When we did Atlas 4000 2011, it was the longest ride I’d ever done, and when it was done – in my “holy-crap-that-didn’t-kill-me” euphoria – I talked a big game about how I could totally have done 70 miles. So, when it came time to register this year, the check was already written; it was just a question of whether my ass could cash it.
The team was just me and Superfan Dad. Non-blob Newbie decided after the Real Ale Ride that he’s be more than happy to drop us off and pick us up this time around. After some early fumbles including showing up late and accidentally rolling out with a pack of honorary riders in matching outfits (Overheard: “Hey – who are these two?”), we settled in to a comfy conversation and a comfy cadence. We even passed up the first aid station, much to our surprise and delight.
The second aid station was the splitting of the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, the hulking 70 milers from the puny 50 milers. On strict orders from Superfan Mom, we stopped for some snacks and snaps. Superfan mom – the least blobby of all non-blobs, is a lifelong athlete and ardent proponent of bananas as a nutritional supplement during athletic activities of all kinds. Unable to attend, she respectfully requested photo dispatches, and she lovingly insists on bananas for endurance athletics. She’s even threatened (promised?) to root me on in my 70.3 this fall in a Carmen Miranda hat. Inside tip to Longhorn Ironmen: keep your eyes peeled (ugh) for my Banana Mom (you’re welcome.).
Much to our saddle-sore dismay, though, Banana Mom was unavoidably detained on this particular day, and so – apparently – was everyone and anyone else manning aid stations from mile 22 to mile 50. Immediately after splitting off from the 50 milers, we set about grinding directly uphill for the next – oh I don’t know, SIXTY MINUTES. I guess it was interesting to finally see The Hill they’re always talking about when people refer to The Texas Hill Country (totally worth the hype). I drank my last sip of water somewhere around mile 47 and the minute that last drop was gone, the sun turned brighter, the hair-dryer breeze blew hotter, and my skin instantly prickled with the pinkness of a setting-in sunburn.
In the name of all that is holy and hydrated, the penultimate aid station arose on the shimmering scorch of sunrays off the pavement exactly at mile 50. We coasted up to it for some sweet, sweet reprieve. (Yeah, it’s weird, but when you ride for an hour at an 87-degree incline, you get good enough to actually coast UPhill.) Turns out that my lifelong suspicion that PBJ is a superfood is 100% true and verifiable. After some roadside aid in the form of PBJ, Gatorade, fresh water, and an oreo, we hopped back on the bikes and blazed through the final 20 miles. We did stop for one more PBJ at the last aid station just so we wouldn’t feel slighted by the fact that we rode 27 miles without any aid. (I’m glad we did, too, because it totally worked – I hardly even remember any of that . . .).
In the end, we finished happy, healthy, and heartily agreeing that we could totally have done the century.