Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Enchilada Buffet 2016!

The ride started off with a route that used the new Walnut Creek bridges to get us out of the park with dry feet (very nice). The roll south was brisk, and we ended up entering the Greenbelt about 7:30. [[Quick Note Of Recognition for the loon who tried to jump a wire mesh silt fence along Mopac and pulled a super sweet endo going like 20 mph. Made getting up at 5am so worth it]]. Just before Zilker, however, the ride leader got a bit turned around and took us the wrong way so we had to double back on ourselves. I was near the front and was caught in the mess so I entered the GB, I’m guessing, about 30th? At the first creek crossing a bunch of guys were working their way around the water like they were made of sugar. As I plunged in, caveman style, I called out ‘Yer all gonna git wet anyway!’. The fear of wet footsies helped me make up like 10 spots right there! The rest of the GB ride was pretty uneventful as I worked my way around groups of folks, finally catching up to Shane at the bottom of Walls.

Side note: this was also about the time I decided to take my first big drink of my homemade nuclear pickle juice (50% water, 50% vinegar, dash of salt, dash of sugar). I almost died, gaping like a fish as the sludge had a play day with my taste buds. Pro tip, pickle juice works but you have to be ready for that intense flavor. I found over the ride that I needed to take 3 deep, calming breaths before a shot. It really did seem to knock out cramps within ~40 seconds. It’s a bit of a horror show, but the results have earned it a place in my arsenal.

Shane, on a SS, had to hop off and walk near the start of EZ up so he let me by. As I rode off I was bellowing encouragement, but I wouldn't see my usual partner in crime again until Thumper. I ran into Jason, also on a SS, at the beginning of Soupcan. We rode the rest of the way to the HOL, where his technological disadvantage dictated he'd be walking; I decided to burn some matches. I almost no tapped it but I flubbed the little ledge ramp thingie. Thankfully my wife and kids didn’t see that so I got to ride past the cheering ‘GO DADDY BE AWESOME!’ crew like I’d been upright the whole way. Gary was waiting alongside my wife and taking pictures. He told me I was only 90 seconds behind the leaders and that I was in 9th place! At the very top of the HOL, Chris snapped a pic of my 181 bpm misery.

At the top, I actually had to ask a complete stranger to help me get my vest off because my fingers were totally numb from the 50 degree start but my core was overheating from the climb (thanks, stranger, I don’t usually do that on the first date - call me!).

I made it up Courtyard (Willie Nelson for President!) and the CP road w/o incident. I didn't see anyone so I knew I was pretty close to the front. Entered CP with a guy named Don who seemed unfamiliar with the trails. He was on me for a bit but got lost in all the dust and moto fumes. Made it out of CP without incident and I didn’t see anyone except Don the whole time (he was a nip lost but got it figured out). At the pavilion, I was just starting to mix up my infinit as the leaders were rolling out. Josh called to me to see if I was coming with them and I told him ‘I’ll catch-you-up in Thumper’. Yeah, right...

I hit 45 mph on the way down the City Park road. Tis a silly speed on a bicycle! I rode all of Jester, mostly b/c Chris was standing in the middle of the road making videos and my pride wouldn’t let me succumb to my leg's insistence that I was being unreasonable. I then sat at the Lakeway light for what seemed like 5 minutes, popped up 360 and hooked it up Spicewood. At this point I hadn't seen anyone since I left City Park and wouldn't until I was out of St. Ed's. St. Ed’s went w/o incident; I had to work around a few groups of very nice hikers who gave me lots of encouragement. I walked the death cliff - I got kids man! On the way back to Thumper, I passed a few guys heading to St. Ed’s on the road and they were cheering me to catch the leaders.

Gave my name and blood type to Mrs. Dawn and dove in. Saw the leaders pretty quickly - a switchback or so away and decided to try to actually catch them. At the 2 way section Shane was just starting the rocky climb bit and said ‘Thad, my bouncing baby boy, your family is waiting for you at the top!’. That was awesome news and I set off feeling renewed (to be fair, Thumper quickly crushed those high spirits, but for a minute all was rosy). 58 minutes later on the final switchbacks I heard cleats clicking and I knew I'd almost caught the front group. Got a bunch of hugs from my kids at the station, dumped about ½ of my Infinit into my pack (the other ½ went all over), got enough water in the pack to make the powder at least chewy, stuffed 2 orange slices in my pants (sexy!) and headed off just behind the leaders to knock out the final miles.

Caught up with the leaders about ½ mile up Yaupon - man, it’s nice in a group. I’m generally a solo rider, mostly by necessity (when my wife says I have an hour I’m out the door!) but I do feel a bit clumsy in a pack or echelon. That all said, it’s nice having a pace car and somebody to break the wind for you a bit. I gotta say, Noel, Joel, Josh, Dale and Ben were looking pretty spry at this late stage and I wasn’t sure that having caught them was the smartest thing to have done. But, once again, pride took over and locked me onto Josh’s wheel. In the end, it was a good thing I caught up because those guys don’t ride Walnut much and I don’t know if any of them had seen all the new stuff. We wrapped it up in a 6-way finish at 7 hours and 51 minutes. My new best EB time and my first, well first!

The Enchilada Buffet (EB) was rained out multiple times in 2015 and was finally cancelled. After the 2015 season, management changed hands and the Team IPA guys took over. Putting on events is hard, putting on free events seems harder, putting on a free event that 75% of the riders have done before and have strong opinions about the route and rules seems like a real nightmare. That said, they pulled it off with aplomb (and an-orange as well). Thanks guys, really great job.

Trail Angels - you guys make it so much more fun! Huge thanks to the City Park angel (not even sure who you were, I was a bit loopy) who helped me figure out how to get the water out of the closed jug. Thanks to Dawn (and Gracie) for entertaining my kiddos while I slogged through Thumper - those orange slices are life savers!

Last but not least, huge thanks to Phillip at Texas Cycle Werks for keeping me rolling and giving me these sweet new threads!

See everyone next year!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Nutcracker Epic!

The inaugural Nutcracker Epic was a damn fine time. Fifteen hardy souls showed up to spend the bulk of Saturday's daylight hours battling wind and weather. When we started at 7am it was ~41 degrees; I'm not sure if it was ever warmer than 50 the whole day. Couple a 75 mile epic mountain bike ride with those temps and wind gusting up to 25 mph and you've got a challenging day lined up.

We all started off together on the way over to Wilco park.  However, by the time we got a mile or two into the park we realized we'd dropped a few people and our number was down to ten. We wrapped up Wilco park and the ten of us made our way north to Lake Georgetown (LGT) - directly into a 20mph wind. Everyone took a turn or two pulling as we worked the 12 miles north to LGT.

When we arrived at Tejas, we hung around the parking lot for 20 minutes with the guys from Red Horn and Bat City (they had snacks). Andrea headed out immediately, which in retrospect, was probably what I should have done. The ride up had me sweaty, and the wind, my damp clothing, and standing around started me shivering. Eventually the cold usurped my pride and I asked John if I could get into the heated Red Horn short bus to get out of the wind.

Once we got rolling and I did some work to get warmed up, the trail was great. A few spots were slick but 95% of the trail was pristine. About mile 35 Paul got a flat and we all stopped to give him advice. It was at this point we lost Mark (he was out front). Pretty quickly after we stopped, Matt headed out solo to give chase. I waited another 5 minutes or so but started getting cold (shocker) so I headed out behind Matt. I'd ridden the LGT back in 2012 and, surprisingly, remembered a lot of it. Made it to Cedar Brakes (mile 37) and (surprise, surprise) got back in the Red Horn bus and waited for the group to catch up.

I hung out for about 45 minutes (according to my Strava). The guys caught up but Jett had dropped his jacket and they needed to go back and find it. About this time Kyle (riding a hardtail with flat pedals) showed up. He had a crazy look in his eye - turns out he was eating like a ballerina and was about 2000 calories behind where he needed to be. Kyle didn't want to stop for long and he wasn't sure about how to find the trail on the other side of the lake. Since I had a Garmin with a map and I was getting pretty cold, I decided to run point and head out with him. Kyle and Robert rode with me for about 5 miles but we eventually got separated - I'd be solo for the rest of the ride.

Bat City's Vince was waiting at the end of the trail with food and water but by this point it was very overcast and cold. I just gave a quick hello and kept on rolling. I SHOULD have made up some more Infinit (5% off) but, honestly, the water I was mixing was cold and could barely drink it anyway. By this point I should have had between 6 and 8 servings (with the ride, wind, and all the bitch-shivering I was plowing calories like a competitive eater) but I'd only had 4. My lack of willingness to do what I knew I needed to for nutrition would bite me in Brushy, but there was no way I was going to chug 50ml of cold water at that point. On the ride back down south I was actually trying to come up with a way to ask for a hot beer without sounding like a serial killer (pro tip - there ain't one).

The wind on the ride south on Palmer was, frankly, pretty astounding. I was standing up, out of the seat like a kid on a BMX bike, not pedaling a stitch, and maintaining 20 mph on flat ground. Ten miles of minimal pedaling while listening to my knobbies sing me The Song Of MPH was theraputic, make no mistake. Once I got to Brushy Creek my GPS pooped the proverbial bed and I went straight through the light at Brushy.I had to pull a U-Turn and ride back into the wind over the bridge. I'm convinced that 1/4 mile was penance for some past misdeed.

I'd never ridden Brushy before, and my first trip was as fun as it could be, considering it started at mile 70. I cleaned most of the trail but the last mile or two is covered with ledge-ups; those things got an 'I'll ride you next time, buddy' as I'd stumble my cramping hamstrings up to the top and roll over the other side. If I'd have just drank the proper amount of Infinit, cramps wouldn't have been an issue and I could have given the trail proper attention. If I ever do a ride this cold again, I'm bringing some of those little hand warmers and I'll drop them into my camelbak to warm up my drink.

Once I got back to the shop I gave myself a quick 'how's your father' and headed to Red Horn for some free pizza, beer and a t-shirt. Gotta say, a nice hot coffee and some awesome local stout was the perfect finisher for an awesome day.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this possible: AJ Camp of the Peddler Bicycle Shop for having the idea for this beast, John from Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Co. was the bee's knees and kept my skinny ass from freezing to death on more than one occasion, and Vince from Bat City Cycling helped to keep the wheels on and the rides rolling. As always big thanks to my sponsor, Texas Cycle Werks, for all their support throughout the year.

See y'all next year! Oh, here is my Strava Flyby - it's almost as riveting as being there!