Bike MS training update #7: Wait, how far did I just ride?

Unintentionally, this weekend became my first 100+ mile bike training weekend of the season. Unintentionally because my training plan (and what I planned in my head) had me riding 90 – 95 miles this weekend. Instead, I finished at 106 miles.

Now, if you’re asking yourself why I would subject myself to riding more than 100 miles in the hottest Texas weekend so far this year, the answer is that I’m training for Bike MS: Pedal to the Point in August. For the past 5 years I’ve ridden in one of these events to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society because the disease has affected a number of people in my life throughout the years. Each year it seems I learn of another friend or family member touched by the disease. I hope that researchers can find a cure for MS. I’ve kicked off my fundraising, as I do every year, by personally donating to the MS Society. If you are able, please also consider making a donation to the society. They use the money to provide programs and services to people living with MS as well to fund cutting-edge research.

So, back to my weekend training shenanigans. On Saturday morning, at 6:40 am (!!) I set out on my bike. I left as early as I could drag myself out of bed because I knew it would be hot hot hot. At 6:40, it was amazingly pleasant outside. In fact, the ride overall on Saturday wasn’t nearly as hot as I expected. I started north on Parmer Lane with the intention of doing a “Dam Loop”, a route that is damn hilly and passes the Mansfield Dam out by Lake Travis. This past week my hamstring has been bothering me and after about 10 miles out Parmer, I decided not to make the turn out towards the dam.  Instead, I decided to ride out to Andice, TX which involves hills, but less of them. To get to Andice, you have to ride to the end of Parmer Lane and then make a turn on to ranch road 2338.

Good morning, sun!

A stream seen from a bridge

On my way to the end of Parmer, I made friends with a nice gentleman and we chatted about different bike rides we done. He is training for the Hotter ‘n Hell 100 which lives up to its name from what I hear.  We split ways at the end of Parmer Lane when I turned out towards Andice. At that point, my odometer read 30 miles, I knew I needed water, and was pretty sure Andice wasn’t too far down the road where I could replenish at the general store. Sigh. Andice was more than 5 miles away.

The Andice General Store in my sight!

And more importantly, it was CLOSED. Austin cyclists: the Andice General Store opens at 8 am M – F and 10 am on the weekend. I was there at 9 am. Right after I pulled up, a large group of cyclists from the team in training showed up, also mightily disappointed. Luckily, someone found a spicket on the back of the building that I reluctantly used to fill my bottle. There really isn’t any other water source for many many miles.

Oh Andice General Store, how you have forsaken me.

Instead of turning around and going back directly the way that I came, I knew that there were back roads that would get me back to Parmer Lane. They were quite pleasant to ride on with almost no traffic and lots of shade.

A nice smooth, shady road.

One of the best parts of riding on Saturday was the very minimal wind I encountered. Even when the headwind started to pick up on my way back, it was still minimal and actually necessary to keep me cool-ish. It was just a great morning for riding in Austin. I ended up riding 69 miles for the day, a bit longer than I expected.

Someone turned off the wind!

Later that afternoon we went to the packet pickup for the Urban Assault Ride put on by New Belgium Brewing and stopped for a delicious treat at Bananarchy. Chocolate covered frozen bananas with toppings? Yes, please!

A well deserved amazingly delicious treat

And that brings me to Sunday’s ride. My husband and I participated in the Austin Urban Assault Ride. Last year’s Urban Assault Ride was about 18 miles when we finished. In order to get extra miles in, I rode the 13 miles to the start line at Fiesta Garden Park. To do this, I left at 6:20 am. It was noticeably hotter and more humid than Saturday despite the sun not even being up yet.

The ride is a lot of fun. You have to ride to different checkpoints and perform obstacles in order to collect a bead that proved that you completed that obstacle. You also have to figure out the location of two mystery checkpoints. The obstacles included fun things like riding a bike while catching loops with a foam sword, jumping into a pool and collecting rubber duckies, riding an adult big wheel, and sitting on a skateboard and being towed by a bike. The husband and I were able to easily figure out mystery point 1, where we got the clue for mystery point 2. I thought I knew the second mystery point but was wrong, leading us to check a few locations before figuring it out. Also, we somehow skipped a checkpoint on our ride and had to back track to avoid a huge penalty. Because of our failures, I ended up riding 37 miles for the day, also longer than I had planned. Oh well, we did have beer at the finish line. Next year we hope our friends / partners in crime for the UAR will be riding with us again.

Everyone lined up and ready to race!

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