by 1 pm to be allowed to continue the 100 mile route. We had a little less than an hour to ride out about nine miles. Looking at each other, I told my friends that I’m game for the 100 so we hopped on the bikes and pressed on. We passed one other cyclist and eventually shared a PNB Sandwich with him. This section of the route is the flat part and the scenery changed to farm lands. I liked this area as well. It was more I was used to here in the Valley.

At this point it was clear that we were the last ones doing the 100 mile ride and that caught up to us at the 80 mile rest stop. At this point we were informed that they were closing the course and they offered to bump us to the last rest stop. We weren’t too keen on that idea and instead opted to continue on our own. We handed over our bib numbers and loaded up on ice-cold water and pushed on.

We pushed harder and faster but had to stop for one team member to catch his breath and rest a bit. By this time my knees and ankles were starting to get sore but I could still pedal. At that point, that’s all that mattered. Keep pedaling and finish.

At the 95-mile mark one of our team mates called it quits. His legs were spent and his wife was nearby to pick him up. As far as I’m concerned, he finished the ride. That left two of use plus one last cyclist that was about ten to fifteen minutes behind us. I used my phone to plot a course back to the finish and we took off, this time with a SAG.

Rolling into the parking lot at the Mall and seeing a few people there cheering us on was totally awesome! Thank you team Wingman for sticking around until the last rider rolled in. They even had pizza waiting for us too! Yay!! Woo wee, what a fun adventure that was! I absolutely loved the ride and will do this ride again in the future.

I do want to thank Tony and Veronica to encourage me to go for the 100. They twisted my arm 🙂

My Top Two Cycling Goals for 2015

It’s January 2015 and the start of a new year. Like everyone else, I too am reflecting on what I resolve to do for the year. There is the usual lose weight and get fitter but there is something more that I would like to do. Cycle a 100 miles (century ride) and see more of the valley on a bike are the top two cycling goals I would like to do for the year 2015.

I’ve always wanted to join the Century club ever since I tried the Hotter ‘n Hell 100 in Wichita Falls, Texas many years ago. I completed about 75 miles and had to stop because they were closing the course. Rules! Ever since then I wanted to try again but life keeps getting in the way. There are a ton of excuses that I could come up with but not this year. This year I think I got all the pieces together to get the job done. Training plan, indoor trainer if needed, route for the ride and determination.

My other goal is more touring the Rio Grande Valley on my bike. I still want to reach Rio Grande City safely and I might make a run for it. I’ll need some more planing and maybe a little help. If I can safely make it to Rio Grande City, I’ll take a look at trying for Falcon Lake. There is a great State park there that would make a great stay over trip.

If I go the other direction and head East towards the coast I have more options and friendlier roads to cycle on. There are several Wildlife Refuge as well a civil war battle field park that I always wanted to visit via cycling. I have gone to two of them with a group of cyclists but this time I want to do it solo on my schedule and pace.

Besides what I have mentioned, there are a lot of small towns that dot the area. I’m sure there is some good food to be had if I looked hard enough. Would be nice if I could make it to the beach but the causeway is closed to bikes unless it’s a special charity bike event.

In essence, I would like to do more longer rides and a full Century is a good way to start. I can’t think of a better way to drop the weight by exploring the Rio Grande Valley on a bike. With the Valley’s nearly year long subtropical weather I should have a good chance of achieving my two goals.

What are your resolutions for 2015? Drop a comment and let me know.