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Day 13
Greenville, Texas to Texarkana, Arkansas
143 miles, 1700 feet climbing

 

Lon had scheduled a team time trial for Day 13. We'd tried to convince him to do a team with him and Susan and John and me on tandems, but they had to run the race. So instead, we had a team with us, Roger, Eric, and Tim (with Tim being the only non-crew member). I was actually pretty excited about this. Other than 24 hour time trials and RAAM qualifiers, I have never raced, so this would be a great first one. Lon had tried to balance the teams out fairly well. This race was just for fun and the standings would not be affected by the outcome. We all took it fairly easy riding out to the start, which was scheduled to be at the first snack stop. But when we arrived at this designated area, it was deserted, and paint on the road indicated that we should keep going.

When we finally found the stop many miles down the road, we discovered that the reason for the relocation was a cranky cemetery watchman. Snack stops and lunch stops vary from wide spots in the road to road side picnic areas, abandoned stores, parking lots, church picnic areas, etc. We roll in, setup a few small tables with snacks and drinks, a few benches, and trash bags. We clean up thoroughly and leave no evidence that we were ever there. Some of the snack stops can be chosen ahead of time like roadside parks or church picnic areas. Wide spots in the road are chosen on the fly by the crew.

This particular stop was listed as a church picnic area, but apparently the cemetery caretaker felt we were trespassing and ordered people off of the church property, somewhat forcibly, with a gun, and threats to call the authorities. Victor packed up the snacks and moved on. Apparently the caretaker called the police and that was his undoing, since the police seemed almost eager for Victor to press charges regarding the threats. The police were actually quite friendly and supportive of us. This served to revive my good impressions of cycling in Texas.

So we finally started the time trial, a few miles later than planned. And it was a good thing. Lon had described the course as flat, and it was anything but. I'm not afraid of hills, but I knew that a tandem and three singles would have a little trouble staying together on this terrain. The route flattened a bit, but still had a few good climbs. Despite averaging almost 30 mph, we still fell off the back on some of the climbs. But the team worked together to keep us around, since we were such an assett on the flats and downhill.

I have never ridden so intensely in my life. For the first 4 or 5 miles, I was sure my heart was going to explode through my rib cage at any moment. I was sure I would not be able to hang on for 27 miles the way I felt, but suddenly I got into a good rhythm and while I was still working harder than I ever had, I felt better.

Then we hit construction. We actually had to stop while a bulldozer pulled out in front of us. We got through after a minute, but what lay ahead of us was dirt and mud. We hammered right through it and back up to speed. We passed through several of these mud patches, and soon we were all covered in mud from the knees down. We kept cranking along.

Near the end, Lon drove by and told us we were doing well, although we had lost Roger a minute or so before. The timer would stop on the third bike, so each team could lose one rider. We were really excited and just kept going at 30+ mph until we finally reached the finish line, where we all stood and sprinted across the line for a time of 56 minutes, 6 seconds. Apparently I wasn't the only one working harder than ever before. John discovered a new max. heart rate of 200 bpm at the end. All this was good enough for third place !