Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Elevation: ~1,100 ft.
Distance: 70.7 mi.
Odometer: 70.7 mi.
ATLAS again, the first day of Texas 4,000. For this day only, I would be riding Invictus and wearing my old Texas 4,000 jersey.
Peyton, Athan, and my dad were all riding ATLAS as well, and all three seem at least a little nervous about the distance. With the exception of my dad, I'd already seen them ride 45 miles at a time with no rest stops, and my dad has apparently been doing 100 miles per weekend on his own. Rest stops always replenish you a lot, so I was sure they'd be able to handle another 25 miles if there were rest stops thrown in. And on top of that, there was a 10 mph tailwind.
The four of us started off together, but found staying that way difficult due to the sheer volume of other riders at the start. We all got separated from each other in different ways at different times and took that opportunity to chat with a few of the 2009 team members. We were all pretty close together when we arrived at the second rest stop, the first one we took. There were still-frozen smoothies there, but no spoons to eat them with.
The second rest stop is where the ATLAS ride splits into a 50- and 70-mile route. My ridemates were flirting with the idea of opting for the 50-mile route, but chose the 70-mile route to my delight. I found out later that most of the current Texas 4,000 riders did the 50-mile route, which had me mad. I almost consider that cheating.
The stretch between rest stops 2 and 3 is the hardest part because the route heads slightly south (into the wind) and there are some rolling hills, with noticeably more ups than downs. We wound up climbing 300 feet in less than 10 miles (a lot for Texas). Some of us weren't planning on taking rest stop 3, but we all did. Made it a quick one and all took off together.
Shortly after rest stop 3, we ran into a group of other riders. It looked like they were trying to set up a paceline, so I went around them. Peyton stayed back and joined them. I blazed through that section without much effort since the wind was now fully behind me. With about a mile to go before the next rest stop, I chanced a look over my shoulder and saw the entire paceline only 60 meters back. I slowed down a little and rode to rest stop 4 with them.
Rest stop 4 was also quick, and leaving it, this time I stuck with the paceline. The wind was still behind us and we cruised at about 22 mph with little effort. Only downside was hitting a cattle guard every half mile.
Skipped rest stop 5 and rode in the last dozen alone. I pretty much have to spend part of every ride alone. Good riding right up until you get to Lampasas. You have to navigate this weird path that involves a sidewalk at one point, just to avoid spending a quarter mile on a street that's about as busy as 34th in Austin. After that, you ride a couple miles out of town, headed slightly into the wind.
At the finish, you get a cold towel, barbeque, wine, and beer. Not bad for a $40 ride! Had to leave and head back to Austin for the night and take care of a few last-minute things before getting driven back to Lampasas in the morning.
from Pedal for Potatoes