Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Team Fatty Rocks the Austin LiveStrong Challenge - Sunday

Note from Steve: This is part 3 of the LiveStrong Weekend series, Friday's events (Part 1) can be found here, Saturday's events (Part 2) can be found here. The entire inventory of pictures is here.

Visit www.fatcyclist.com for all things Fatty. Paul's super writeup about the LiveStrong weekend is hereAlso, read Pam & Tracy's experiences in the Run/Walk and Ride, and then looking back.

~82.5 miles now
Sunday brought on the main event for Team Fatty, the Challenge Ride.  As usual, it took place in the Texas Hill County, with the start/finish in Dripping Springs.  It's about 25 miles WSW of Austin, and with 1000s of people headed that way, the road gets a little busy. Well, a lot busy. And you want to be on time, or early, or beyond early. Yes, you have to wake up at some ridiculous hour.  And then drive an hour or so. And then park somewhere not at the event. I chose my "non official but close enough and always has space" location (which shall remain secret). 

I left the bike in commute mode, with rack and fenders, lights (3 forward and 2 back) and my Acorn Roll bag. They may add a pound or two or so, I don't think it really makes any difference, other than to the people that think it makes a difference. Maybe on steep hills. I think the reflective sidewalls are awesome.

Torn up jersey
After arriving at the venue, I found the Team Fatty tent (stocked by Tim the prior day). Several other team members were already present, prepping for the ride. I brought my semi-destroyed Fatty jersey from my bad crash last year (the front side is held together with 10 safety pins), to place at the tent to help any stray Team Fatty members.

Here's a quick look around. Really, broke a cleat?

Here's the crew just before staging. A fine looking bunch, at least that's what they told me to say, something about headlocks and punches to the throat if I didn't.
Jeremy, Tim, Steve, Sasha, Pam, Tracy
Unknown Fatty

During staging I spied this guy, an unknown Fatty, anyone hazard a guess on the vintage of that jersey? Looks to be a classic.

That's fog in the distance
Foggy, hard to tell though
The ride started in the early morning sun, with a pleasant temperature in the upper 60s. And then, out of nowhere, fog, lots of fog. It's not been foggy for 6 months. With the fog and no climbing for several miles, it was cold. Well, maybe not cold, but cool, well maybe something between cool and cold. Not a huge deal, but you're dressed for warm to hot temperatures, so a bit unpleasant. Probably except for riders from Alaska. Fellow riders were asking "Where's a hill, I want to climb and warm up". That's not something riders normally want. Unless they have Schleck or Contador in their name.

The ride was uneventful, working my way through other riders. The one exception is the occasional cattle guards across the road.  Skinny road bike tires don't really absorb any of the bumps.  More than a few people lost water bottles, CO2 cartridges, and at least one frame pump!

I generally skip the first couple rest stops since it tends to be overcrowded. My first stop was at a themed stop, I'll hazard a guess that Dell volunteers worked it. There was even a small pool table just to the left. I did not see any leather clad riders though (that's a really good thing!).

Nice smooth road
Once past Wimberly, the road turns to the west toward Blanco, and from past Challenges, I knew the road would be miles and miles of rougher than usual chipseal. To my surprise and delight, the bulk of the road was resurfaced with nice, new asphalt. Given how poor the roads can be, this was greatly appreciated. During the trip toward Blanco, I has a duel with 'Mr. Power Meter Hub', well, not much of a duel, I passed him on an uphill, he passed me on a downhill, then I again passed him on an uphill, and that was that. Me and my "slow "commuter setup rocked Mr. PMH !

Just past Blanco is the rest stop hosted by the Texas 4000 crew, a great group of kids who ride from Austin to Anchorage (yea, Alaska!) each summer to raise funds to fight cancer. It's actually closer to 4,500 miles, quite a feat.

Texas 4000 crew

They really have a good time!

This rest stop is the westernmost extent of the ride, turning back to the east for the long ride back  It's mostly rollers with occasional significant hills. The riders tend to be spaced out widely so it's not surprising to be alone or almost alone on the road. I passed that guy going up that hill.

The route was modified this year to not travel on US 290, thus the initial part of route was retraced in the opposite direction toward the end of the ride. Remember I mentioned how chilly it was since it was mostly downhill past the start? Now, of course, it was all uphill. It did not seem to be quite as steep heading back to the Finish though. Phew! However, it also meant passing over all the cattle guards again. Bumpy! The semi-official count was 22. That's 22 too many.

Not too much further and I reached the Finish, where I relaxed and watched for other Fatties to arrive. Oh, and I got a shoutout from the announcers as I arrived! I'm semi-famous! Or so I think. The Fatty tent was adjacent to the S/F line, thus it was easy to check if someone snuck past me.  Once enough of us were back, we went over to the food and beer tents to get a well deserved drink and lunch, thus year, chicken & beef tacos, chips, and pico.

I had my best effort yet, here's the GPS trace of the route. I was out ahead of the rest of the Fatty crew. I tend to have just one speed, sometimes a good thing, sometimes bad.

And with that, another long and tiring, but eminently satisfying LiveStrong Weekend came to a close. Now, just a few more weeks until 2012 registration opens. Can't wait!

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