This past Saturday, June 1st, I rode the 9th annual Atlas Ride, which is the kickoff ride for the Texas 4000 ride from Austin to Anchorage. The Texas 4000 is the longest charity ride in the world. This year 69 University of Texas students will pedal 4,000 miles in 70 days from Austin to Anchorage following one of three routes – through the Rockies, the Ozarks, or the Sierras. The Ozarks route is new for 2013. The team’s mission is to fundraise, educate and bring hope to those with cancer. It seems like an experience of a lifetime and I’m always impressed by these dedicated young adults. This was my third year riding.
Don’t forget, I’m only two training weekends away from the Bike MS event Ride the Rim that I will participate in out in Canyon, TX on June 22nd. The ride is a 105 mile loop around the Palo Duro Canyon and I can’t wait to finally get to see that part of Texas. This is my 6th Bike MS event. I choose to fundraise for these events in honor of the many people in my life that I know that have been affected by Multiple Sclerosis. Please consider making a donation to the MS Society in support of my participation and to help the MS Society support those living with MS as well as fund valuable research so that someday (soon I hope) a cure is found.
As you probably guessed, I caused myself some relatively mild problems in the grand scheme of things this past weekend. The issue is that I couldn’t just have a single problem, apparently they have to come in sets of three. And to top it all off, my husband was out of town. Since the Atlas ride is a one way ride from Cedar Park to Lampasas, he would normally meet me at the winery where the ride ends and drive me home (awesome, right?). This year I made alternate plans to ride the bus back to Cedar Park and send my bike in the truck donated by UPS. I was nervous about the treatment my bike might receive, so I purchased some foam pipe insulation to protect my bike frame, cut it to size, and packed it in my bag to be transported to Lampasas. So far, so good.
And then it’s Saturday morning. I head out to Cedar Park and get all my stuff ready for my ride. In the course of mounting my GoPro camera to my handlebars, I manage to drop the nut that attaches the camera to the tripod mount. The nice people next to my car help me find it. I get it put back where it belongs and try to tighten the screw. It will not tighten when the camera is in proper position. I later learn that the thumb screw somehow became tilted and is now useless. I can’t take my camera with me on one of the prettiest rides of the season. Strike #1. I’ll just have to take a handful of pictures with my camera. I head out on the ride.
The landscape really is gorgeous. The majority of the route heads north west with some tail wind. There’s a section on the 70 mile route that I was on that turns south east and hits a head wind. I don’t time my rest stops well and almost run out of water before making it to the next stop. The volunteers are super nice and so are the Texas 4000 riders. Twistleaf Yuccas are in bloom EVERYWHERE and they are lovely. I want one for my yard.
The rest stop I was anxiously waiting for was in Burnet. Probably one of the best rest stops I’ve seen on a charity ride – it was at a school stadium, had real restrooms, frozen fruit smoothies, watermelon and lots of other delicious snacks. I parked my bike against the fence like everyone else while I was hanging out and cooling down a bit from the hot ride. I start walking towards my bike. I hear a crash. MY BIKE BLEW OVER IN THE WIND! No one else’s bike did. Apparently it’s just that light. The pedal, brake lever, and shifter are nicked up. I am angry at the wind. Strike #2.
Pulling out of the rest stop, we’ve got the tailwind back thankfully. I’m making record time despite the head wind on the one section. Close to the end, I start to see people riding the 25 mile out and back route that leaves from the winery. I see one young woman followed by her silver-haired father who can’t stop grinning. He reminds me of my dad. In what feels like no time at all, I pull in at the Texas Legato Winery after completing my 70 mile ride averaging 17.8 mph.
I hang out in the tents and shove a baked potato into my mouth. I’m not usually excited about baked potatoes but this one with barbeque sauce, onion and cheese is delicious. Probably the 3,400 calories I burned made all food amazing at that point. I sign up for my bus ride, get the foam tubes installed on my bike frame and the bike loaded into the truck, find the place where you buy frozen “wine-a-ritas” and head to the bus to go home. It’s a school bus.
I get on the school bus, the last one in, and find someone nice enough to let me share a little bench seat with them for the next hour. We strike up a conversation and I learn the gentleman’s wife has had MS since 1994. He thanks me for riding Bike MS events. He’s done 12 Bike MS events himself. I thank him for riding. I learn that his wife is in a scooter chair these days. I can’t imagine what life must be like for them, despite my personal connections to the disease.
We make it back to Cedar Park. They’re unloading our bikes. I start rummaging through my bag for a little pouch containing my car key, driver’s license, credit card, cash, etc. I can’t find it. I empty the bag. It’s not there. STRIKE #3.
I go through my options of getting home in my head. Husband is out of town. Friends that are semi-nearby that could help me are out of town or busy that day. I do NOT want to ride home and then ride back. I ask the remaining cyclists if anyone can give me a ride. I get a ride from a gentleman with an old Jeep Wrangler. He puts my bike on the back of the Jeep and I am terrified it will fall off. During the drive I learn he is also a physicist like my husband and many of our friends. I make it home and my bike is still in one piece. Luckily we have a garage door keypad so I can get back in the house.
I call the winery and let them know what I’ve lost. About 30 minutes later they call me back and tell me my pouch was found. Whew! I put together my plan to get my car back. I could ride 17 miles to get it, but I’m tired, hot and there are many hills on that route. Instead I take the Capital MetroRail from my house up to the Lakeline station. From the Lakeline station, I ride 7 miles to my car, load my bike and drive home. The Lakeline station is quite nice if you’ve never been there.
Sunday, I drive the two and a half hour roundtrip to get my pouch from the winery. At least I have good company.