Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bike rack for inside the car

Since we've been using Dan's Suburban as transportation to the ride starts I built a bike rack that fits in the back of the car.  A couple 2x4s and a couple fork mounts from performance bike and we have a great way to keep the bikes upright and still leaves room for our other gear.  This would also work well for a pick up truck, or just to hold bikes in the garage.  They are spaced just far enough that a third bike could fit facing the other way between them, meaning these could be staggered (or tessellated if you want to get nerdy about it) to create a long row of bikes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Responsible Refueling

Refueling your body is an important part of any exercise and even more critical on an extended endurance ride.  Jon and I typically knock out over 50 miles before getting off the saddle the first time.  Leading up to that stop we steadily take in carb rich fuel in the form of energy gels.  Without these gooey packets of sugar we would bonk out as our body shuts down from lack of usable fuel.  You simply can't convert other energy sources, like fat, to a burnable fuel fast enough.  But these little packets of goo have a dark side - they easily turn into roadside litter.  

At some point on the Outlaw 100, Jon was taking in a Hammer Banana energy gel and wondering how they could possibly make artificial banana taste so bad.  To prove the point, he handed over a vanilla for me to try.  I've had the opportunity to try a number of brands of gel and gummies recently.  I can say, without a doubt, Hammer is my least favorite.  The vanilla tasted like that cafeteria style pudding bought in a gallon can from a warehouse store.  You know the kind.  

This was a thick, sticky mess of pasty vanilla that I could barely squeeze out of the foil pack.  I was left wondering how they could make vanilla taste so bad.  I mean, really!  Energy gel is sugar, vitamins, minerals, and flavorings.  You'd think it would be hard to screw up.  After I squeezed as much of the paste out as I could, I folded the foil packet, trying with moderate success to keep the sticky opening to the inside, and slipped it into one of my jersey pockets.

Despite the taste, I was very disappointed to find at the next rest stop that it had accidentally fallen out of my pocket when I was digging for other things, inadvertently becoming flotsam.  Even more disturbing is the number of riders I have witnessed jettisoning their spent fuel packets like booster rockets that have fulfilled their only use.  These foil packets are covered inside and out with a plastic lamination giving them an indefinite roadside life span.  Why do people still think it is okay to litter?  I would have hoped that cyclists were more conscientious as whole, after all, we are out travelling under our own power under the big sky enjoying the fresh air and scenery.  

If you use any type of energy gel or gummy packet, here are two simple rules:

1) Do not tear the top off completely!  Leave it attached and fold it down out of your way.  If you detach this little top you will likely lose it to the wind.  Keep it all together.
2) When your done, hang on to it and dispose of it properly.  Fold it so you wont get all gooey and stick it in a pocket somewhere.

I've come to strongly prefer refillable gel bottles.  These 5oz bottles come with a pull top like a water bottle that is easy to open and dispense from.  I started making my own gel from a honey base that I greatly prefer to any of the commercial products.  It is much less expensive and easier to manage than little goo packs.  I refill two 5oz bottles at a cost of about $1.50 - the same amount of commercial gel would run close to $15.00.  So I save money and generate less waste which means less chance of tiny foil packs sullying our roads. 

Outlaw 100 - Round Rock

Our third race is a wrap!  We rolled just over 100 miles in the Round Rock Outlaw 100.

We tried to leave Dallas at a reasonable time, but both of got hung up at work.  Follow that with a stop at store for white bread (love those carbs) and road snacks, a fuel stop (40 gallons takes a while), a quick dinner we called in to Pei Wei, and a beer run.  It was right about 8 PM we were finally getting on the road.  Luckily traffic wasn't terrible getting out of town and we made pretty decent time to Round Rock.

Interestingly, spicy Pad Thai makes a great high carb meal just before a race.  I was a little worried that would come back to haunt me, but it turned out perfect.  Jon saved his leftover spicy DanDan Noodles for breakfast, which he later decided was a mistake.  Note to self: despite our iron guts, spicy sauce that close to an intense workout is a bad idea.

Dad was on this ride, contemplating the 100 miler.  Here he is with Jon about 7:50 AM, right before we rolled.

Dad and Jon at the start line
We left Old Settlers Park with a police escort with just under 1,000 other riders.  As you can see from the course map, every few miles we caught a turn somewhere.  Quite a bit of the countryside was just gorgeous, but we also hit some rougher, run down parts.  Several mile were on a disintegrated, at one time concrete, road that had turned to loose gravel.  That really slowed everyone down.  Another section was old blacktop poured on sand.  It looked like an old dirt road with the hump the in the middle and deep tire tracks.  Luckily most of the serious potholes had been patched, but it was still a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

Lots of up and down on this course.  I don't think there was really a steady elevation gain, but constant up a 100 feet, down a hundred feet, repeat for the next 100 miles.  Not as bad as some of the west Austin hills, just the slow rolling hills of south Texas.  It made for a more difficult ride than anticipated since there weren't any decent flat areas to gain speed on.  Couple that with the twisty course and a shifting wind that always seemed to be catching our face... let's just say it was fun.

We made decent speed through to our first stop at around mile 57, rolling about 18 miles an hour.  Funny thing about this one, they put the "Watering Hole" sign at the beginning of Granger Dam but the rest stop was 2.5 miles away on the other side of the dam.  It was kind of a cruel trick.  Overall this ride only had moderate support.  Rest stop 5 was out of water when we got there, luckily more was delivered - but thirsty riders sucked it up nearly as fast as it was unloaded.  Everyone was friendly and helpful though.

Jon and Dan at just over half way
When Dad hit the cut-off he decided the 63 miler was a better choice.  He held strong and knocked it out in 6 hours.  Jon and I clocked in right at 7 hours for the 100.  Slower than our normal pace, but not bad overall.  This puts us 300 miles in to our 1300 mile adventure.  Only 1000 miles and 10 months to go!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tour de Pink Recap

This one is a little behind, but here it is!  All told, we raised $665 dollars towards breast cancer research.  A big "Thank You!" to all our supporters:

Laura Dornback
Lynda Curtis
Anne Linder
Bruce Byerly
Roger and Beverly McKemie
Amanda O'Brien
Mattie Rushing
Melinda Sedelmeyer
Cheryl Shore
Jason Greenwald
Steve Bledsoe
Kyle Carter

Thank you as well to Shirley Dornback for cooking us an awesome spaghetti dinner that we carb loaded with the night before.  We crashed in a field on the Prairie View A&M campus and listened to a few post game revelers wrap up their party while we chowed.  We woke up early, 5AM, to coffee from the vacuum thermos and PB&Js.  It looked like we were one of the few out-of-towners - at least one of the few to brave camping in the back field.   

Compared to the HH100, this was minuscule, with just over 1,000 riders, we took off right at the start time of 7AM.  The course was sort of like Wile E. Coyote's head, with his nose pointed to the ground.  We pushed hard and caught our first break rest stop 4, mile 55.  The rest stops were small, but friendly.  Lots of nice people helping us out.

Around mile 65 we turned north, and we really started to drag.  The wind pushed right into our face pretty much the rest of the way.  We ended up stopping twice more at 6 and 7 because we were so drained.  At 7 we made the mistake of dropping into some well intended folding camp chairs.  If you are ever considering doing a ride like this.... do.... not.... sit.... in.... a.... chair.  No matter how much you hurt, all that chair will do is remind you of how comfortable you could be.  It puts your mission at risk, and make no mistake, you are on a mission.  Completion is dependent on your focus.  That comfy chair will cause your focus to shift.

Luckily, not long after stop seven the course move east again and the wind wasn't quite as bad.  We actually picked up speed, hitting sprints of over 20 mph.  Crossing the finish line felt good, but not triumphant.  The post-ride fare was school cafeteria burgers.  We popped a few beers in the parking lot and relaxed for a while before hitting the road.

On the way home we stopped for for a plate of fried deliciousness at Sam's Restaurant.  They had a surprisingly good buffet.  There is nothing like real pan-fried chicken fried steak with smashed taters and fried okra to bring you back.

All told, a great trip that put us at 200 miles towards our goal of 13 hundred in 13 months.