I finally did my first big official group athletic event this past weekend:
Tour de Gruene (pronounced Green)!
I rode 31 miles in some very brisk early morning weather, and was able to keep a semi-decent pace (1) for me, a bona fide newbie; (2) given the chill; and (3) given the hilly terrain of Texas’s acclaimed HILL Country. Even so, I didn’t keep up with the people I was riding with and several times found myself eating their dust, sucking wind, and cursing the potato skins, beers, and cocktails I justified as “carbo-loading” the night before as I struggled to keep my bike upright absent any velocity whatsoever while creeping to the top of steep never-ending hills. It was a little embarrassing, or at least not mildly humbling, to be so weak compared to my friends and family.
At least I can say that I rode the Whole Thing at a steady pace (even if that pace, albeit steady, happened to be imperceptible to all but the most sophisticated of scientific instruments!) I kept moving and stayed on the bike the whole time, even for the last dead-vertical quarter-mile where I passed a few people (geriatrics and children) who had to get off and walk. I was especially proud of myself during the last ten or twenty yards of that gargantuan hill, just before the finish line, where I came upon a crowd of overly stoked and super supportive onlookers furiously clanging their requisite bike race cowbells letting me know “You GOT this!” and “You’re so close!” for keeping my head down, my pedals turning, and my snide remarks at bay. No need to send a cowbell where the sun don’t shine, it’s not their fault I’m not goot at the hills.
After creeping over the finish line, I re-connected with my riding buddies who were already cooling their heels (er . . . warming their heels?) with coffees and cocoas waiting on the ol’ caboose to finally roll ‘er in. It was at this point that I realized what fun group sports events can be. I particularly enjoyed reminiscing over knuckle-thawing coffees about what had already crystalized into glory tales from “Mile 13 where that freak in the cape cut us off,” or “Mile 30 right before that gigantic hill where we lost you.”
I guess — all in all — it’s not so abysmal for my very first time. Purportedly, there is only one way to go from here, so that’s potentially heartening. The truth is, though, that I had an absolute blast doing it and have agreed to keep the Tour de Gruene as a special annual tradition. ESPECIALLY since riders get free access to Wurstfest, New Braunfels, Texas, for all the dark beer and cheesy sausage any Blob could ever want.