Friday, April 29, 2016, 10:16 am – The Day Before
It’s less than 24 hours to the biggest bicycle ride of my life, and A Dude Abikes is rushing around in order to relax. I’m getting a massage and reflexology treatment with my friend Richard. First I have to go to work to borrow a car; I’m not biking the day before, especially in the rain. Later, after the painfully pleasant massage, mostly on my legs, Richard offers to discount the rest of his fee if I’ll pick up a used recliner at a second-hand store. The lure of easy money is irresistible, plus I like to help. With the savings I pick up two necessities at a bike shop on the way — a rain jacket for the downpour forecast for the morning, and sunproof arm sleeves for the hot and sunny afternoon predicted to follow. But being stuck in Austin traffic stresses me out, and undoes alot of the relaxation. Whatever, my legs feel great, like heavy weights have been lifted from them. Little did I know how important the session would be for my lesgs, tight from 1,600 miles of training since January. Something major is coming.
2:04 pm – Not Even Packed Yet
I’m home, and frantic. So much to gather, so little time before Gregg, a serious and nice guy, comes by with his RV van to go out to Krause Springs. A former Boy Scout, I used to know how to pack for camping. But it’s been a while, and I’ll have electricity and access to many of the modern conveniences. So I just start cramming things in bags: bike clothes, food, other gear like cross-bar bag, new cell phone holder, lock, helmet, shorts… everything but the jersey, I would later realize. I finally get my act together, Gregg arrives, we load and we go. Just a coupla guys heading out for a weekend trip. No big deal. Unless you’re on a mission to ride your bike as far as possible without ending up in the hospital from heat exhaustion, broken bones, road rash, or sunburn. It’s also supposed to pour like a sonuvabitch and the whole thing could be cancelled. The suspense is terrible.
3:15 pm – Finally On the Road
We leave, stop at a store for provisions, and drive across the Balcones Escarpment, the old Dodge lumbering into some elevation. A portent of what would come tomorrow on the bike. Finally we arrive in Spicewood, Texas at the campsite with the natural, beautiful and cool waters of Krause Springs. We sign in with the gruff but polite host. We park, unload, and muck about, eventually making our way to the jewel of the campground: a natural spring-fed pool that’s 68 degrees year-round. Some Latino guys are blaring some American country music (I like both kinds — country AND western), ruining the otherwise peaceful moment. But the cool waters are a welcome balm to the warm humidity that isn’t letting our sweat evaporate. Ride day could be a icky and sticky.
7:30 pm — The Sun Sets; 12 Hours Til Start
We settle into the campsite, and night falls. It’s quiet but for the buzz of crickets and the hum of our neighbors’ RV’s; one’s bigger than a rock star’s tour bus (an RV, not a cricket — that would be weird). We eat dinner, and Gregg wisely turns in early. I haven’t been on my bike in two days since I got a free tune-up donated by The Peddler, thanks to happenstance of running into owner AJ (a real mountain bike and road bike cyclist). I go to a pavilion do my daily half hour of yoga on the dusty concrete. It’s dark but I see human forms slowly moving about. They appear to be ghosts, and I’m reminded of the Dripping Springs training ride where I imagined victims of AIDS were there with us. But these are other riders and volunteers, going about their business. I think about why I’m here, and whether any of it really matters. But another donation has come in, and I’ve doubled my fundraising to over $2,200. That’s worth something.
12:00 am — Bedtime
I’ve been sweating in the tent, but finally get to sleep. It’s going to be tough to bike with little rest, but I’ve done it before, and always seem to find some reserves.
4:24 am — Stormy Weather
BAM! A really loud and bright strike of lightning hits the camp, seemingly 100 yards away. I hear some gasps. I sit up, wide awake, cursing. Then the rain comes, pretty hard, but with it, a lovely cold front. Will the organizers delay the start, or even cancel? I wonder. But the Weather Channel says the storm will pass, and eventually it does. But I can’t get back to sleep.
6:30 am — An Hour Til Go-Time
I’m out of the sack, but things are wet and in disarray. It’s still dark, so I have a hot shower with the RV’s outdoor water hose. Then, I begin to assemble my gear, dress, have my morning constitutional. It’s very important to apply more Chamois Butt’r AFTER that. I’ve been drinking extra Nuun in water since yesterday and have more. Then two scoops of a new supplement, Beet Elite, to help with nitric oxide production. Sports Legs for removing lactic acid. Branch chain amino acid for reducing muscle breakdown. A Dude needs all the help he can get. The camp has come alive with sunlight; and it’s a beautiful cool and cloudless morning. I go to registration and get my number, and Gregg helps pin it on me as the starting deadline approaches. I get water, snacks, a breakfast taco but I’m too nervous to eat it. Despite only getting 4 hours of sleep, I’m on auto-pilot. I’m giving myself the chance to do 75 miles, 25 more than last year, by starting with the century (100-mile) riders. Prentiss, the Director of this moving circus of 500 riders and maybe as many volunteers, is making his speech on the megaphone. Starting alone would suck, so I’m rushing to get there.
7:40 am — And So It Begins
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