Do my legs look humongous?
Driving to Dripping Springs High School for the start of the ride took about 45 minutes. We parked at Roger Hanks Park, got our stuff ready, and rode about a half mile to the high school. Maria, Parris, Lucas, and his friend Kyle met us there at the start line at about 7:00 AM. The Challenge is definitely one of the most well-organized events I have ever attended. There was food and coffee for all the participants. At about 7:15 I realized that I had forgotten my Garmin Edge 705 GPS unit back at the car, so Murray and I rode back to get it. Given my poor sense of direction, my Garmin helps put my mind at ease with its capability to provide turn-by-turn directions. Oh yeah, Parris wanted to take lots of goofy pictures of us, like this one. Do my legs look humongous?
At 8:00 after the singing of the national anthem and a send off from Mr. Lance Armstrong, Team Tuma finally got underway on the 90-mile journey. With over 3800 riders it took quite some time to actually reach the start line and clear the starting area. Murray and I started off fairly slowly, navigating through the maze of riders going too slow or riding crookedly.
The initial roads out of the start area were extremely bumpy as they were mostly some kind of rough gravel. I had initially planned to ride the entire ride with Murray, and early on, I let him lead the way through the maze of riders. But after awhile I got bored of the slow pace and motioned for us to pick up the pace to try to clear the rag-tag group of riders. With a couple of big bumps in the road, my air pump launched out of its velcro straps. Unfortunately, Murray had no idea and went on ahead. After retrieving my pump, my water bottle launched after another big bump in the road, and I stopped to retrieve that. By the time I got going again , Murray was several minutes ahead of me maybe two miles out. I raced and weaved through riders to catch up. It wasn’t exactly my plan to be riding hard so early in the route.
Finally, I caught up with Murray, chastised him for not waiting and pulled ahead. I did stop a couple of times to wait for Murray to catch up to me. The scenery of the route was fantastic, creeks, lakes, country roads, and quaint homes. By the way, the weather in Austin was so nice. The weather was partly cloudy in the 70s with the sun breaking out every once in awhile.
Even with the moderate temperatures, I made it a point to hydrate regularly and refuel with my Infinit blend. At about mile 30, I signaled to Murray that I needed to stop at the next Power Stop to go to the restroom. So at mile 36 I pulled into the Aid Station to do just that. The station was also well-stocked with food: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix, power bars, gels, Gatorade, water, and even a bike mechanic. Murray pulled in about 10 minutes later. After his pit stop we headed out again to complete the remaining 54 miles of the route.
The route was so clearly marked with bright yellow signs, volunteers with flags, and the local sheriff pointing the way, it would be nearly impossible for me to get lost. I used my Garmin as an odometer and didn’t need it at all for directions.
Because the route was so clearly marked, I decided to go ahead and break my promise to Murray to ride with him, and turned on my afterburners to see just how fast I could do this Challenge. So on I rode, pushing hard on the flats and downhills and trying to maintain a decent climbing speed when going uphill, remaining seated in the saddle rather than standing up to climb. My Cervelo P2 and my legs did not disappoint. It was fun to pass riders going uphill as I remained seated.
At mile 56 I recorded my split time at 3:02. As I approached 56 miles, I had pushed even harder trying to get my split under three hours. However, a slight uphill at mile 54.5 forced me to slow down slightly. I’m confident that had I not stopped two times earlier to retrieve my air pump and water bottle, I could have attained a split of 2:50 or less.
At about mile 60, both my quadriceps started crampng badly. I swallowed some more of my Infinit drink, and the cramps subsided two miles later. Coupled with some downhill portions, I was able to sustain speeds of 27 – 34 mph for some time. It was only when going uphill that the cramps affected my speed.
I reached mile 76 at about 4 hours and 10 minutes. My Garmin was telling me that there were about 10 miles remaining on the route. Clearly it was not a true 90-mile route. And despite being hampered by cramps, I was excited at the thought of being able to complete the Challenge in under five hours. With on and off bursts of cramping pain, I sprinted when I had the opportunity and slowed down when the cramps would not allow me to go any faster. I was able to finish the last 10 miles in about 40 more minutes, completing the entire route in 4:49 minutes! Very exciting for me.
As I reflect on the pain of my last 26 miles, it reminds me of the pain that people suffering from cancer have to endure. My cramps were nothing to me as I thought of Vivien Tuma for whom I dedicated this weekend. If she can hang in there as she fights lymphoma, then surely I could endure 26 miles of cramps. With that in mind, I was able to struggle ahead to the finish line. As I crossed I raised my arms into a V, Mark Cavendish style.
What happened with Murray? After resting for a bit and catching up with my family, I grabbed a bite to eat and a massage and waited for Murray. Little did we know, he had already crossed the finish line. I thought we would have to wait at least two hours. Yeah, I know, I thought I smoked him by at least two hours. But Murray rode a personal best as well, finishing his ride in under six hours. But it was very satisfying to smoke him by one hour and one minute. He finished at 5:50.
What a great weekend. Thank you again to all my financial supporters for making it possible to ride for cancer this weekend. Through your efforts we contributed $3054 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. May you be richly blessed for your generosity.
Team Tuma Post-race