Ride for the Roses 2001

"Three Cyclists Inseparable At Finish As They Hold Off Thirteen Desperate Challengers"

by John Rider

bicycle chain

I arrived in Austin around 10:00 on Saturday morning.  The car rental clerk gave me an upgrade on the car I had reserved because it would make it easier to move the bike around.  She was a bit worried that I wouldnít be able to transport the bike otherwise.  This was welcome turn of events as I had just got over a bit of a scare that my bike had been lost because it wasnít on the baggage carousel.  After it was obvious that everything was unloaded, I started looking around to see where it could possibly be.  I finally found it at the oversize baggage claim.  Why didnít any body tell me about this???  (Probably should have asked.)

Get to my brotherís house, put the bike together, hmmm, have I got everything?  Yep.  Reassembly went faster than taking it apart and packing it up, with the exception of the tube I ruined with the frame pump.  Now weíre off to the civic center, itís time to meet John and Dean and get signed in. 

At packet pick-up, the LAF has a well-oiled machine.  Numbers are given out sequentially as you arrive, you have to decide where you want your start position to be:  25+, 20-25, 18-20, 15-18, etc., put your emergency contact on the back of your number, get your starting position sticker, and then finally the goody bag.  Went smooth once I figured where the heck to go.  Ahh, thereís John!!  They have seats, and there is something about to start.

The something turns out to be a discussion panel including the man of the weekend, Lance.  The panel takes their seats on the stage and here comes Lance!  Applause.  Man, heís a little guy.  Well, not exactly little, but he looks kind of average size from where Iím sitting.  Funny how people in the public eye are always so much larger than life.  There is a discussion about Cancer Survivorship and what it means to the individuals on the panel.  LAF is working to educate people, and funding a new Life After Cancer Program.  We listen for a while, the stories are pretty moving.

Went back to do a quick test of the bike to ensure everything is put together properly.  The bike is fine, but some of these hills around town are steep!  I could be in trouble tomorrow.

Went back to Sixth Street to get some food and watch the downtown criterium race.  While waiting for John and Dean, I got to see part of the menís handcycling race.  There is a lot of variety amongst the machines, but the lead guys look like they are riding faster than I do on my upright bike.  Found some Thai food, and got back on the street to watch the pro race.  These guys are unbelievably fast, lapping the Ĺ mile course in just over a minute!  And this is not the finishing sprint yet.  Team Saturn was out front keeping the pace high with solo breakaway attempts, but closer to the end, a large break away develops.  Then, wham, about 10 riders go down in the turn!!  It happened so fast, couldnít really tell what caused it, but several riders had to go to the pit for repairs.  The finishing bells spelled the end of the breakaways as the main pack really started to pour on the steam.  Now the pack is starting to string out, and it looks like some riders are even getting lapped.  It was a classic sprint finish with Navigators taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  I made it back to Egoís Bar just in time to see James Rider and the 4:20 AM Turnaround finish up their set for the night!! 

Morning has a way of coming early for these big rides.  Pack up the car and get on out the Expo center where the ride is to start and finish.  Traffic moves in smoothly, no problems getting set up.  James finds his starting group as he is just doing the 25 miler, and I find John and Dean lined up with the mid paced group of the metric century.  Subway makes a $17k donation to the LAF, and their spokes guy Jared is on hand.  Lance gives a thank you, but from our vantage point, we canít see a thing.  There are also paratroopers, each sporting a different flag, including:  US, Texas, and POW MIA.  And finally, to cap the opening ceremony, some one plays the national anthem ala Hendrix.  The groups are started in three to five minute waves, with the speedy bunch up ahead.  It takes about twenty minutes before our group is called (we had put ourselves in the 15-18mph group.)  The route heads out on a four-lane highway with the right lane blocked off by cones.  Thatís really a mixed blessing as we can ride several abreast, but the call ďcone!Ē was quite common.  We watched one rider catch the cone with her pedal, rub tires with her friend in front, and somehow manage to stay upright.  ďNice riding!Ē

It wasnít too much longer, about 5 miles in, when my wheel twanged.  ďWhat was that?Ē  Man, does anybody have a spoke and a spoke wrench?  The first sag offered a ride back to the starting lineÖcanít take that offer; I came to far for this!  About a mile further up is a second sag, and yes, he has a spoke wrench (but no spokes.)  We get back under way, and I even have brakes!  After a good bit of riding we finally get out onto the back roads.  So far there havenít been any of those steep hills like we rode in town yesterday.  Then, at about three rest stops in, Dean and I lose touch with John.  ďHe had to see us stop, thereís no way he would have kept on.Ē  Only he must have, because after 10 minutes there is still no sign of him.  Well, letís see if we can reel him in.  Twang!  Thatís the second spoke for the day.  Only this time, the wheel is rubbing on the frame.  Struck out with the next available sag again, the second sag was able to help.  No brakes, huge wobble, but at least itís not rubbing the frame.  We get to the next rest stop and thereís John!  We get some food and water, and then one of the volunteers points another sag:  maybe he has some spokes.  Nelo (of Nelo Pro Bikes in Austin) to the rescue!  He has two spokes that will fit and recommends I take the wheel back to where I had just had it trued, and get them to reduce tension:  thatís why your spokes are breaking.

Back on the road, and weíre definitely among the "I just want to finish" crowd now.  The final rest stop has music and costumed super heroes to greet us and cheer us along.  Itís here that John suffers the first flat.  And then about a mile further, the second:  a big hole right at the valve stem.  A few more miles, and the backup tube with the patch fails.  And, then, if we arenít hurting enough already, the on the road patch doesnít even inflate properly.  Itís at this point that the sag we had previously sent away stopped and fixed us up despite our feeble protest.   New rim tape, new tube, and a couple of spare tubes and we are back on the road with a warning:  ďThey are about to close the route, but if you hurry they might not pick you up in the cattle wagon.Ē

We string out s bit towards the end, but once weíre back to the Expo center, we regroup and cross the line together!  There were several hardy volunteers still there to cheer and ring bells.  There was also one angry brother, wanting to know what had happened to you (bleeping) slowpokes!?  He finished his 25 miles, took a nap, listened to the bands at the party and finally checked with the organizers to see if we had been hurt.  He did find out that we three were among the last sixteen cyclists on the road.  We were able to get water, but we had to watch the Fat Tire Amber Ale truck close itís doors and drive away.

It was quite the adventure, and with the exception of our bad luck with the mechanicals, an excellent event!


Page maintained by Tom Sheffield and last revised on Saturday, May 19, 2001
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