…I did the Resolution Ride again this year. A local bike shop puts on this New Year’s Day ride from its far north store. It’s an out-and-back of either 25 or 50 miles. Pat and I did it last year, and really enjoyed it, so we decided we’d make a return trip again this year.
The forecast was promising. We’ve had great weather since Christmas, and on December 31st, the high reached 77 degrees (25C). But for New Year’s Day, the prognosticators had a cold front moving through shortly after midnight, with 20 mph winds from the north and plummeting temperatures. The first half of the ride heads north. We prepared for the worst.
The dicey forecast didn’t deter the diehard cyclists in town. Ride organizers told us that 300 riders had registered for the ride — and it looked like most everyone showed up, despite the less than ideal conditions. The 50 milers took off first, then those of us in the 25-mile group.
The route is along Parmer Lane northwest of Austin. Parmer becomes Ronald Reagan Blvd. once it leaves the suburbs and gets into open rural land. For most of its length, long rolling hills test cyclists. Coupled with the wind in our faces, the ride out was challenging.
I was astounded at the number of cyclists who showed up underdressed. Several times, we encountered riders with just t-shirts and shorts — and loose, flapping athletic shorts at that. Some of them realized the folly of their ways, and turned around early to head back to the bike shop, but a substantial contingent stuck with it, and soldiered on into the cold wind.
I found myself moving ahead of Pat and having to wait for her from time to time. We were averaging a whopping 8-9 mph against the wind, and Pat was gasping at the summits of the big hills. One rider who joined us for a breather laughed when I told him the turnaround was at the next intersection, which we could see from where we’d stopped.
“I told my wife the turnaround came here, at the top of the hill,” he said. “She’s going to get here and wonder who moved the cheese.”
It turned out that I was wrong, too. I had glanced at a route map before the start, and saw that the turnaround for the 25-milers was at state highway 29. In fact, it was past that point, at a little side road. We made our turnaround at less than 12 miles.
But we didn’t care. As soon as we headed south, the wind became our friend. The sun warmed our fronts, and we sailed down the road, which was more downhill on the way back than on the way out. At one point, I hit 34 mph on a hill — and probably could have gone faster if my bike hadn’t started acting skittish on me, causing me to slow down a bit.
We pulled into the bike shop’s parking lot, and once again felt the cold north wind hit us. But as any good ride should do, breakfast tacos and coffee (and beer) were available at the finish. We sat in the warmth of the sun, shielded from the wind by the building’s wall.
Pat told me this ride was the longest she’d ridden since at least September. “I don’t care if we only did 23 miles,” she said. “In today’s conditions, it feels like 25, and that’s what I’m going to call it.”
Because I throttled back to stay close to Pat for most of the ride, my average speed was only 12.4 mph. But it was a good ride — with no major mechanicals, unlike last year — except for one that Pat discovered as we were putting the bikes on the car rack. More on that in the next post.