Okay, I actually have a lot more words (and pictures), but that is what comes to mind first.
How cold, you ask? Well according to Sig it was 10 below. Yes indeed. 10 below HER COMFORT LEVEL!!
Actually, it was 48.5F at start time, according to my bike computer. I realize that's not cold for some of you, but it's freakin' cold for us down here in South Texas. I actually wore long pants to ride in, and that's practically unheard of.
Shan, AM, and I sat in my car for a while waiting for things to get started - or warm up a little - then we got out and started putting our gear together. Yeah, it was chilly. I was beginning to regret wearing a sleeveless vest over my shirt, but was very glad I had my long pants. My feet were NOT happy, though. I may be investing in shoe covers and arm warmers in the near future. I completely forgot I had a LIVESTRONG ear warmer sitting in a drawer at home. Darn it.
We went over to the staging area to wait for the start and that's when Sig discovered something was wrong with her rear wheel. She said she could feel a tugging as we were walking the bikes over to the staging area, so I sent her over to Wally's (a local bike shop that had set up a support shop) to see if they could figure out the problem (I was watching AM's bike, because she had wisely gone inside the Texas Oncology building while I stood outside and shivered).
She came back, and the verdict was a slightly bent wheel. Double crap. We both stood and stared at it as though by staring we could fix it, and I asked Sig what the guys at Wally's had recommended. She said the guy she spoke to said she could probably finish the ride, but he couldn't guarantee how safe it would be. Trooper that she is, she decided to go for it. He had made some kind of adjustment to keep the rim from rubbing the brake pad so we figured it would be okay for 20 miles.
One of the anchormen from the local news stopped buy with a video camera and asked us a few questions. I was happy to be able to give a shout out to my friend Joyce, in whose honor I was riding. I'm taping the news tonight to see if we made the cut! Exciting!
The ride was about to start and naturally, I had to pee. Being cold didn't help, either, but there was no time so I took off with the rest of the bunch. The start wasn't terribly organized - everyone pretty much just took off once the opening ceremonies and speeches were done, but the local HOG Chapter (Harley Owners Group) led the way on their motorcycles and that was fun.
BOY, am I out of shape. I couldn't find a comfortable gear and my legs and feet were cold. My fingers were cold, too, but I could deal with that. I just wished I had taken some time to ride these past two weeks because I was hurtin' almost immediately. Being out of shape sucks.
Things got better as I warmed up, then Sig had a problem with her wheel and we stopped to fix it. She managed to adjust things so the wheel didn't rub and we kept on going. AM had dropped us long ago, but stopped at a rest stop to wait for us so it didn't take a very long time for us to catch up to her. Next thing I knew Sig was saying we were halfway done, and that gave me a little burst of energy. The three of us stopped to take a short break and eat some Sport Beans and Gu (both of which were very cold and hard to chew, but tasted soooo good), then off we went again.
The last 10 miles weren't as tough as the first until we got to the Hill from Hell (mentioned in a previous post), which is Sig's nemesis. I got up the hill and stopped at a red light, and when I turned around to check for Sig I was VERY happy to see she was riding up behind me! This is the same hill she had to walk up the last time we rode that way, so it was exciting to see her be able to ride it. Way to go, Sig!
The finish line was about two miles of flat road from the top of the hill so it didn't take us much longer to get there. As we were walking back to the car to put the bikes on the rack, we noticed a HUGE barbecue pit and two guys grilling hot dogs. My mouth immediately started watering and I realized how hungry I was at about the same time Sig said she was starving. We got the bikes all locked up and went over to where the hot dogs were being served. Some very nice folks from a local church were in charge of the food and had the hot dogs in buns and ready to go with all the trimmings, so we had ourselves a spot of lunch inside the building before taking off.
On the way back to my house, we decided to stop in at the LBS and see what could be done about Sig's bike. I thought maybe it just needed to be put on a truing stand and aligned again.
Good thing I'm not a bike mechanic! As it turns out, the back hub is cracked and she (well, her bike) has two broken spokes. Yikes! It's just damn lucky her wheel didn't fall apart along the ride - that could've been really scary!
Anyway, she's going to look into ordering a new wheelset so that means she's off the bike until she takes care of that. Bummer. Glad she didn't end up getting hurt, though.
Here are some photos from the ride:
For Joyce, baby!
Riding in memory of his mom
Overall, the ride itself was pretty good, what I could see of it through my watering eyes and runny nose. Well, I guess my runny nose didn't exactly affect my eyesight, but you know what I mean. I will definitely be doing it again next year!