Went out to Liberty Hill, Texas for the Armadillo Hill Country Classic, run by the Austin Cycling Association. It’s a great ride through some nice Hill Country scenery, and is always well attended. I last rode the ride in 2008, and was looking forward to going again.
This year, I convinced Pat to join me. She’d done well on other organized rides lately, but didn’t seem enthusiastic about this one. At first, she told me to go on my own, then said she’d join me and do the 28 miler (there were options of 14, 28, 42, 50, 61, 78, and 105 miles).
Although I hadn’t registered until one hour before the deadline Thursday night, both our names were on the roster, and we got our numbers, t-shirts and goodie bags. Pat liked the fact that the high school where the ride started was open, and we could use their bathrooms instead of porta potties. Note to self: From now on, on organized rides, bring extra safety pins. We got only two pins to attach the ride number to our jerseys, and I was serenaded by the flutter-crackle-pop noise of the flapping number throughout the ride.
The start went off without a hitch, and we were soon in the country. The day was overcast, with a cool 65ºF (18ºC) temperature and a brisk wind from the northwest. It made riders work harder, but it wasn’t blow-you-over strong, so it was still doable. I figured it would slow me down, though, so instead of the planned 61-mile route, I decided to go 50 instead. A few friends I met at the start told me they planned the same thing.
The Armadillo is known for its well-stocked and friendly rest stops. I skipped the first two, but made sure to stop at the one in Bertram.
Replenished and refreshed, I headed out for the second half of the ride. The country roads were in various states of repair, some with new chipseal, others worn smooth by the local traffic. Live oak trees canopied the riders in some stretches. And then there were the hills. Not killer hills — except for one short, steep one — but long rollers. My increased mileage this year helped, and I started passing other riders on the way back to Liberty Hill.
At the next-to-last rest stop, I ran into my friend Scott, who’d been left behind by his group. Scott has been out of the country for work lately, and hasn’t been riding much. He was getting cramps in his calves on the uphills. We decided to ride the rest of the way together.
We pulled into the high school parking lot at about 11:40 a.m. Pat was waiting in the car. When I asked her how her ride was, she replied, “Great! I breezed it! Now I’m pissed that I didn’t go 42 miles.” She’s getting stronger on the bike.
My own time surprised me. Although I still felt strong at the end, and had blasted some hills that beat me up two years ago, my on-bike time was only four minutes better than 2008. Thank goodness there’s always that brisk northwest wind to blame.