As I sit here, I’m struggling to write about the Fort Worth, TX Tour de Cure that I rode in on October 20, 2007. Why, I don’t know, but maybe it’s because it was a struggle for me to finish this ride. It was during this ride that I decided it’s no fun to ride by myself, it’s no fun to not know anybody, it’s no fun to not have someone to talk to, and it’s no fun to be riding with people that aren’t so friendly and are very untalkative (maybe they were serious about riding, but they were no fun).
But at the same time I was bummed out, I was also greatful, I was greatful to have gotten the names of various people to ride for, because if I hadn’t had them, I probably wouldn’t have finished. And so as I’m riding along, trying to keep my mind off the fact that I was on a route, mostly alone, and the roads weren’t well marked and I was as good as lost if the spots in the distance disappeared, I was going through names…Al, Amy, Ben, Chanelle, Charles, Clara, Choa Har, Colleen, Dezi, Diego, Donna, Dot, George, Harold, Holly, Jenna, Jimmy, Joann, Kay, LaRay, Laurie, Lawrence, Lura, Marjorie, Mary Mac, Michelle, Mikayla, Nancy, Pat, Sarah, Shirley, Suzanne, Tracy, Troy, William. It was these people that got me through my ride, if I hadn’t known all these diabetics I would have turned around (at mile 7ish) and gone back to grandma who was waiting for me at the end and said “I’m done, let’s go home”. That’s how not happy I was with this ride. (Of course, I say I would’ve gone back, but truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have, even though I wanted to I would’ve kept going because otherwise it would’ve been a waste of 20 hrs on the road and a very so not worth it expensive hotel room.)
I suppose I should start at the beginning. My journey began at the Doral Tesoro with me venturing out to check in for the ride at about 7:30.
This was the first time I had to check in normally (normally being with all the other riders). In CA I had express check-in for being in the Elite Riders Club and in CO there was Pre-Check-In the night prior to the event. There weren’t many of us, so checking in wasn’t that bad, I only had to wait for about 7 minutes in line before I could get my number and my t-shirt (of which they didn’t have my size). Check-In was fairly uneventful.
The lucky number this ride was 263.
After checking in, I decided that since I was taking my road bike out for it’s first serious ride (as training rides don’t count as serious) that it needed a once over. First mistake, I asked for a once over, I omitted the fact that it was my bike that needed the once over not me. The guy was funny though, when I said “I think I’m pretty good to go but if you could give me a once over that’d be great” I got looked up and down and he said “yup, you look pretty good to me” Talk about blushing.
He tuned up my bike after I made it clear what it was that needed a once over. It wasn’t quite right (it being my bike because I was looking pretty good). And then he pumped up my tires for me because I didn’t know that I was to check them before each ride (that and I didn’t know how to pump up the tires on my road bike to begin with). Apparently on road bikes, the pressure can go from 130 psi to 80 psi overnight. After he pumped up my tires, threw out the caps (added weight I didn’t need he said), told me I should have a much smoother ride, he sent me on my way.
I had my number on, my bike was properly tuned and the tires were pumped and it was time to assume my position in line. I wedged myself into a spot near the front so that when I slowed down it would be ok because I didn’t start at the back of the pack.
We had to listen to some announcements (which we really couldn’t hear anyways) and then we were off. The beginning was cool, a cop led us, I guess the cop was our pace car, technically speaking that is, he let us out of the start and I don’t know for how long because I lost him at approximately 3 miles. But for 3 good miles I was riding along at 20 mph. Which in my book is like totally impressive. It was during this time that I also passed the first rest stop. I didn’t need to rest at the 1.7 mile mark. Coincidentally, I didn’t have to rest at the 8.7 mile mark either. (Which could’ve been very stupid, here’s the story, I usually stop at every 8-10 miles to check my blood. I was scared to stop because I didn’t want to be left behind because I was semi-close to a pack of riders and I couldn’t see anyone behind me, so in the name of knowing where I was going I kept going, this would kill me on the way back it turns out.)
At 12.3 miles, I got to stop for the coolest thing I’ve ever had to stop for: A TRAIN!!! And as I was riding towards it, I took at my camera (while I was still riding) and took this picture (the meaning behind me taking it while I was still riding and not when I had stopped is because when I had to stop, the train was just about across the street.)
At 15.5 miles there was another rest stop and this time I stopped. I would’ve been stupid to have not stopped. I parked my
carbike in the visitor’s parking spot (I was a visitor, in true form, I came from another state.)
Thanks to the jersey I was wearing (the official 2007 Tour de Cure Jersey) some conversations where started while I was eating and getting water at the rest stop.
I had a nice little conversation with Ms. Baumer about me wanting to ride in every state. At which point Gina got called over and Gina is the Communications Director for that area and she knew who I was. As soon as Ms. Baumer started talking about me wanting to ride in every state, Gina was like “I know you, you’re C…Courtney, Courtney Benefiel” (I of course was all impressed, she not only remembered my name, she said it right) and then I got to talk to their VP. The rest stop was a good rest stop. I was there about 15 minutes. And my blood sugar was ok (which was good because not only did I not stop at the prior rest stops, I didn’t check my blood before riding and I didn’t have my usual snickers marathon bar because I had just eaten breakfast)
When I was done chatting I hopped back on the trail, I was of course back on the trail with no one in front of me, but I knew in general the direction I needed to head because I had just come from this direction. I rode hard because I needed to be able to see people in front of me because as I said earlier the roads weren’t well marked and if there weren’t people in front of me I was as good as lost. In fact, I did get lost, kindof, not really. I had to stop and wait for people to catch up so I would know which way to go. What happened was that for the first 20 miles or so there were two women in front of me. I take that back, they passed me just before the second rest stop, well, somewhere around the 6-8 mile mark.
So, these women, Sonya and Denise. I was ahead of them, they pulled ahead of me, I caught up with them. I had a nice little conversation with Denise about how she had to have slowed down. It was funny. She said “yeah I’m slowing down, these hills, the wind, the roads, they’re going to jiggle my tire off” I talked with her for a ways, and pulled ahead, I caught up with Sonya, who’s a beast when it comes to hills, she loves them, and she told me I could pull ahead and so I did just that, and I didn’t get very far, because then I had to stop, because I didn’t know which way to turn. From them on I stayed behind them, or between them, but never ahead of them.
I was within 2 miles of the finish and I could feel that my blood sugar was dropping so I ate some glucose tabs and went on my way. About a mile from the finish I called grandma’s cell so she could be at the finish to take pictures of me, and that was the coolest thing because they didn’t have a photographer on the route like they did in CA and CO.
So, this ride was a little bit of a struggle. It was partly probably due to irresponsibility on my part (not making 3 stops, not checking my blood more, not eating more), and partly the routes fault, not being clearly marked like it should’ve been. But I did finish.
The ride ended up being 34.95 miles. I didn’t do it in what I had hoped would be record breaking time, but 2 hrs 59 minutes and 36 seconds is ok (I guess). I was very thrilled when I was going through the stats on my speedometer and saw that my max speed was 30.1 miles. I know where I got to that speed to, I think, it was on a down hill (obviously), it was before the 2nd rest stop on Tim McDonald Road. I laid out flat over my handlebars and pedaled as fast as I could and I resisted the wanting to look at the speedometer, it didn’t feel like 30, but the speedometer says so, and thus I’m thrilled. My average wasn’t impressive, 12.2 mph. I was doing better than that on my “training” rides back in NM, but they were also flat, whereas Texas, it’s not so flat (and I mentioned that and the Texans just looked at me and sped past…)
I struggled with this ride, but you know what, now that I’ve written this, the struggle is worth it, especially when a cure found.