Today was the Texas 4000 Atlas Ride. This ride is the first leg of a 4500 mile journey that students from the University of Texas make each summer to raise money for cancer research. Although I am an Aggie, I strongly agree with the basis behind this ride. Plus, who can argue with a ride that ends at a winery?
The ride starts in Cedar Park. There are several options of ride lengths, the longest being 70 miles. Since I haven't been on the bike much this year, I knew going in I would only do the 50 mile route.
This ride is also one of the few rides where most people actually enjoy the ride and don't go blasting off the start in a race. I like that because when you have that many people leaving an area at once, it can get a little tight. When you have showboaters out there it can get dangerous.
I took off at a pace that felt comfortable. I didn't want to blow up early. The good thing was that there was a little bit of a tailwind and it was still a little overcast early. Plus, the roads early in the ride are good, smooth roads, so you can build up some speed. This helped get me to the 2nd aid station (about mile 26) in around 1:30. I stopped to potty (as usual) and refill one of my water bottles and then took the route for the 50 miles (this is where the 50 and 70 milers split off). Last year I had done the 70 mile route so I was unfamiliar with the rest of the ride. And leaving that rest stop, it seemed like the next several miles were all uphill. Nothing big, but a long gradual climb. Ughhh. But onward I went.
The sun started poking out a little bit and I knew I was slowing down some, but that was ok with me. I was there to enjoy the ride (and the wine at the end). Just before the last aid station at around mile 40, there was a guy up ahead who had stopped. He kind of circled back and I thought maybe he had dropped something. Then he did one of those "I'm going to slow, I've lost my balance and I'm going down" crashes. I wondered if he was ok. As I got closer I realized he was trying to alert us that there was a snake in the road. And it wasn't dead. Yikes! From what he said,it was a water mocasin, but I have no idea. I didn't get close enough to find out.
After a brief stop at the aid statin to dump some cold water on my head, it was off for the last 10 miles. Or what I thought was 10 miles. It turned out to be more like 13, which in the grand scheme isn't that big of a deal, but I had it in my head I was doing 50 and by 50, I was mentally done. Those last 3-4 miles were hard. And they were even harder because they take you through a neighborhood with bad roads and then through the city park and on a hike and bike trail for a a bit. You have to really slow down a lot.
When I pulled in the vineyard for the finish, I was happy. I was ready to be off the bike and it was getting hot. After changing clothes and grabbing a coke I went to get some food. This is one part of the ride I really like as well. I'm a vegetarian and most races do not offer a vegetarian option. This race does and if you have meat on your plate, you don't get the veggie option. They want to make sure there is enough for the vegetarians. It was catered BBQ,so I got some bread, pickles and potato salad before heading over to get my veggie kabob. And that's when I realized they had made vegetarian beans! Wahoo!!! I love beans but usually can't eat them because most BBQ places cook them with bacon or ham. But today I could.
Several friends joined me while eating and when we were done, we headed inside the winery for the wine tasting. The bar was full at first so they sent us to the back where a "secondary" tasting was going on. The vineyard we were at this year was different than last year, but right next door. Turns out the two vineyards are owned by brothers, so the brother from next door had his wines in the back. We sampled all of his wines and then went into the main room and sampled the wines from the main vineyard. Nice! After buying a few bottles it was time to head home.
What a great day!