...is basically, "something else".
I woke at 5:30 that morning.
I did my usual routine, but packed extra supplements and what not.
When I get there, I am blown away by the amount and diversity of starters.
A carbon Pinarello with super 11, a sweet 84'ish Pinarello, a recumbent, mountain bikes, hybrids, a pair of rando bikes, even a tandem or two.
I was lucky to run into AS, before the start.
He and I had never attempted the TdH nor a century ride.
We admitted our nervousness, but also psyched-up each other about the glory of finishing.
The start was a familiar one, we headed out to 360 via rolling wood.
Before hitting the bridge, we take a right turn on to westlake, and the fun starts.
Toro canyon, High rd., Terrace Mtn. These are things my buddy MC introduced me to a while ago on my first real hill ride. Thanks dude.
At about mile 16 we have our first rest stop. Impressive stuff. The back of the car was stuffed with everything you could need.
Citrus, pickles, bananas, Clif bars, electrolyte drinks, PB&J, and most importantly, supporters.
These people were great. Fantastic in their food and moral support.
After that stop we head out on bee caves to put some miles in, and luckily we headed out on the Cuernavaca loop. If you haven't been, its beautiful. No serious hills, nice windy roads with great scenery and awesome trees.
Barton creek was the next major hill, and great girl-scout supported stop was waiting for us.
Lost creek was the last hill on the first lap, and we headed back to the start/finish.
Plenty of people had the goal of doing the first lap, and called it a day. Some people realized a second lap was just not going to happen for them, and they left with more hunger for next year. Some people said "well I've gone this far, might as well keep on goin". Yes, that was a Forrest Gump reference.
Heading out on Stratford, we headed to Mt. Bonnell along scenic drive.
Ahh, Mt. B.
Familiar grounds. I have ridden with folks out here many times. I did repeats on it to train. It felt great.
Next, we headed to Laderna Norte.
I was introduced to this bad boy just as I was committing to do this thing. When I did Laderna for the first time, It hit me how crazy, and crazy cool the Hugel may be. Thanks CC.
They did pull a quick one on us though, we didn't just go straight up Laderna. We first went down below it to meet this absolute beast of a side street called Smokey Valley. This thing is straight mental. It is short, but maxing out at 25% gradient made some people dismount for the first time. I overhead a person telling their riding partner, "that's it, I'm out, I got off...". Now, that is not any official rule. That was his personal decision based on a personal goal. More on that later.
Right after that, you are basically in the middle of LN and its go time. It was very tough pulling those two hills. Very tough.
The third stop was soon after at a awesome supporter's home. Again, all the good stuff you need to live through the odyssey.
I think this was where we joined a gang of woolly mammoth riders. The team is made up of a few current/ex messengers and a couple other weirdos (in the good way).
We hit 360 again to get out to the Beauford and Courtyard hills. I don't remember which one it was, but one of the roads was in the process of repavement. EDIT: A commenter noted that Beauford has been in this textured state for the past 2-3 years and not being repaved. It was highly textured and was tough, tough climb. That type of surface make it feel like your power is going nowhere.
Riverplace was the last hill before rest stop number four.
This place was more like a rest resort.
In addition to what was at the other awesome stops, this one had potato wedges, a ton of water melon, many chairs, plenty shade, and the pickle juice guy.
Improv Product Review: Pickle Juice Sport
Photo from Drumsing's photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21815235@N00/
Many people have heard that pickle juice prevents/stops cramping. Its the sodium and electrolytes and such.
Well, an enterprising young man took the idea and formulated a impressively palatable pickle sports drink.
These drinks have around 15 times the electrolytes/minerals (salt, potassium, zinc) of most "sports drinks".
At some point I did feel a mouse running around in my right thigh, but I gave this stuff a try and it was gone pretty soon. I'm pretty sure I drank three bottles of that stuff on Saturday. The guys I was riding with also drank the stuff and were impressed that it really did stop a starting cramp, or prevented them from cramping when they normally would have.
I have to say, I am sold. I'll be glad to buy this Texas company's drink.
Also, the rep/owner? of PJ sport was a very cool dude.
He'd make sure he found a nice cold one and got that bad boy opened with bartender-like speed and agility.
He ran around picking up people's empties and offered smaller to-go bottles just in case you ran into trouble before the next stop.
Then it was out to Mansfield dam. We went cyclo-crossing on some weird path under a bridge to a low water crossing that apparently can flash flood at anytime without warning.
We took RM 620 back to the rest resort. It was a long, but not so steep hill.
Photo from Drumsing's photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21815235@N00/
More food, more PJ sport.
I was worried about overdoing the PJ, but it turns out I would be pretty helpful on the next hill.
At the top of a smaller hill, N and I kinda got the ants in the pants. Our group was separating pretty often now, so we decided to go on and finish the last two.
Big view was pretty bad. At 88 miles we descended a few hundred feet only to u-turn at the bottom. At the bottom, there is a pretty clear view of street and you could see the insane grade. I had a flash of fear, but there was no way I was going to go this far and quit. Id say it was the hardest one of them all due to the miles already covered, the gradient/length, and the mental aspect of being able to see almost the entire climb from the bottom. The other hills did not have a view like that.
Alright, now all we have is "just" jester...
Jester at mile 93 sounds pretty tough. It was tough, but N and I were pretty amped at this point. Also we had some cool supporters cheering us on on the final climb. It also didn't hurt that there was a photographer it one of the tougher sections. A camera lens focused on you can feel like a supplement.
Previous three pictures from Onefiftyfour's photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/onefiftyfour/
I get a little chill.
I can really smell that fresh screen-print paint on the Hugel shirt now.
All we have is 360, which does have the bee caves hill, which is a little somethin' somethin'.
We didn't baby our way home. We both felt good and excited about getting back and finishing. I have a real love for the stretch of 360 that we took to get back, and we rode strong all the way till the end.
Beer time. I run to a store on Barton springs road to get a Modelo and some cash for the shirt donation.
The rest of the crew shows up one by one with smiles.
We hang out and sit on a guardrail and chat about the day for a bit. Never did a guardrail feel so much like a lay-z-boy.
Pretty soon, it was all "great riding with you" and "cya later".
I ride home, making a day total of 130 miles.
Before passing out around 9pm, I chatted with family and friends about my day and started trying to shrink my Hugel shirt a bit. I also finished leftovers from my pre-Hugel dinner.
Now to some random thoughts about the ride, or that came to me during the ride.
I liked how the ride made for many different possible goals for different people.
Some looked for lap one and nothing more.
Some wanted to simply finish the whole deal somehow.
Some wanted to finish first.
Everyone had the choice of how to make their sundae.
I made mine without changing the bike (gears) for the ride's challenges. I decided to not walk at any point, and do every one straight up, with no zig zagging. That is how I wanted it, and I got it.
I really really hope that gentleman that hit the wall on smokey valley gets his sundae next year.
Ok I have a few people to thank for sure. My various riding partners of course. The cycling and non-cycling people that dared me / encouraged me / pushed me / taunted me to do this challenge. The people that put this mental thing on including all support people. The gang I rode with that day. The fellas at the bike shop that introduced me to this wide world of cycling and enabled me to learn so much about bikes and the cycling life. My bike performed excellently and safely because of what I learned. I saw a few people have problems that had them come to stops.
Now to reflect how my cycling life has come to this. As a tri-cyclist (road,mtb,cross), I learned skills that really helped me complete this. My road biking gave me endurance and form. My SS mountain biking gave me power and taught me how important it is to get "on top" of your gear and never stop cranking. Cross taught me how to suffer while delivering.
In the end, I will concluded that the Tour Das Hugel was a life changing/affirming event. If not the Das Hugel, make sure you do things in your life that combine a serious physical/mental challenge. You will feel the edge, you will forget all else in the world, you will feel very very human.