Saturday I rode in the Cowtown Classic in Crowley, TX. Most of my Moritz teammates were there since this is the only real rally in Fort Worth (technically it starts in Crowley, but it’s close enough). I decided to ride my single speed in order to get in one final, long ride on the SS before I ride it for 112 miles on Sunday (all in the name of charity). The ride was 62 miles, plus I was riding from my house, so it would be 80 miles in the saddle.
Right at the start I noticed a strange bulge in my front tire, so I pulled over at the first rest area (mile 10) and my front tire literally exploded as I pulled in. Phil and Ken from ThinkCash saw me and stopped, but continued on, assuming that I would catch them on the way. After changing the flat (and using a couple CO2 canisters) I realized my spare tube also had a hole in it.
Some other rider was nice enough to give me a tube and some CO2. I took it as proof to the existence of karma in the universe. In the last 2 weeks I’ve stopped to help 3 different riders on the Trinity Trails with flats. In all cases I gave the riders a tube, CO2, or both. I figured this was the universe’s way of repaying my kindness ;)
So the flat slowed me down for 20-30 minutes. This meant for the rest of the ride I would be passing slower riders along the course. I haven’t ridden at the back of a bike rally in years (since I first started riding). So it was interesting to observe some different behaviors now that I am a more experienced cyclist. I thought I would share some of my observations in an effort to help new cyclists:
Stay on the right side of the road – I saw more cyclist than I could count riding in the wrong lane. I’m not talking about the left-side of the right-lane, I’m talking about riders actually riding in the wrong lane of traffic. The smart thing to do (whether in a bike rally with 1,000 other riders or on a solo training ride) is to stay as far right on the road as you can. This will make it easier for faster riders and CARS to pass you.
Don’t spend too much time at rest areas – When you stop at a rest area, grab a banana or a cookie, refill your bottles, use the porta-potty if needed and then get moving. When you stop at a rest area for longer than 5 minutes, your muscles “freeze-up” making it more difficult to get going again. You’ll be much more likely to ride a new “personal best” distance if you keep your stops short.
Don’t hit your breaks in corners with debris – There were quite a few corners on this ride that had sand, gravel, etc. The best thing to do is brake before the corner and then let go of the brakes as you make the turn. You’ll be surprised how much debris you can safely ride through on a road bike. However, when you hit the brakes mid-corner, all bets are off. You’ll quickly lose traction and be more likely to go down.
Don’t get in a paceline that is too fast – Pacelines are a great way to conserve energy and ride faster than you could by yourself. However, when try to hang on to a group that is too fast – you will probably get dropped and burn most of your glycogen reserves. Leaving you with very little power to finish the ride. A cyclist can only burn so many “matches”, you don’t want to waste them trying to hang on to a group that will drop you. If you see a group that’s moving at the right speed, join in, if there moving too fast . . . let them go.
Despite the flats, it was a great ride. The weather was perfect and I averaged right at 19 mph for 80 miles. The 48×17 gearing I have on the bike seems just right and should be the perfect gearing for TXTough. I’m really starting to like this single speed thing. Too bad there aren’t single speed divisions in road racing like there are in mountain bike racing – It would make things interesting.