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 🙂

2013: Looking Back

Dale

Dale

Well another year has come and gone and it’s time to reflect on this past year and the goals that I set out to achieve. Although I achieved many of them, some goals  still elude me. No biggie, there is always next year. Over all, it has been a very good year with new friends, rides, bikes and the like.

As I said in my last post, I’ve dropped two pant sizes and I’m ecstatic about that, but the winter Holiday months have been hard and my weight has slid up a little. Yes, I’m disappointed but I gotta keep at it and not let up. Hopefully, next year will be even better with this weight loss. My goal is to lose enough weight to enable me to eliminate the need to use a CPAP machine. That’s my ultimate goal. You don’t know the extra freedom that it will give me. Try being tied to one and you’ll appreciate the freedom you have now.

Other than dropping two pant sizes, I also did metric century rides in both the organized and solo variety. They were surprisingly easy to do, just a little time-consuming. I did struggle on the solo version, but that wasn’t a planned ride. It was rather an impromptu occasion, but I still made it! I still want to do more of them.

A new bike can be considered a goal. I love my Specialized Roubaix. Without this bike and the  proper bike fit, I would have not done the Century rides. I really can’t stress that enough. Get a bike fit! It is money well spent. At the moment, I don’t see any new bikes in the future.

This year was the year of training rides with a slew of newbies, and that’s cool. I loved helping them out and getting them started on their personal cycling journey. I’m wanting to do that again next year. It’s such a thrill to see them start to get the idea of shifting and how easy it can make cycling be. There is also the empowerment you help them achieve by teaching them how to fix a flat. Once they learn to do that, they are no longer restricted to just around the neighborhood. It gives them the freedom to go out further and explore new routes knowing that if they get a flat, they can deal with it and get it fixed. This is something I hope to do more of next year.

This year I was able to ride the completed Mission Trails at San Antonio. What a fun route that is. The last time I rode the trail it was not complete and you had to detour back on the streets to complete the tour. This time around the trail is completed and follows the San Antonio River. Very scenic and beautiful filled with wildlife and people using the trail for a variety of reasons including fishing! I love seeing families out there fishing. Don’t know if they catch anything but I think it’s the time spent together that really matters.

San Antonio has other trails that I want to go and explore. There is something called the Greenway system. From what I can tell from the maps, it’s a trail system that the city is trying to develop that circles the city between the 410 and 1604 loops. They are not complete but some of them are already open. It’s something to go and explore in the near future.

Through out the year I’ve collected pictures of my rides with friends and by myself. I have it streaming to my Apple TV, but was wondering how I could stream it to others without them having to have an Apple account. I figured why not make a movie out of it and put it up on YouTube. I like using iMovie and the movie trailers feature, so I decided to use that. Browsing through it I found a nice holiday teamed trailer that I adapted to fit my needs. Check it out below.

For some reason people look short and squat. I’m sure it has to do with the aspect ratio or something like that. Oh Well. If anyone has tips to prevent that, drop me a comment.

Next year I may do a video diary type of video. Not sure yet if that’s what I want to do. Not even sure if anyone would even watch it. lol I like doing this video editing stuff and I may even progress past iMovie to a different video editor, but I really like the movie trailer format that iMovie has.

Some may wonder who is Dale in the picture above. Dale was a dailymile friend that was killed this year doing what he loved to do, riding his bike. I still miss his postings and quite frankly, dailymile has not been the same without him. I wish his family a Merry Christmas as I’m sure they miss him too.

With many goals accomplished this year, I will need to think up of new challenging ones for next year and try to carry out the rest on my list. I still got the Century ride in both organized event and a solo ride. I like doing the solo versions because I feel they are more challenging. I always need to lose more weight too. I’ll come up with a list and post it sometime.

Well, that’s it for the year 2013. It’s done and over with and in the books. All that is left to do is to say is Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

As always, I welcome any comments or suggestions.

What I Fear When Cycling

I’ve been riding bikes since my high school years on my first ten-speed bike (SEARS), then up in the Dallas area when I moved up there, again here in the Valley and any city that I went to go cycle at (Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio). I’ve cycled on long country roads, neighborhood streets and mixed in with the cars on busy city streets and I do consider myself and experienced cyclist. But, that doesn’t lead to complacency, in fact my experience tells me to heighten my sense of surroundings. Does that make me fearless? No, not at all. I have fears just like any one out there. What I fear the most when I’m out cycling is not the car behind me, but the car behind the car.

You may thinking that all wrong, I should be afraid of the car that is immediately behind me, even if I’m on a shoulder or bike lane. True that vehicle poses the most immediate threat to my safety, but it’s really the car behind it. Why? Simple, most of the time they can’t see you! It’s even worse if the second car is behind a van or other large vehicle, they are really blind beyond the rear of the van. Especially those tailgater’s!

How many times have you been driving down the road and have that one car storm up behind your ass and tailgate, looking for that time to pass you up? You know the kind, they stay inches from your ass and then punch it the first chance they get to pass you. How about those guys who thinks the road is their personal Daytona 500 and they are out to win. I’ve personally seen them do that in front of me, tailgate the person, switching lanes frequently and when they can’t pass legally, they suddenly swerve into the shoulder and pass the car. If there was a cyclist riding on the shoulder they would be dead. Anyone for that matter.

What are the chances of that happening? I don’t have the computing power to answer that, but I can tell you it’s one of those things that is constantly in the back of my head when I’m out riding on a shoulder-less road and a car wants to pass me. I see the car in my mirror (yes I use a mirror), but I can’t see if there is another car behind that truck. If I can’t see that second car, then they can’t see me. Are they paying attention to the vehicle in front of them? Do they notice that they moved over to the left lane to pass me? Are they distracted with something? Are they in a bad mood? Are they in a hurry? During those times I’m not concentrating on riding, but on the cars. I don’t breathe a sigh of relief until they pass me and have me in their rear view mirror.

I look for other dangers while I’m out and about. You have to because becoming complacent will get you in trouble. There is plenty to look out for, blind spots, door opening, squeeze plays, debris on the road, etc. Don’t worry, I am having fun out there too! So, yes, the car behind the car is what fear the most when I’m out cycling getting my exercise in.

Have fun, but be safe.