Friday, June 19, 2015

RFR 2015 Day 3 (Austin to Ely, 121 miles)

Day 3 is always a rude awakening (no pun intended) when we start.  We LITERALLY leave the hotel, turn left, and start climbing Pinto.  So, no warm up time, no stretch the sore legs, just ride, ride, ride.

Somehow I forgot that day 3 is FIVE climbs, not FOUR.  So, I was posting photos of each summit and counting the four off...then realized I wasn't including Robinson Pass, which is the longest of all the climbs.  Maybe I blocked that out?  Actually, I don't mind Robinson, just forgot about it.

Here's the problem.  Somewhere between the bottom and the top of the climb to Robinson, something went haywire with my bike.  I was sprinting the last portion of the climb and hearing some squeaking from my bike.  I thought it was one of the pulleys in my rear derailleur.  Given my new chain and new cassette, that wouldn't have surprised me.  But, when I stopped at the top, my rear wheel was out of true.  REALLY out of true.  It was actually rubbing against the seat stay, hence the squeaking.

So, I took some time to inspect it, and found one spoke that had come completely loose.  Long story short, got the spoke tightened and the wheel fairly trued.  But, here's the issue- now it's a long descent, and a worry about a spoke that might go out and a spill that might occur.  But, I've got a whole group waiting patiently for me, and I want to get them and me on the road.  So, let's do this!

Jeff had told me he thought there was a "bona fide" bike shop in Ely.  So, I planned to find it.  When we hit the bottom of the descent and dropped into Ely, I started scanning all the shops as we passed them at speed.  Jeff pointed it out- a sporting goods store!  I had my doubts, but needed the help, so in I went.  Jeff and Zo, two my best friends, stayed with me to make sure all was well.  The young guy in the bike shop in the back truly did know how to true a wheel, and after an incident where he stuck an opened ended wrench in a vice to size it down (no kidding!), and then broke it off, he was able to get the wheel very trued and all good to go.  Keep this all in mind, it will play in to what happens tomorrow (day 4).

We ate at McDonald's, which I know isn't healthy, and sounds weird for a bunch of cyclists. But, the burger and fries are heaven, and since they didn't have milkshakes for some reason, I made do with a hot fudge sundae.  Yeah, it was a chore, but someone had to do it!

As we left Ely in a pace line, we were stopped by a highway patrolman.  For real!  Some people had called NHP saying we were riding five abreast. He waited for us and as we pulled along side he hit his lights. He was very low key.  A very cool guy.  And, as he talked to us he said, "Look, I'm a cyclist, I get it. In fact, I'm riding the Huntsman 140 on Saturday." Can you believe it?  We get stopped by a guy who's coming to do the very ride we're leading up to on Saturday. 

From there we had a slog out to the bottom of the final pass, Conor Summit.  It's always a west wind, which slows us down, and it just goes and goes and goes.  But, we got to the bottom, watered up, and made the final climb of the day.  This is a climb we all love, because the descent means LITERALLY 10-12 miles of coasting with very little pedaling if you descend right, stay tucked, and let gravity do it's thing.  And, as you make the last left hand turn into the valley, you see literally dozens of windmills turning, giving it all a very "alien" vibe to the valley.

We all gathered together at the bottom, rode the last 8 miles on the rollers (not fun!), racked the bikes and drove back to Ely.

Mexican food for dinner, good company for discussion, and an end to yet another great day to be alive and on the bike!

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