Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Outlaw Trail 100

This weekend I did the Outlaw Trail 100. This is a very well organized and supported ride. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to get some good mileage in without having to worry about food, water, mechanical issues or routes. Actually for most cyclists or triathletes these types of rides can be a good test of fitness as race season approaches or they can be casual base building affairs. And as I've indicated here in the Austin area this is a very good ride. These folks do it right. I've done this ride for about 10 years and I've never been disappointed. The day before the race at packet pick up there is a free pasta dinner for ride participants. The tee shirts are usually long-sleeved due to the time of year. The routes change from year to year largely due to road closures and development, but the courses are always clearly marked. There were signs designating every thing from direction, to gravel, to the conditions of water crossings. Aid stations were spaced approximately every 10 to 12 miles or so. SAG wagons (city pickups and local bike shop vans with racks), Bicycle Sport Shop mobile mechanics, and several motorcycle patrols radioing rider status were all visible throughout the ride.

My friend Karen and I chose to do the 100k. For me this ride was to be a completely aerobic effort. I had my heart rate monitor set for a threshold of 151 bpm. This is approximately 15bpm below my aerobic threshold. The ride was set to start in waves beginning at 8:00 AM. Unfortunately, because I got off work at 7:00 AM on Saturday morning, we were about 45 minutes late starting. This really didn't concern me, however. I looked at it as a blessing because it made riding my own pace easier for me.

The first half of the ride was windless and the skies clear, the air cool. A great morning for some base training. It also allowed us to keep the pace high because my heart rate stayed pretty low. We skipped the first 3 rest stops because of this and had ridden about 50k in 1:30. The course wasn't completely flat. It had some pretty gentle rollers and long straights so keeping this pace wasn't difficult. At least it wasn't until the front came in. That's when the 25 mph winds kicked up. From this point on the course and day that had been so pleasant was now a complete nightmare. It was so bad that my friend Karen, who is normally quite engaging and chatty, was pretty silent except to point how much it sucked riding into the wind. About the same time the wind came into play so did the climbs. Over the first 50k, my heart rate averaged about 135 bpm. Over the last 50k all I heard was the incessant beeping of the monitor just above the roaring wind.

Unlike the first half of the ride, we stopped at each of the last 3 rest stops to fill our bottles and stretch our legs a bit. I was pretty good at eating on a schedule. About every 45 minutes or so I had a bar and at the rest stops I ate oranges and bananas. I don't normally ride with sports drinks because I don't drink them. (Perhaps I should clarify that. I do drink them if they are all natural. I just don't drink gatorade, powerade, or any of the other common "ades" on the market). For rides lasting over 4 hours I drink Ultima. Unfortunately because the water at the second to last rest stop was so bad, I had to use the powerade instead. As a result I think I drank less than I would have normally had I liked the water. (Note to self, always bring your camel bak). Anyway the last half of the ride took us 3 hours to finish. But get this. We still came in with a large group of the 100k folks because even though we weren't riding that fast we must have been moving faster than they were to have made up 45 minutes on them. I really didn't notice much at the time but Karen pointed out later that we had passed quite a few people on the course after the halfway point and none had stayed with us.

All in all it was a fun, albeit hard ride. Here are my stats from the effort. 63 miles 4:25.35, Max HR 163 (probably at the end when trying to avoid a dog), Ave HR 144, Calories 2999. And if you are ever in Austin the 3rd week in October. Bring your bike. This is one of the cooler rides around. Like I said, the city of Round Rock does this thing right. Maybe next year they'll have an answer for the wind.

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