Monday, March 20, 2006

Tour de Houston

This past Saturday was the Tour de Houston and my longest ride ever. I did the 70 mile course and didn't regret it. That's a first!!

The day started out cool (in the high 60's) and didn't really get much higher. But that was good! Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining! The weather forecasted rain and overcast skies. We had overcast skies the whole ride, but the rain didn't make an appearance until later that afternoon, so that was great!!

I met up with Dan, Chryl, Tammy, Jon, Casey and some other people next to City Hall around 7:00 am. We eventually made our way to the start line, listened to a couple speeches from the race organizers and the mayor (who also did the 70 mile route) then at 7:30 the ride began. Was kind of cool riding through downtown Houston without having to worry about cars and stopping for traffic lights! Would have been really cool if the whole route was like that.

We all pedaled along for about 5 miles and came across our first obstacle - a train! Luckily the conductor saw the hundreds of riders approaching the railroad crossing, so he stopped and backed up letting us through. But then about 4 miles further we encountered another train and this one wasn't going anywhere. I think the conductor was having breakfast or something, because by the time our little group came upon it there were a couple hundred riders already there.

This city has a serious problem with trains just stopping and blocking streets for hours at a time. Who knows how long we would have been there if one "important" person hadn't arrived on the scene. Yep, the mayor arrived with his entourage, made a phone call and about 10 minutes later that train was moving. One benefit of having the mayor participating in the ride!

After that it was pretty smooth sailing. Rest stop number one was at mile 10 and number two was at mile 21. I was feeling pretty good and keeping up with the group (who was averaging 19-21 mph). After the second rest stop we started encountering more traffic and stop lights, but overall it wasn't too bad. There were police officers at all the major intersections directing traffic and making sure we got through safely. Very much appreciated!

By mile 35 I started getting a little tired and was looking for the next rest stop. I was having a harder time keeping up with the group and was really pushing it, so I was happy when we finally arrived at rest stop number 3 (mile 41).

After the rest, I kept up with the group for another 5 miles, but I was getting tired, fell behind and then had to wait at a stop light. Around mile 48 I noticed I had a flat - kind of hard to miss when you are going around a corner and the back end of your bike skids out from under you. Luckily I didn't fall. While I was fixing my flat I was able to hear all the other bikers as they made their way around the corner and started into the head wind. Talk about some choice words being uttered!! At least I was entertained!

Flat finally fixed, I climbed back on the bike and made my way to the next rest stop - around mile 60. Next year they need to add one or two more rest stops. This 20 miles between stops is a killer (in my opinion anyway!). At least I only had 10 more miles and one major "hill" (the I-10 overpass!) to go.

At mile 67 I witnessed a girl crash her bike. Poor thing - her wheel got caught in a rut and she lost control and went flying. I, along with a couple other people, stopped and made sure she was alright. I think the worst of it was a gash above her left eyebrow. Ouch! A policeman was there directing traffic and he called an ambulance. A couple of her friends arrived so I felt okay leaving. I climbed back on my bike and finally crossed the finish line. Yea for me!!

I met up with the rest of the group then grabbed a sack lunch and a glass of beer. I am not much of a beer drinker, but it was cold, wet and tasted pretty good (for beer!). After mingling for a bit it was time to go home - I had to bake a bunch of cookies and cupcakes for a fundraiser the next day!

**Edit**
up to mile 40 I was averaging about 17.5 mph. After that my average speed dropped way down and I finsihed with an average of 15.6 mph. I am getting better. Still room for improvement, but at least I am getting better! Next weekend we are doing 60 miles. No problem!!

6 comments:

Cagey said...

Congratulations on not just finishing the tour, but also on enjoying the ride. Like I said before, if you don't enjoy it, why do it.

bunnygirl said...

I'm glad you had a good time! My DH did this ride last year and said it was too crowded, but it sounds like in some respects it was better this year.

I've noticed there are three rides in the area this weekend. Which (if any) are you planning on doing?

WalkSports.com said...

Jill, congratulations! I've done marathons but I have no idea how those of you that bike for that long are able to do it! Way to go!

Erin said...

Congrats on the ride Jill! I saw a bunch of riders down Montrose on my way home from TNT practice & I was wondering if you were out there. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Anonymous said...

Way to go Girl. We are very proud of you and all you have accomplished. Keep up the good work. Love, Aunt Cathy

Cassie (TIGGS) said...

i'm mucho impressed!! way to go Jill. You are soooo ready and I'm not even close!