"Three Cyclists Inseparable At Finish As They Hold Off Thirteen Desperate Challengers"
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 wouldn’t 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t any body tell me about this??? (Probably should have asked.)
Get to my brother’s 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 we’re off to the civic center, it’s 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, there’s 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, he’s a
little guy. Well, not exactly
little, but he looks kind of average size from where I’m 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 men’s 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 ½ 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, couldn’t 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 Ego’s 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 can’t 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.
That’s really a mixed blessing as we can ride several abreast, but the
call “cone!” 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.
It wasn’t too much longer, about 5 miles in, when my
wheel twanged. “What was that?”
Man, does anybody have a spoke and a spoke wrench?
The first sag offered a ride back to the starting line…can’t 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 haven’t 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. “He had to see us
stop, there’s no way he would have kept on.”
Only he must have, because after 10 minutes there is still no sign of
him. Well, let’s see if we can
reel him in. Twang!
That’s 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 it’s not rubbing the frame. We
get to the next rest stop and there’s 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:
that’s why your spokes are breaking.
Back on the road, and we’re 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. It’s 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 aren’t hurting enough already, the on the
road patch doesn’t even inflate properly.
It’s 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: “They
are about to close the route, but if you hurry they might not pick you up in the
We string out s bit towards the end, but once we’re 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 it’s doors and drive
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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