Monday, April 30, 2007

Training for RAAM Part I: Texas

I've had more than a few "what have I gotten myself into" moments with respect to RAAM, which is probably good and healthy...fear motivates me as much as anything. I've also been riding like a bastard and am feeling pretty good. I did 150 miles today at about as hard as I could go. It was 80 degrees and windy and I felt great the whole time, so that helps my confidence some. I'm red as a lobster right now.

For probably the first time ever I've wished I was a professional cyclist. Its so easy and fun to get up at 8am, eat, read for an hour, go ride, eat, take a nap, go for another ride, etc. Then I remember that "professional cyclist" is sometimes another word for "broke as a joke" and that I wouldn't be doing any of this if I were a "professional cyclist"...that this is really a those guys that pay like $40,000 to go to a "training camp" with a bunch of retired New York Yankees (probably retired Boston Red Sox too Julie) for a week. Anyhow, its nice, and sometimes feels a bit poetic, riding all day listening to Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Old 97's, Butthole Surfers...all that classic TX music.

The Fredericksberg area is a lot nicer than I expected. Its unbelievably hilly...not a flat piece of ground anywhere. Its also very wooded and has tons of wildflowers in bloom right now. About 80% of the riding is on these narrow country roads that have almost no traffic . Tim (friend from CO who was here to ride with me until yesterday) said it reminded him of riding in Italy. It reminds me of Mexico, but the hills are smaller, the views are not as large, the roads are narrower, etc not really I guess.

I've also got to say that Texas has redeemed itself in the BBQ department. Luke knows what I'm talking about. We went to one place that was freaking awesome...only bad thing was that they claim that G.W. says its his favorite BBQ place. I'll concede the man knows his BBQ, if nothing else. It was pretty sweet...lots of plywood and you eat on sheets of butcher paper instead of plates.

The other place I had BBQ at was a Shell Station/BBQ. I've never been afraid of giving gas station food a fair shake and it paid off big time this week. I knew I was in luck when I tried to order and I couldn't understand a thing the guy said. Actually I suspected I was in luck when I saw his BBQ out front. It was a John Deere tractor with the engine removed and a bigass BBQ in its place. the BBQ exhaust even vented out the tractor exhaust...with a working flapper valve...pretty sweet. Anyhow, I'm pretty sure he was speaking english of some dialect. He seemed to understand least I got what I ordered. While I was eating he'd periodically say/shout something (I think to us...we were the only people there) and I'd just say "yeah" or "hell yeah" and he'd grin and shake his head. It was pretty funny. I wanted to try the frito pie, but was way too stuffed...think I'm gonna go back though.

Here is a picture that Peter Lekisch took of me riding on a road near Mason, TX. Its pretty typical of the riding around here...rolling hills that just keep going and flat ground anywhere, lots of flowers, very green - greener than the picture looks...and windy, always windy. Lots of deer, cows, sheep, and goats, goats, goats. This road is pretty big compared to most of them I've been on. It has stripes, most of them don't.

Here is a picture of my favorite road in the Fredericksberg area (Welgahausen). It isn't very long, but is tight and twisty with a ton of wildflowers and a little 12-14% climb thats a real leg-breaker at the end of a 120 or 140 mile ride.



Morgan said...

Sweet blog, Dude. Wished you singed your posts "Love, Jeff", though. Please give us more info about your training, dates of the race, route and links to newspaper articles etc. Else I'll just post it for you and who knows how I'll sign you.

KIMMAY said...

Great pics! Andy and I love that area! Keep me posted!

keri said...

Hey Jeff - Glad you enjoyed the BBQ. Let's do it again in another 12 years! ;) Good luck on the RAAM. I am looking forward to reading the updates.