My dad (a.k.a. Superfan) signed us up for The Atlas Ride.
Given the choice of 20, 50, 0r 70 miles, we chose 50. Mostly because if you went only 20, you didn’t end up finishing at the finish-line party at a winery, and if you did 70, well . . . you did s-e-v-e-n-t-y. Even though it was the first really good, long distance ride I’ve done all year, I didn’t train. Not to worry, though, because Dad didn’t either. Not at all. So at least if one of us was going to topple over from exhaustion, dehydration, or general blobishnees onto the sun-bleached, tire-poppingly hot asphalt, clipped-in to our pedals and pretzled around a road bike left helpless to be sidewinded (sidewound?) by a wayward desert snake – at least the other one wouldn’t be too far behind.
We didn’t really know what we were in for, or even what the Atlas ride was all about, until we got out there. We hung around at the start line for a while, taking in all the free Power Bar Gummies our burgeoning jersey pockets could hold and posing for what would become our cameo in the background of the even footage on the local evening news. (“No papparazi!”). Once we started out, it seemed that we reached the 20-miler turnaround way too soon – we felt great. Not wanting to jinx ourselves, neither dared to mention that we were already 20% percent through and feeling fine, but we rolled on by the rest stop sans re-fuel or restroom.
By the halfway point, where the hulking 70-milers branched off from the puny 50-milers, they had peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and smoothies. Now THAT, my friends, is ride support. Keep your Gatorade and Gu, just gimme the good stuff. We still felt fine, but at this stop we dared to admit it. Could it already be mid-morning and the cloud cover had not yet burned off? Did we really just ride 25 miles?
By the 3/4 point we stopped for water and orange slices because, really, you can’t find good orange slices anywhere besides a little league soccer match, and good luck trying to get in on that action without coming off like a TOTAL creep. (Don’t ask.) The clouds had burned off, but only just. We weren’t too hot, too thirsty, or anywhere near bonking. The PBJ-Smoothie combo had been the mid-ride snack of champions (or at least of persistent finishers). From that point on, it was easy to settle in for the end of the ride knowing we’d soon be rolling into a winery, flashing our finisher’s writsbands, and enjoying all the free BBQ, beer, and glory we could handle.
When we finally rolled in to the party we realized that 50 miles isn’t that hard, after all. We’d spent the last leg of the ride marveling at how much fun we’d had, how great we felt that our pace has increased since last summer, and how next year we would DEFINITELY do the 70 miler. In our post-ride euphoria, we even tried to sign up for the Atlas 4000 (70 Days, Texas-to-Alaska, bragging rights forever). Alas, that ride is only for UT students, so we are forced into our new campaign to convince Mom to let us ride our bikes to the family reunion next year (7 days, Texas-to-Kansas, bragging rights forever).