HCR 200k Ride Report
The first Hill Country Randonneurs Brevet of 2007 is now one for the record books.
The weather called for a windy day with winds forecasted between 10 and 15 mph with
lows around 48 and highs in the low 50ís. There was also a 10% chance of rain.
At the start was the usual pre-ride preparation. Everyone arrived around 5:45 am
and began preparing their bikes in earnest. There was a full moon, but no one could
see it through the clouds. In all, 14 riders showed up, 1 from Virginia, 3 from the
Dallas area, 1 from Eagle Pass, and 9 from the Austin area. Just as we were about to
push off at a few minutes past 6am, a light rain started. It was soon clear that it
would be a long day.
The first control was a Walgreens about 25 miles into the ride. There were at least 3
flats just getting to the Walgreens, and, to make things worse, it was a howling head wind
most of the way there. All these things conspired for a very slow start. Most of the
riders got to the Walgreens between 8:20 and 8:30, a foreshadowing of the day ahead.
During the stretch to the next control, 55 miles away in Johnson City, things just got
worse. First, one of the riders flatted for a second time and blew a hole in his tire.
Luckily, he was near a bike shop. He went in to get a new tire. Just after they put on
a new tire in the rear, his front tire blew and ripped, so he needed that replaced as well.
His timing could not have been better.
The ride out to Johnson City was hilly, windy, and rainy, though it was a cross wind most
of the way, so it was a relief after the long headwind. The hills were never ending; I
donít think there was a flat stretch in the whole 55 miles. What was amazing about this
stretch was the number of riders we encountered on the road going the other way. Usually
on rainy days, the roads are empty of cyclists, but not this day.
The rain would change between non-existent to misting to a light drizzle. I have often
wondered what 10% change of rain means. Does it mean that 1 out of 10 times with that
weather pattern it rains? Does it mean that it is raining in 10% of the area? I have come
to the conclusion that it is a statement about the size of the rain drops. It was a light
rain for most of the day. When we got to Johnson City, there was a staffed control.
They had enough food to feed an army; it bordered on ridiculous. The volunteers were very
helpful and eager to please.
The final stretch back was along the same hilly road we had taken out. There was one
13% grade climb 6 miles from the end that most of us could have done without. In the end
it was a difficult way to ride 200k (actually it was 128 miles) with cold, rain, wind and
plenty of hills. One of the most challenging 200kís I have ever done. 9 of the 14 starters
finished, a considerable number given the nasty conditions; kudos to the riders who finished.
Pictures of the ride are available here.
A special thanks to the SAG/SUPPORT/Rest Stop Crew/Photographers of Alain Nimri, Mark McCann,
and Dave Hargis, without them, the ride would have been even more difficult then it was.
Finishers:- Mark Metcalfe