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City of Austin Urban Trails Program Open House!

July 21, 2014

The City of Austin Urban Trails Program is currently analyzing the feasibility of a portion of the Violet Crown Trail though Sunset Valley/Eastern Oak Hill Area.  We would like your feedback on the proposed alignment of the trail. Together with the Hill Country Conservancy and the Oak Hills Trails Association, the Urban Trails Program staff hope to receive input from area residents, property owners, cyclists, pedestrians, and other stakeholders to plan, design, and build a beautiful trail that will accommodate neighbors, families, and friends for many years to come.  

Please attend the open house (come-and-go) on Wednesday, July 30th at the Will Hampton Library (5125 Convict Hill Road) from 5:30-8:00 PM to discuss your preferred alignment for the trail.

Please also share this information and the attached flyer about the meeting with your networksassociations, organizations, groups, and connections.We appreciate your help in getting the word out about this exciting project.

Violet Crown Trail  I  Open House  I  7.30.14-01

Thank you!

ACTION ALERT! Tell the Senate Finance Committee NOT to Eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program!

June 25, 2014

action alert headers final

The biggest source of federal funds for bicycling and walking projects is under attack in the U.S. Senate.

Tomorrow morning, the Senate Finance Committee is voting on a plan to fund the Highway Trust Fund. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) has introduced an amendment to eliminate the Transportation Alternatives program in its entirety. TAP is a vital federal funding source for local leaders to build biking and walking projects in communities like yours.

Please ask your lawmaker to vote NO on Toomey #1.

Bikeable and walkable communities create healthy and vibrant downtowns and boost neighborhoods that attract millenials and baby boomers alike. Communities that offer real transportation choice, including biking and walking, ensure that EVERYONE has safe access to jobs, school, shops, and recreation alike. The future of transportation in American communities includes biking and walking.

Just this month, almost 400 Mayors from across the country signed a letter encouraging Congress to bolster — not weaken — the Transportation Alternatives program, hailing it as a vital tool to build local transportation options. Don’t allow Congress to take away local control — tell your Senator to vote NO and voice their support for transportation choice.

The committee votes tomorrow morning — take action now!

Always be Prepared

June 17, 2014

You might recognize the name Jerry Dusterhoff. He is the man behind the book “Bicycle Journeys with Jerry.” Jerry’s also a Bicycle Sport Shop club member and on a recent ride last month was reminded of the old adage to always be prepared. Here’s his account of a comedy of errors. Hopefully it reminds all of us to make sure we’ve got a plan for the typical roadside mechanical–the dreaded puncture–and to make sure we’re up for the challenge by taking a maintenance class like those offered at BSSU.  (You can check out Jerry’s full blog here.)

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IT WASN’T GRAVEL

When you ride in a group, in our case no more than two wide, the accepted protocol is to point or yell out obstacles to give the folks behind an heads-up was to what they are approaching. “Glass” “hole” and “gravel” are what most of these obstacles are, with an occasional “car up.” Glass and hole are self-explanatory, but gravel, while it mostly means loose rocks or pebbles, can mean any sort of loose stuff on the ground. I was prepared for gravel. What I got was something else. Can’t say for sure, but in a split-second, I had two flat tires.
At first I thought I had escaped with an easy front tire change out. But then my back tire was pointed out to me. Bad words flooded my head (but didn’t escape on my tongue). I only had one spare tube. Not to worry, we had sixteen riders who all had spares they could lend me. While I worked on the front tire, ride-leader Carolyn worked on the back. We used CO2 cartridges to speed things along, but tried to get by with just one. The front wheel was done, after I had run my fingers around the inside to check for foreign matter. The back tire needed more air, so I got out my trusty hand-pump and got it up to decent level. In removing it, I managed to break off the top of the valve stem. Fortunately, it stayed closed. I didn’t lose any additional air.
But experienced cyclists know that CO2 seeps through tubes much quicker than air, so the back tire, already soft, would do nothing but get more soft in the next few hours. Things got worse. Todd pointed out that my ready-to-mount front tire, while not having any glass or wire or stuff sticking in it, did have a large gash in the sidewall. Pook ding-fu!! The extended delay added to my frustration. I hate holding up the group. To ease my tension, Todd (after taking our picture) took the rest of the folks, leaving Carolyn and … I never got his name, my bad, to assist in getting me back on the road.
Jerry gets an assist from Carolyn.

Jerry gets an assist from Carolyn.

Not to worry!  I carry a “boot” in my saddle pack. In this case, the “boot” is a four inch section of old tire. We let the air out, inserted the boot, and replaced the tube (this is the Reader’s Digest version). Somehow, in getting the tire back on the rim, I pinched the tube. Now we need another tube and some more CO2. A rider not with our group stopped and offered his CO2. Thank you very much. This is getting old quick.
On the rare occasions when I have had a flat while out riding, I usually bring the tube home and do a post-mortem, and if it is just one hole that is fixable, will patch it up and continue on. The frustration of getting two flats, only having one tube, missing the gash in the tire, and putting another tube out of commission really put me off my game. When we got to the gas station turn-around spot in Creedmore, where the rest of the group waited, I just tossed the tubes. And, knowing my back tire was continuing to bleed air, advised Todd I ‘d move on out, and they could catch me on the way in.
It wasn’t such a bad ride back, about sixteen miles, but I took the corners cautiously, not wanting to roll the back tire off the rim. As I rode I continued to stew about missing the gash when checking the tire. The group caught up right before getting to the bike shop. I immediately purchased two new tires (there was nothing wrong with my back tire, but I changed from 700×23 to 700×25), and replacement tubes and cartridges for my friends who donated to my plight. Quite an expensive ride today.
Make sure you're prepared. Details on course offerings can be found here.

Make sure you’re prepared. Details on course offerings can be found here.

Once home I washed the bike and swapped out tires and tubes. But I had to sacrifice another tube to the gods. I have yet to put on new tires without damaging at least one tube, no matter how careful I am. So it is back to the bike shop for two more tubes to carry in my saddle pack, and more CO2 cartridges, plus a new mechanism for the cartridges. The one I have is Spartan and difficult to use. I waited an extra day before posting this in order to let my ire expire. It hasn’t. It will probably never happen again, but if it does, I’ll be prepared.

Help BikeTexas Win a Dream Bike Room!

April 25, 2014

 

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From our friends at BikeTexas. Help them win a dream bike room for their offices right here in Austin! It’s a matter of Texas pride!

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Please vote now for BikeTexas to win a Dream Bike Room from Dero!

 

If you’ve ever visited the BikeTexas office, chances are you’ve seen our bike fleet. We use them for events like our legislator rides, where we get as many elected officials as possible onto a bike so they can see what riding a bike in Texas is all about.

 

Chances are, if you’ve visited our office, you’ve also tripped over a bike, or come pretty close.

 

We’re changing that right now. BikeTexas is a finalist in the Dero Bike Racks Dream Bike Room contest– a chance to win $7500 in Dero products to get our bikes safely stored off the floor so we have space to walk around without accidentally starting a game of bicycle dominoes.

 

We need your help! Voting is tight and the other competitors–based in Pittsburgh– want it as badly as we do. Are you going to let Pennsylvania win over Texas? We didn’t think so. Please vote for BikeTexas today and then spread the word to all your friends! (Hint– there’s a line of social share buttons at the top of this email. All you have to do is click!) Voting just takes a few seconds.

 

And once we win, we’d love for you to come visit and enjoy the result. Please vote now! The contest closes at 11:59 PM April 30.

 

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ARTCRANK: Austin

April 24, 2014

Are you ready for ARTCRANK? Do you know what ARTCRANK is? Rather than explain it to you, Patrick Murphy, ARTCRANK’s Media Director got us the lowdown from the Founder and Creative Director of the show, Charles Youel. In short, ARTCRANK is an exhibition of bicycle-inspired posters that showcases talented local artists and lets visitors purchase affordable, original artwork while also expanding the cycling community. You can find out more about ARTCRANK at artcrank.com and about this Friday’s show on Facebook here.

Here’s the backstory on ARTCRANK!

———-

Answers by Charles Youel, Founder and Creative Director of ARTCRANK:

How did ARTCRANK start?

The seeds of the idea for the show started germinating in 2006. I was working for an advertising agency in Minneapolis, and basically just needed a creative outlet that didn’t involve clients, budgets, meetings or agency politics. I’ve always loved bikes, and working with graphic designers instilled a fascination with printing, especially posters. After seeing what Jeff Johnson of Spunk did with Poster Offensive, I thought to myself, “People might dig posters about bikes.” Turns out they do.

What event took place to give you the idea to start ARTCRANK?

Basically, I was bored with my job. I was working at an advertising agency, and as much as I loved getting paid to make stuff up, the projects I was doing were just soul-suckingly dull. At the same time, the guys that I rode bikes with were all designers and art directors. And when we were out riding, we’d do what people always do on bike rides, which is bitch about our jobs. In late 2006, I was at an art show of political posters, and I ran into a friend who owned a bike shop in Minneapolis. As we were talking, it finally hit me: You know all of these super-talented designers who love bikes and hate their jobs. Do a bike poster show. So I basically turned to him and blurted out “Bike poster show.” It took him exactly half a second to say “yes,” and we staged the first-ever ARTCRANK show at his shop less than six months later, in April 2007.

You’ve now taken ARTCRANK to cities all over the country, and even the world. Did you ever expect such a big response?

Not at all. I still go into every show with a sense of amazement at how bicycles inspire creativity in artists and designers, and how many people see their own lives and experiences reflected in the work. I’ve stopped trying to imagine where things might go next, because the reality has turned out better than anything I’d dare to dream up.

photo courtesy of ARTCRANK

photo courtesy of ARTCRANK

What’s your favorite ARTCRANK memory?

I tend to get pretty locked in to management mode at our openings, which means I’m constantly on the prowl, making sure that the posters are hanging straight, that there’s enough change in the registers, that the beer hasn’t run out, that people are having a good time. When we did our first show in London in 2010, in the middle of the opening, my wife tracked me down in the middle of the room, grabbed my hand and basically dragged me out across the street from the venue. The place was full, and there were people lined up waiting to get in. She said, “I just want you to stand here and enjoy what you did for a minute, OK?” That one’s pretty hard to top.

What is the goal/purpose of ARTCRANK ?

We want to give artists and designers an opportunity to create poster about something they love. And we want to hold events that give people an opportunity to enjoy those works of art in an atmosphere that’s very different from a traditional gallery or museum.

What is your philosophy/mission?

I think our philosophy boils down to “Make art as accessible as bicycles are.” Learning to ride a bicycle is one of those experiences that everyone I’ve ever met has in common. Even people who wouldn’t call themselves “cyclists” remember learning how to ride a bike. The day that the training wheels came off, that first moment of freedom when mom or dad let go, when you understand how moving your feet can make you fly. Everyone understands that, but a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of art. ARTCRANK creates an opportunity for people to discover art that they can identify with — art that’s created by people who live in the same city, the same neighborhoods they do.

photo courtesy of ARTCRANK

photo courtesy of ARTCRANK

Why is the bicycle at the heart of your work? What is the link between art and bicycle?

Riding a bicycle is an act of creative expression, an art form that changes every time a person goes for a ride. I can ride the same streets every day, but it’s always a different experience, and I see the world in a different way. Bicycles are simple, beautiful machines, and I think that spare aesthetic appeals to artists and designers in particular. But I truly believe that riding a bicycle inspires people to create, to want to make something.

What was the first show like?

Overwhelming. We expected maybe 50 people to show up. We got 500. I think the only thing we weren’t prepared for was that the show would be a success.

What was the motivation behind it?

Basically, I was bored with my job. I was working at an advertising agency, and as much as I loved getting paid to make stuff up, the projects I was doing were just soul-suckingly dull. At the same time, the guys that I rode bikes with were all designers and art directors. And when we were out riding, we’d do what people always do on bike rides, which is bitch about our jobs. In late 2006, I was at an art show of political posters, and I ran into a friend who owned a bike shop in Minneapolis. As we were talking, it finally hit me: You know all of these super-talented designers who love bikes and hate their jobs. Do a bike poster show. So I basically turned to him and blurted out “Bike poster show.” It took him exactly half a second to say “yes,” and we staged the first-ever ARTCRANK show at his shop less than six months later, in April 2007.

How many people were involved, then versus now?

At first, it was basically just me. Now, we have six people in Minneapolis, one in London and a network of people who help us out all over the U.S.

What do the shows look like now?

The basic format hasn’t changed much: We still recruit local artists to create posters about bikes, and throw parties where we sell art. We’ve standardized some things like pricing — all posters sell for $40 — and we’ve developed systems to make the whole operation run smoothly. Apart from that, the biggest difference is that we do the show 10-12 times a year instead of one. And I spend a lot more time in airports than I used to.

Process of putting on a show?

We figure it takes a year of planning, recruiting, preparation and promotion to successfully launch the show in a new city. The most challenging parts are finding the right venue and the recruiting the right artists. That’s especially tough when we’re working in new communities where we don’t know the cycling and creative culture as well.

Do cities reach out to you?

That’s usually how it starts. When we first started expanding outside of Minneapolis, we probably grew faster than we should have, and there were some rough spots. But I feel like we’re settling in to a good number of shows now. Of course, we just added three new U.S. cities and a show in Paris. So we’ll see how that goes.

photo courtesy of ARTCRANK

photo courtesy of ARTCRANK

Connection Between Art and Bikes:

Riding a bicycle is an act of creative expression, an art form that changes every time a person goes for a ride. I can ride the same streets every day, but it’s always a different experience, and I see the world in a different way. Bicycles are simple, beautiful machines, and I think that spare aesthetic appeals to artists and designers in particular. But I truly believe that riding a bicycle inspires people to create, to want to make something.

Favorite artists/posters?

I fall in love at least 10 times a show, so it’s pretty much impossible to pick a favorite artist. I know it sounds like diplomatic BS, but it’s true. My favorite things about the show is that, even after looking at literally thousands of posters about bicycles over the years, people still come up with stuff that blows me away. That never gets old.

ACTION ALERT: Tell US DOT That Bicyclists’ Safety Counts

April 22, 2014

action alert headers final

From our friends at the League of American Bicyclists: tell US DOT that bicyclists’ safety counts!

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There is only one acceptable number: 0.

While cities like New York and San Francisco have set decisive “Vision Zero” targets to dramatically reduce bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities, the U.S. Department of Transportation has just released proposed safety measures that have no goal, no accountability and no attempt to reduce the 16% of all fatal crashes that include people who walk and bike.

Your comments count: Tell US DOT that we can’t turn a blind eye to the 45,000 bicyclists injured and 5,000 cyclists and pedestrians killed on our roadways each year - we must have a national goal to make biking and walking a safe transportation option. 

Take Action.

In 2012, Congress asked the US DOT to set national goals to guide federal, state and local investments in our transportation system. After meeting with USDOT and FHWA officials, we knew they were unlikely to include a specific non-motorized performance measure - or goal to reduce bike/ped deaths. Unfortunately, on March 11 we were proved right: FHWA issued a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” that acknowledged our request - but chose not to include one.

Now, they’re asking for comments – and they need to hear from you. Please endorse the League’s comments or submit your own.

Our analysis: The overall safety performance measure lacks vision, accountability, and urgency. There is NO actual target set for reducing the number of people killed on our roads. States are asked to make “significant progress” towards two of four proposed measures, with a margin of error that could see fatality and injury numbers actually increase.

At a time when many local agencies are adopting a “Vision Zero” traffic safety target, and as bicycle and pedestrian fatalities are increasing as a percentage of overall traffic fatalities, we believe FHWA’s proposal is grossly inadequate – and sets a troubling precedent for subsequent national performance management measures on congestion and pavement condition.

We can’t allow our national safety standards to have Zero Vision - please send your comments on the safety performance measure to US DOT today.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/link/target/bikeleague/J7tiRPKzP.aspx 

Through the Ringer: the Castell Grind

April 16, 2014

The Castell Grind held earlier this month was billed as a “gravel grinder race in the Texas hill country.” And while not everyone raced the event, some taking the time to enjoy the remarkable scenery and peaceful dirt lanes, there were those riders that decided to test their mettle over either the 100k (62 mile) or 50k (31 mile) courses. Regardless of planned pace, everyone there was unsure of what to expect, even if they had the experience of the Holey Roller under their belt.

The appeal of a gravel grinder is that there’s a little something for everyone. For those that want to get after it a bit, it’s a race, while for others it’s a ride. For racers, it eschews the formalities of a sanctioned event, with a “winner take all” approach for the men’s and women’s fields (there are no categories or age groups). For riders it presents unique challenges in that courses are generally unmarked and there are no rest stops or course support to speak of. It’s a road ride, but on dirt. It’s a cyclocross race, but longer and without barriers, it’s a mountain bike race, but without any single track. In short, it’s bike riding and racing.

Along with a couple of other Bicycle Sport Shop Cyclocross Club members, I was there in Castell, TX to put some early 2014 fitness to the test and see if I couldn’t ride my way into the top 5 of those taking on the “Full Grind.” Joey Machado came along with me, and relative newcomer to cyclocross and bike racing in general, Dan Pedroza, was tackling the “Half Grind.” Here’s our report.

Castell, TX played host to the first annual Castell Grind earlier this month.

Castell, TX played host to the first annual Castell Grind earlier this month.

“Going in I knew I had what I like to call the ‘minimal amount of training’ to be competitive. I had no idea what the pace would be like for the start, much less the entire 100k race,” noted Joey. From the gun the front of the race was quick, covering the first 10 or so miles in a single file line of riders at an average of about 20 mph. Mind you, the course was probably in the neighborhood of 90% dirt/loose gravel/washboard farm roads. Knowing the wind and terrain would separate the group at some point, I tried to ride as close to the front as possible.

At about mile 9 I slid out of the front and rolled back to Joey and mentioned that up to that point, the race had been “no joke” to which Joey responded, “Daniel is this a dirt crit, or what?” Neither of expected the race to be that fast out of the gate for such an extended period of time, nor could we talk much more. We both thought the pace would let up some, but it turned out it never did.

Me and Joey at the pre-race meeting.

Me and Joey at the pre-race meeting. Photo courtesy of our buddy Chad.

Unbeknownst to us, Dan was in our front group to early on too. “While the Holey Roller was labeled just a ‘ride’ for all levels of cyclists, the Castell Grind is basically considered a race. I didn’t know this until the morning of the event when Daniel said his plan was to win the 100k. Win? Win what? A few tacos and a beer?  Then the morning riders meeting confirmed that for those interested in ‘going for it’ it was a race,” said Dan.

“Since I didn’t have a riding buddy,” Dan continued, “I had already planned on riding as hard as I could for as long as I could. A lesson I learned from cyclocross is that the start is everything. Lose touch with the front runners and you’ll never catch them. So I moved to the front group at the start and planned to stay with them as long as possible. Right off the bat the top riders were trying to drop weaker cyclists, just like I’ve heard folks talk about at the Driveway. I fell off the pack twice forcing me to sprint out of the saddle to regain contact. The third time I fell back around mile 10-12 was it. We descended a small hill into a creek bed then immediately took a left turn up a hill where I found myself in the wrong gear. By the time I downshifted the pack was gone. I was upset for making such a dumb mistake because I still felt like I could stay with them at least for a few more miles but no such luck. At this point I thought I was on my own.”

Like Dan, that creek bed did me in a bit too. Coming towards it was a slight downhill followed by a left across a mostly dry, but still with some water and a patch of mud creek, and the other side presented a short, steep pitch. As the front of the group came into the creek I had a Ziploc bag of cookies in my teeth, one hand on the bars, and the other in a pocket looking for a Thunderbird bar I had opened before the start. Needless to say I too was fumbling about on my shifters drifting towards the back of the group as riders went around me. Luckily I was able to hang on—and get that much needed snack.

Joey and I hid in the draft of the front riders for a handful miles after the creek bed. At mile 12 or so we were a group of about 50 and just 3 miles later we were a group of about 22 out front and guys were coming off the pace pretty quick. I just knew the top 5 riders would come from the front this group. But despite what happened to us both at about mile 18, I didn’t know that both Joey and I would still have a chance to be in there, and we still didn’t know Dan was having the ride of his short, new racing career.

For Joey, mile 18 was a misjudged line. “At mile 18 I came off the front by choosing a bad line, which caused me to sink in some thick quicksand-like dirt. Before I could downshift and roll out a gap had opened. I got moving and held my pace until I and another rider came to a short section of asphalt. We hit the turn to the pavement at crit speed and sprinted out of it taking turns pulling to get across. Luckily the lead group had just eased up so we were able to make contact in less than a mile but as soon as we latched on us 11 riders total turned onto the dirt again and it seemed the group picked up the pace just enough to make it hurt–again.”

For me mile 18 was a lost bottle. Not the disaster it could have been—I saw some riders eject both of theirs and have to stop to get them, but with one lost bottle I figured “well, I’ll refill at the half way point at the mandatory check-in.” Still I was coming off the pace some, less confident than some of the experienced MTB racers on the faster downhill sections across the loose terrain. So I was dangling off the back put passing those that were struggling more than me. I could see Joey, up ahead, just off the very front group and then they were all out of sight as the made the turn onto the short pavement stretch. And I too had a rider that I was sharing the chase workload with, but unlike Joey, we couldn’t get pack to those front 11. At this point, we were 12th and 13th on the road with Joey looking to be in about 11th.

Dan took to the Castel Grind on a 2014 trek Boone from the shop's rental department.

Dan took to the Castel Grind on a 2014 trek Boone from the shop’s rental department.

For Dan, the Castell Grind was a redemption ride of sorts. “When I first learned about the Holey Roller in February, I thought, ‘Fun!  Riding on gravel and dirt! A cyclocross ride!’ I was mistaken. It was the most difficult ride I ever finished. I managed to make it extra hard by riding a loose saddle that slowly slid all the way back on its rails over the first 25 miles. By the time I figured out why my back was on fire I still had another 25 miles to ride. So I chose to sign up for Castell because I still had fun riding on gravel roads. I also felt I had to redeem myself from such a miserable performance that was based on a simple mistake that I made. The course didn’t beat me, I beat myself, and I had to fix that.”

Staying focused, Dan did better than make up for his Holey Roller ride. “This is not a ride, it’s a race,” remembered Dan–perhaps inspired by my pre-race comment that I was planning to win.  “Maintaining speed was my goal,” noted Dan. “At the point I lost the front group my Garmin read that my average speed was 20.3 mph, a pace I’ve never maintained for that long even on asphalt. And while I completely expected it to drop, my goal was to keep it as high as possible for as long as I could. After a slight touch of wheels with riders that I didn’t even know were behind me, we trudged on, working together, sharing the workload for the next 10 miles.”

As Dan closed in on the end of the Half Grind, Joey and I were looking at another 50k. “The washboard sections were making me feel like I was being bucked and forced me hold my bars with a death grip. The constant effort cost me falling off the back of the top-10 group and repeatedly having to surge back. They were just ahead of me when I made it to the halfway point check-in station but given the bottle-neck there, I was able to re-connect.”

The awards ceremony awaited the riders.

The awards ceremony awaited the riders.

Joey and the leaders couldn’t have been too far ahead of me and the rider I was with since as we rolled in someone shouted “they just left!” With only one bottle I had to stop and top it off and that meant that my chase partner and I had company in the form of riders coming up from behind quick—eight other guys plus the lead woman rider. But we eleven weren’t going to be chasing the front eleven for long.

Joey’s mistake, in hindsight of course, was burring himself to stay in that lead group. “As we rolled onto the second loop, two guys surged ahead and soon we all took an ill-fated wrong turn.  About a half-mile in we all stopped and shouted to the two leaders but they were too far up and could not hear us. As we turned around and headed back the pace picked up. I was able to hang maybe 4 or 5 miles as I need to munch on some food. But after I became detached I got into a comfortable solo pace.”

Of course, my group didn’t know the front group made a wrong turn and that we were actually the leaders on the road. Us eleven quickly became eight as we rode a steady pace surging only occasionally. A couple of times on the second, North Loop I came off the bike in loose sand as the bike got out from under me. Mistakes no doubt caused by tiredness, hunger knock, and just plain inattentiveness. On one of those occurrences I came off my group and was riding solo, trying to maintain an even, comfortable pace. At that point, with those seven riders leaving me behind, and what I figured was Joey’s group of eleven up front I figured I was 19th or so on the road—top 20 was still possible with about 10 miles to go.

Joey and I then had similar experiences albeit a few miles apart. “The two leaders who were the first to make the wrong turn caught me and were kind enough to let me tag along as they were trying to make up for lost time. I was able to pull on and off with them until mile 51 or so then I just settled into a comfortable pace to the finish, noted Joey.” For me, those two riders had caught one between Joey and I and were actually three riders—and I sat on them, unable to take any pulls, for about a mile before coming unhitched and watching them ride off in pursuit of my former group at about mile 54. It was talking to them before they dropped me that I learned about the wrong turn and that I had, in fact, been in the lead group. Dang it. I would go on to finish 11th overall and Joey rolled in shortly thereafter in 13th.

Dan, the guy that didn’t know it was a race, had a different end to his day. “With five miles to go the washboard roads along with the deep sand made handling the bike extremely difficult,” for Dan. “At two miles to the finish it was a slight incline on slightly cobbled roads. I just kept pushing as hard as I could. No more drafting, it was just me, the cows, and the finish line. I finally reached the last quarter mile, which was actual smooth highway pavement. I sprinted toward the finish trying to keep up my average mph. When I came through the checkpoint/finish they told me that I was the first 50k finisher. How did that happen? Surely there were some 50k riders in the first lead group? Nope.”

Dan continued, “I was happy with myself for working as hard as I could for almost two hours.  While I obviously couldn’t maintain my 20.3 mph pace, I did manage 17 mph for the ride, which is actually a personal best. I can’t even recall a road ride that I’ve averaged that high, and I only managed about 14 mph at the Holey Roller!  I attribute this to two major factors. First, the lead group was my rabbit. Without their initial pace I never would have pushed as hard as I did. Second, the Trek Boone, which I had rented from Bicycle Sport Shop just for the Castell Grind, was magnificent. And I brought home my first cycling trophy ever, which to me means the world.”

To the victor, goes the spoils. Dan took first in the 50k Half Grind!

To the victor, goes the spoils. Dan took first in the 50k Half Grind!

“In the end I realized I gave this race everything I had,” said Joey. “And I was very happy that I was able to ride at that pace and distance on a Texas tough course! Kudos to those who kept on course and finished ahead. After all, navigating is a part of the gravel grinder experience! My body felt destroyed afterward, but I had a huge smile on my face all weekend.” Like Joey, I was pleased with the effort and content with the result and wondering a bit about what might have been.

Each of us had unique, memorable experiences that will have us back in Castell, TX—which played the part of host wonderfully—in 2015. Hope to see you there.

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