I'm For Bikes!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

LIVESTRONG 2010: Pre-Ride Report

It's been a week since I rode the 45 mile 2010 LIVESTRONG Cycling Challenge and this is literally the first real opportunity I've had to sit down and write about it. I have a lot to say and a lot of photos to share, so I decided to make this a three part "series" - pre-ride, ride, and post-ride. Lots of stuff to share!

PRE-RIDE:

I was so tired on Friday night after I got home from work that I didn't do anything but laundry. I wanted to make sure I had enough clothes but I also wanted to make sure I had clothes for work on Tuesday. Exciting, huh? That's me, just a ball of fire.

Packing the bike bag

Saturday morning was spent running errands, getting my Xterra an oil change, packing, etc. I had my lists of stuff for the bike bag and the clothes bag, then had to make a decision about whether or not to put my Lexa on the bike rack or let her ride in the car with us.

Bike bag, clothes bag, camera bags

Ultimately I decided she'd be more comfortable on the bike rack, so I loaded her up and got ready to go.

Lexa in her bike cradle

I had planned to leave at around noon and that was pretty much the schedule I kept. Sig came along again as well, as my personal photographer and cheerleader (if you don't have one of these for your rides/runs/races, GET ONE!!), and it was awesome to have the company. I'm not sure I could do a ride like this without someone as awesome as she is.

On the road again!

The 6 hr. ride to Austin was uneventful....that is, until my niece, who was taking care of my critters, called and told me she didn't have a key to the house. Oops. She was right - I hadn't bothered to give her one because I knew her mom had one. Apparently they gathered up every key in their house and tried them, but none worked. Oops again. Things got sorted out just fine, but it was a bit stressful for a while there.

Regarding the hotel, let me backtrack a little here. I searched and searched for a hotel fairly close to the event venue, but most of them either got horrible reviews or were way too expensive. Doing this ride is not cheap. There's a $250 minimum fundraising level per cyclist, plus all the expenses incurred as far as travel, lodging, meals, etc. In light of this, I was looking for a fairly cheap non-roach motel within a decent driving distance.

From hotel to event site, +/- 20 miles. Not bad.

I lucked upon Extended Stay America on Hwy 290 (which led us right to the event site). I read many mixed reviews about this hotel, but let me tell you, the stay was very pleasant. Apparently this is a hotel people go to when they are in town for an extended time (hence the name, duh!) or can't be in their house/apartment for a while, so there are actually people living there temporarily. It can make for interesting neighbors, I suppose. I liked it because it was fairly cheap (I even sweet-talked the clerk into giving me a pretty good discount), the room was clean, it was very quiet, and it was only 20 miles from the event site. My bike fit in the elevator (a big plus) and the shower had really decent water pressure (an even bigger plus). I could have dealt with having to lug my bike up three flights of stairs, but wimpy water pressure is NOT acceptable. Aside from stepping in someone's spilled beer in the elevator, the hotel was a good place to be.

Extended Stay America on 290. Nice.

After we checked in, we went in search of something to eat. We were about to settle for Wendy's when I realized I didn't have any small bills, so we hunted for a place where I could buy something small with a big bill. We lucked upon an Academy Sporting Goods store and stopped in there to see what fun things could be found. I ended up with a new pair of Thorlo socks and got Sig a cool Aussie hat to shade her from the sun while she was taking photos during the event. We then happened upon a totally awesome restaurant called "Texadelphia", which served me and amazing avocado burger and Sig a cheesesteak that was apparently to die for. Yum!

Texadelphia. Way cool place to eat.

I spent the rest of the evening getting my stuff ready for Sunday. I couldn't decide for sure which shorts and shirt I wanted to wear, so I brought a couple of different choices. There was also the matter of just how much stuff Sig was willing to carry in the backpack. I really wanted a change of shorts and shoes available after I finished, but that meant she would have to either carry all of that around or take a shuttle back to the car to get stuff before I returned. In the end, we got everything packed to our liking and it was sleepytime. I tried not to think about what was ahead of me, to just relax and get some rest, but it was hard. I think I finally drifted off at around 11:30pm.

All set for the big ride

RIDE DAY (part 1):

I woke up with a jolt at 4:00, deathly afraid I had overslept and was going to be late or not make it at all. I checked the time on my phone and saw I still had an hour to sleep, but of course I couldn't get back to sleep. I tossed and turned a bit more before deciding to just get up and start getting ready. I figured it wouldn't hurt things if we got to the site earlier than planned. Good thing we left earlier, because it took a lot longer for us to get there than I thought.

To be continued...

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