Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Sunday Morning Ride

Headed out about 7:45 a.m. Peeked outside, saw some sunlight mixed with clouds. Decided to glance at the local radar just to be safe since t-storms were forecast.
I like Click a bookmarked link for the local FW weather page which includes a small radar shot. You click on it for the full screen/options etc.
Nothing showing. Good. Head out.

Looks pretty dark to the west. maybe just fog from all of the rain the past few days? Exagerated by the sunrise in the east? Less than a mile down the Trinity Trail I am getting hit with the first fat drops. Up Rogers Road, by TCU and over to a local ride meeting point. Little late for it but then as most rides go, they never start on time. Nobody there. Rain spatters a bit more. Maybe everybody knows something I don't. Should have clicked the radar page, as I have learned the small front page image isn't always up to date. It appears a storm is either a) building b) fading c) passing by. I continue on down the river after reviewing the sky and deciding it looks to be eith b) or c). This usually results in a thorough soaking. I get rained on a little but nothing too bad. Damp. Onward.
Down the trinity, rain seems to be subsiding. Clouds fading, blue sky is closer.
Across the water crossing by 183 and down Bellaire. Road is wet but the sun is out now. Quiet and nice.
Hit the intersection of Bellaire and River Bend and jump onto the Fort Worth Branch trail. Take it easy because the pavement is wet with a lot of debris. And because there is no reason to ride like a maniac on a narrow, twisting shared use path.
Pop out at the trailhead/park at Winscott Drive/Memorial Oak (Clear Fork Park I think?) and head out to Stevens (point?) Drive. This is a roller coaster road that dead ends with a nice view of Lake Benbrook and the downtown Fort Worth skyline. Best of all today is the sea of Texas wildflowers in bloom. Yellows, oranges, sprinkling of purples...I get a good chance to take it all in while I repair my tire. A fix for a small tear has failed and it is time to break out the boot and replace the tube. It starts to rain again. Of course. Lasts a minute and passes. A few other riders pass, all are nice and check to see if I need any help. I thank them and we go on with our respective tasks. Apparently others enjoy the view and exertion this little chunk of road offers as well. The house at the end is big and has a great 360 view of the skyline, lake or classic Texas open range. (full of aforementioned wildflowers) Nice looking place. And apparently empty. I think it has been for a while.
Tire fixed, I move on. It is extremely calm. Freakishly so by Texas norms. Nice!

Feeling good and decide to push things, hit the climbs in the big ring and muscle over. Continue down and onto Park Road, jump onto Winscott and enjoy the openess and the ability to turn the big gears. Back into the park/trailhead, slow things down, onto the trail. Cruising on the trail again, now with others out to enjoy a quite pleasant morning. Can't blame them a bit.

Surprised by the sudden whishing noise as another roadie type rider passes me on the left. Doesn't utter a word and quickly moves in front of me, resulting in me receiving a nice facefull of his roostertail off the wet trail. I am not going fast, but certainly not slow, probably 16-18 mph. He is going faster. Usually, 20mph is max on the trail for me. When wet and crowded, much less. Miffed by the lack of a courtesy callout and the indignant splattering, I move along. Around a corner and I see the rider, he seems to have leveled off and maintains a distance about 5 seconds in front of me. I am comfortable and keep at my own pace. Down the trail and past several people he passes without any apparent effort to alert them to his passing. This bothers me. This is not a great trail to pass without letting someone know. We procede on, and it appears he has slowed slightly, we are going about the same pace. I watch this rider's body language, which seems to indicate he is pushing it a little. A glance or two back. Is he looking to see where I am? Maybe. Cycling brings out an instinctive competitiveness with many. This strikes me as a possible case.

I briefly consider mentioning something to him about letting people know when you pass, just to be safe. He surprised me for sure. I don't. Who am I to tell people what they should do. I mull this a bit. We continue through the park and come out maybe 7 or 8 seconds separated. Another glance back. Once last thought about saying something and another mental veto of the idea...fear it won't be taken as friendly advice. Instead, I hit the street, drop a couple cogs smaller and accelerate up to my desired cruising speed. My final option? Pass by and not offer my thoughts. Leave it all behind (almost) with a steady cadence in the big gears. I wonder if he will try to catch up. We roadies often have a serious need to show each other how strong we are. It would be the height of hypocrisy to say I have not been guilty of this. In fact, at this moment, I am in the midst of speaking with actions as I push some heavy gearing in this blissfully calm humid morning air. I don't look back. I won't. It doesn't really matter. And like that, the moments pass and I am back on track.

The sun shines warmly now, and the humidity is up a bit. I like it. Feels lush full of life. That is what morning rides like this are all about. Suddenly, like a lightning bolt out of the brightening sky, I think of the coffee I have waiting at home. I really want this coffee. NOW. Not a craving at all, but just a determined statement in my mind that coffee is suddenly the thing that will be a great addition to the day. Already had some before I left. Now I want more. This is a motivating thought. I continue to push back up the Trinity Trail with a distinct goal firmly planted. There are a lot of people out now, which I find to be very nice. Lots of cyclists of all types. This is always something to enjoy, looking at the different people and what they are riding. Some pretty neat setups out and around. Racing rigs, bulk-store bikes, moutainbikes, hybrids, commuters and the occasional total frankenstein bike. These are the best. Sometimes wish I had a camera just to capture these.

Up the trail, into the homestretch. Runners everywhere. Lots of Ipods. Looke for the wires, yell a little louder, pass carefully...

Looking into the river, hoping to see a glimpse of one of the big Koi-like fish I saw by Rogers road a few weeks back. Big white and gold things, not sure what they would be. Koi? I guess they could be. Seems like a fair habitat for them.
Lots of ducks but no ducklings, yet.

Now through the backstreets. Going to need some food with that coffee. Definitely hungry now. Home, coffee, food, dogs that want to lick the nasty grime off my legs. No, not today. Shower definitely in short order.

Recount the day into electronic abyss for possible recollection someday, waiting for the 5pm kickoff to the Amgen Tour of California.

Nice day indeed. Feels like it should be done by now, so glad it isn't.

MWSR - Day 2 rambling reminiscing

The 2010 Mineral Wells Stage Race started off wet. Soaking wet really. Day two brought some hope, as the drive home Saturday afternoon briefly flashed with some sunlight. The bulk of the slow moving mass of rain seemed to be moving east, so of course I drove into it just west of Ft. Worth. I-20/I-30 westbound lanes were full of cars in various states of distress. The drive was sketchy and I felt the spooky pull of the hydroplane on several occasions.
Looking at the radar later, it seemed things may just have a chance to dry out overnight, and generally, that held true.

Another early morning start, but at least the road was somewhat dry and I wasn't working to avoid sucking wet grime off the wheel in front of me. The first lap was pretty casual, likely due to the longer Sunday route, a repeat of the Sat. RR with an additional lap (~24 miles). I was glad to see things were starting slowly. Attrition had reduced the field notably as well, and I can't say I blamed anyone. After the thorough soaking Saturday I wasn't that excited to do it all again the next day. Lap 1 was generally uneventful. Then it began to rain again. Great. And that is how it would go the rest of the day. Groundhog Day. Well, not quite. It was a little colder. So much for a good thing. We raced on. The pace picked up. Eventually a guy rode off the front. Nobody chased. he built up a little time and then another rider attacked to try and bridge up. Nobody chased. We ride on. Early into the final lap things started to get animated, and there were several small attacks that were quickly soaked up. pun not inteded but appropriate. Eventually a small group including a couple of the top GC men broke off. I was buried in what there was of the pack trying to avoid the wind (did I mention it was windy again as well?) and watched as they tested the break, found it to their suiting and pushed forward. One of the other top 5 or so saw what was happening and shot up from the left side to join the party and make sure he wasn't left behind. The rest of us sat in. With several team mates protecting the break I didn't feel obliged to try and improve my GC position although I wasn't feeling too bad. I also wasn't feeling good enough to do the work in a small 4 or 5 man break for the next hour, and wasn't sure it would stay away for sure. After a minute of thinking about it, I realized it probably would. The remaining team members would protect the break. The new chase group contained top GC players who were obviously riding well. Yeah...that would probably do it. Try and go with any additional shots would be my new plan. Or sit in and get this swamp-fest over with and chalk up a good weekend of racing-training. Definitely leaning towards the latter.

We hit the big climb for the last time, dropping some more riders and turn into the nasty crosswind. The group starts to echelon which is cool with me. I rotate up, take a fair pull and start to fade back. Then the guy next in line decides to put it in the gutter and start drilling it. I fade back to the back but am working hard to keep the cadence, hit the back gassed and spend the next several minutes fighting for any degree of draft. Seriously hurting I start to fade back, finding no draft without practically riding in the grass, which isn't a good sounding option. I am dying a thousand deaths. I glance at my heart rate which informs me I am at about 168 or so beats per minute. Thats it? Thats only about 85%, not bad at all. This surprises me, but the suffering washes out any real care at the time. Guy up front continues to drill it, or perhaps he is taking turns with one of his teammates who was on his wheel. This move baffles me somewhat, as it doesn't appear to be an effort to organize a chase so much as to put the group in the gutter and inflict some pain. Which is a great move on me having just been on the front, but I am a non-factor so that makes no sense. Do they think they are going to shred the group? Probably not, maybe drop a few off the tail end, but the rest can sit in the line and let whoever is up front blow himself out. At this point it doesn't matter, I fade back, watch the wheel truck come up next to me, the boundry that marks being in the race and being out. The group is tantalizingly close but I am about shot, and know that the end of the line doesn't offer me any real protection I begin to resign myself to the realization that my weekend is about over. The wheel truck slowly passes to my left. As it does, it is like a sweet vacuum envelopes me. I can actually rest for a moment from the pummeling the wind has been giving me. The truck is moving slowly and I am able to stay off the right rear quarter and enjoy the reprieve. Drafting a vehicle in a race is illegal. Of course this type of move would never get called out, and frankly, I don't care right now. Nobody cares. And then the line in front of me disintegrates, I catch up and join back in, not completely decimated. It is like I have survived a serious of punches in a heavyweight fight after taking a stunning initial shot. With only about 6 or 7 miles to go, I figure that may be the last of such moves. It is. The rest is resting until the final mile or two, the cat and mouse attacks, covers, counters etc. Eventually a rider attacks and pulls away. A big guy joins him. I try to get up and over to his wheel. Another rider has the same idea. He is closer and I figure to get on his wheel. Good plan except as he catches the wheel in front of him, he fades, gapping both of us. The group crawls in for the bunch sprint and I swing in with them, towards the back. Glad it is done. I finish with a someteenth place, which is fine with me. Surprised by the number or riders who have fallen off on the last lap. Glad it is over. Soaked and cold again, but not feeling to bad.
This is the reward, signs of progress. Feeling better on day two. All skin in tact.
I will take it. On to the next challenge. Which will be...???