Pat’s training ride for the upcoming Hill Country Ride for AIDS had a great route today, so I decided to tag along. It was to run from Dripping Springs to Johnson City and back, a total of 52.2 miles. The first nine miles are along my favorite ride in the area, Creek Road.
Quite a few riders — I would guess about 50 — turned up for the ride. It was well organized, with several ride leaders and SAG support. Pat’s goal was to ride somewhere around 27-30 miles. I figured I’d try to complete the whole ride.
We were sent off in groups, to avoid a traffic bottleneck at the beginning of the ride, where we had to cross a busy four-lane highway. Creek Road runs past small ranches, including several with longhorn cattle. It parallels Onion Creek for much of its length, and is only 8.8 miles to its end, so it makes an easy out-and-back. But today, we were continuing on, and hit the first set of big hills just a couple of miles after leaving Creek Road.
I hit a top speed of 36.6 mph on one of the downhills, and the others were just as exhilarating, if not quite that fast. Going uphill, I was in the largest cog and the small chainring more often than not. But I felt great, and determined to keep an easy pace.
A turn to the west, and we passed a sign that said, “Johnson City 8 miles.” The rollers got steeper — and longer — and slower. I pulled over to suck down some water (flavored with Emergen-C). When I got going again, a passing rider shouted, “Just one more bigass hill and we’re there.” I took heart.
But there were more like three bigass hills. I was glad to see the other riders pulled up at a convenience store at the town’s (pop. 1200) main intersection. I rested, wrung out my bandana, ate a Kashi bar, drank more water. I had forgotten to stick a five-dollar bill in my pocket, and had nothing to buy more food and drink with.
Pat called. She had turned around at the 14-mile mark, and was now only five miles from the starting point. I had the car key. She was bummed. I told her I’d hurry back, but knew it would take two hours to get there.
Eastbound, we were into the wind. The hills that had been tough on the way out were a lot tougher. I could tell things were not going well. I coasted all the downhills, and spun easily — and very slowly — on the uphills. I pulled off for an impromtu rest stop only about six miles out of town.
The hills got harder. When I reached the road that turned south, I pulled off for a long rest. I knew there was no way I would get back to Dripping Springs under my own power. As luck would have it, one of the sag trucks came by. I called it quits, tossed my bike into the pickup’s bed, and squeezed in with two other worn out riders.
I completed 37.2 miles, at an average speed of 14.3. Clearly, I need more time in the saddle, and I need to raise my caloric intake on these rides. Losing 20-30 pounds would help, too. On the plus side, it was my longest ride in three months, over terrain I don’t ride often enough. Going to ride more hills, and investigate just what would be the best way to fuel up for longer rides in the future.