Part of Team Fatty. From left: Jeremy, Tim, Steve, Sasha, Pam, Tracy.
Not Pictured: Jeff, Adam, Paul
Our early morning drive from downtown Austin to Dripping Springs went off without a hitch. Once we had parked and made our way to the Team Fatty tent, it didn’t take long before a few other Fatty’s showed up. Interestingly, we managed to find everybody else throughout the course of the day except Paul. I’m not sure if anybody else found him or not.
This guy was behind us in the staging area. He was going to ride the entire 90 mile route with this poodle strapped to his chest. It was odd to see, and I just thought, “To each his own”. Interestingly, when we looked at the picture we noticed a lady in the background wearing a Fat Cyclist jersey. We didn’t know her or the other couple of folks we noticed wearing them throughout the day.
We had a nice streamer of cards hanging from the back of the tandem for part of the ride. We noticed at about 45 miles that we had lost the bottom one. Sorry Dad.
We had heard so much said about how hilly the course would be that we were a little worried. We were definitely the odd ducks out there on our old steel tandem with all the blinged- up, go-fast bikes. My strategy going into the ride was simple: Stay out of trouble during the first few miles of congestion and try to ride smart on the hills to be sure we didn’t blow up before we finished. We were successful on both counts.
After Lance’s opening remarks and a presentation of a big check by Team Radioshack, we were finally off just about on time. I think the temperature was supposed to be 63 degrees, but with some hanging fog and nice down hills in the first couple of miles, it sure felt cooler than that.
As we began to break free of the heavier bike traffic, we started encountering what would be the bane of Pam’s existence for the day. Yep, cattle guards. Twenty-two of them. Even when she tried to post up as we crossed them, the back of the bike was somehow still slapping her in the rear-end. By the end of the day, she was downright sick of the things and I don’t blame her!
We had a pretty decent downhill run for the first 23 miles. We were charging along with the fast guys, pulling a couple of trains for a while, but we found that we could pretty much drop them with ease. Bike traffic was still kind of congested, so we were riding the yellow line the most of time as the picture above shows. Luckily, traffic was nearly non-existent, so it wasn’t a problem. Since the first two rest-stops were placed so closely together, we blew past them and stopped for the first time at around 23 miles.
It was run by “Dells Angels”, and definitely earned the honor of the best rest stop of the day. It was supposed to be set up to represent a bikers bar, complete with “free shots”, pool tables and a bar.
We had passed one tandem with an older couple on it whom we guessed were riding one of the shorter distances, and there was a Co-Mo parked here that we never saw again, so we think we may have been the only tandem to ride the long route.
The ride took a turn up at this point. We began what amounted to a twenty-five mile series of rollers that made us work for every bit of forward motion we made. About half-way through this section, we knew the 65 and 90 mile routes would split and we needed to be past that point by 11:00.
As we pulled into the rest stop at the split, this little girl was agape at our bike. We could tell she was there as a volunteer bike holder, so Pam asked her if she wanted to be in charge of ours. She readily agreed, but we thought she was probably getting tired of holding the thing up by the time we got our bottles filled and were ready to leave. We made it past the split with about 20 minutes to spare.
Being the only tandem in the field of single bikes after the split was a little frustrating for a while. We were mostly grinding uphill on 3-7% grades, which meant a speed that was mostly bordering on 10 mph. We got passed by a lot of singles during that stretch. We took advantage of the few down-hills we could to regain some ground on them, but by the time we got to the Blanco rest stop we were feeling tired and figured most of the faster guys were in front of us.
The funniest thing happened after we left that rest stop. We were absolutely alone for the longest time. We couldn’t see anyone in front of us and nobody passed us. It was just us and the scrub brush.
Pam was worrying that we had taken the wrong road out of Blanco, but we both knew she had mentioned seeing the route confirmation. Eventually, we started catching a few groups, and a few groups would catch us on the rollers.
We still had enough in the tank that we were bombing the down-hills but the up-hills were long enough that we ended up climbing at or below 10 mph quite a bit. We probably played hop-scotch with 75 riders during the last 35 miles. We would blow by them heading down, and eventually they would catch us again as we went up. Such is the life on a tandem!
At the 62ish mile rest stop, we had a Team Fatty reunion of sorts. There were four of us there. We got to meet Adam for the first time and Tim was there.
After that rest stop, it was kind of interesting and fun that we were feeling the home stretch and not letting very many people ride away from us. We were still riding rollers, with the exception of one pretty steep little climb where we saw a lady trying to slalom her way up. She was taking up the entire road and was being a downright hazard until she finally gave up and stopped nearly in front of us.
As we were climbing the final hill of the day, we passed this guy. Of course, Pam talks to him as we go by and get’s a pretty cute response from him. I told him he was doing a great job and gave him a hand-bump!
Needless to say, I think he got a pretty big kick out of that!
We crossed the finish line at a total time of 6:08, with a riding time of 5:12. They actual course mileage ended up being only 82.75, and we climbed 4,594 feet.
We gathered with some of our fellow Fatty’s for a while at the tent, grabbed a bite to eat, then thanked our teammates for a great ride. We only just met, but I now consider them to be friends!
Here’s the GPS track for the day.