Don’t you love wind at your back? Really, literally or figuratively, it is a nice feeling to have the wind at your back. Tailwinds let you move either faster or with greater ease. Yesterday’s ride planning was to have a ride with some distance and not necessarily speed. Just getting in the distance without a maximal effort was the idea as a part of my training for the BP MS-150 in mid-April. It was known that there would be some wind. No big deal for a West Texas kid — I’m just proud when there is no dust in the air!
Bynum was out of town and the other usual suspects had plans so I laid out a 60’ish mile route and an 80’ish mile route. You know, just in case I got to the decision point and (a) felt good and (b) the winds were less than hurricane strength. I have to admit that the wind prospect was a bit concerning.
I pedaled away at about 9:45, heading out CR240, commonly known as Mormon Mill Road. It is named for the old mill site originally established and operated by the Mormons long ago. That ride is beautiful when things are blooming but it is all pretty brown this year, still. The ride is pretty easy most of the way with only a few short climbs. It was really easy this time with the nice tailwind. The wind was already 15+ mph and gusty. Once the legs warmed up I was able to crank easily and soon turned onto CR330.
WHAM! Turning South on 330 was an eye opener. You see, tailwinds can be deceptive. I had been cranking along downwind for 14 miles and did not appreciate how hard the wind was blowing. Suddenly I knew, and immediately had second thoughts about the wisdom of the day’s adventure. Tailwinds: what goes around, comes around. As I approached the train trestle underpass I honestly thought about aborting when suddenly the gusts abated — as if God was saying push on — and I took new heart and pressed onward.
Coming off of CR330 and turning onto RR243 toward Bertram returned the tailwind for me. At one point I was cruising at about 25mph UPHILL! The sky was still filled with puffy, darkish clouds — once again teasing the possibility of rain but there would be none.
Bertram, only a few miles up the road now, has a place that Don Bynum and I usually stop. The Hungry Moose just happens to have a full case of Blue Bell ice cream. I felt it tugging at me, but knew that the tailwinds would turn into headwinds — what goes around comes around, remember — and I should not dally here.
As I wheeled into Bertram I turned my head away from the “Moose” and turned the pedals past the police station (always hate running that stop sign next to the PD!) and turned Northward again, crossing the RR tracks next to the old Bertram depot.
Just a bit up 243 and onto CR272 which turns into CR200 and the tailwinds remained favorable. For 15 miles, including a good bit of gradual uphill, I averaged 17-18 mph without having to push myself very hard. It was nice, but what goes around ….
On CR200, just prior to descending a hill that we hate when coming the other direction, I ran across this pasture with horses grazing. I especially liked the juxtaposition of the Texas flag (note that it is a full attention!) and the horses.
and turn up CR210 headed toward RR963. Still enjoying the tailwinds I was spinning easily at about the 1/2 way point as I cruised almost effortlessly up the gradual grade of 210. I passed a woman opening a ranch gate when a dog in her car started barking as I went by. The tires of the Scattante bike roll smoothly and quietly and the woman did not hear or see me and was glancing about trying to figure out why the dog was barking. I chuckled and waved when she finally saw me.
At the intersection of 210 and 963 I stopped for another energy gel, and my banana, and a few extra sips of water. It was a decision point as I stood beside the bike on this highest point anywhere around there. If I was going to extend into the 80 mile ride, I would turn right. To stay on the main course, it is a left turn. I did enjoy the view as I sucked down the carbs and contemplated my future several hours.
I turned left. The wind was stronger and gustier and the thought of adding not only 20 miles, but quite a few headwind miles, made no sense. Cranking down 963 proved to be hard. Very hard. The wind was a quartering headwind with a huge crosswind component. Gusts would move me a couple of feet so I had to stay away from the road’s edge.
I made it to Burnet and went to the office where Sheila rescued me with two wonderful carrot cake muffins! Those, more water, my apple, and another gel shot and I was soon off again. For some reason my Garmin FR305 broke the ride into two activities there, I guess based on my extended stay.
Whereas I had struggled on 963, stopping at the crest of most hills to let the legs recover, Mormon Mill Road treated me a little better. That part of the route was primarily a mind-control endeavor to maintain a moderate, and restrained pace because I knew what would be at the end of the route: The Beast of Mormon Mill Road. I did enjoy this old oak tree that has a lot of character. It has to be a lot older than I and I wondered what it had seen pass by in all of its years.
Soon The Beast would appear. A few more small climbs and a few nice downhill runs intervened and then, there it was.
From down here, it really does not look too mean and nasty, but near the crest it is at 16% grade. I had been thinking about this hill for a while now and was determined at least to attempt the climb. Approaching it I was 63 miles into the ride and the legs were shaky. In the past I would take a bit of run at it, but this time I approached her with a measured pace. Then it began. After the gradual approach the hill steepens rapidly. Quickly, I am down in my lowest gear trying to be sure to apply smooth power to the pedals through their entire rotation. The shoes fastened into the clipless pedals allow this and the rider is able to apply two sets of muscles to the effort. Burning muscles, that is. The pain quickly increased to an intense level but I was still moving. Slowly. Very slowly. I tried to focus on the road just ahead, not looking up to the crest. Cranking harder and harder, the saddle creaking and my body groaning, I was actually slowing further. I was beginning to doubt my ability to make it and began talking myself through it and into it. Amazingly, the wind was still smacking me in the face even in the lee of the hill. Suddenly (figuratively and relatively speaking):
Here is the elevation profile of the Burnet to Marble Falls leg:
The first 52 miles had its own ups and downs! This was a hard ride. 66 total miles with half of it either fighting the wind or being pummeled by it. Enjoy the tailwinds when you have them. What goes around comes around.
The summaries look like this: