Bike 3:05:11  89.16 km (2:05 / km) +575m 2:01 / km
Gran Fondo Hincapie - Fort Worth. "50-mile" route that was actually 89km. 3:08 on the course but Garmin didn't count the 3 min stopped at the aid stations.
When I first saw this event I was excited. I thought it would be fun to have such a high-profile event close by. When I went to register and saw that it was $200+ dollars I couldn't believe it. How could it be that much? I searched around the website looking for a charity or cause that surely must be involved and couldn't find anything. I guess the "cause" is just Corporate Hincapie. So I thought no way I am paying this much money. Then I became curious. What kind of nut would pay that much for a 1 day ride? Lisa gave me permission to undertake the anthropological study to see what kind of nut pays $200+ for a bike ride. I figure that the event must at least be very well produced.
Due to some vagueness in the event description I ended up getting there way too early. This gave me plenty of time to watch the rain and wind come down, while wondering why I didn't bring a hat and long finger gloves for 52F. My brain has shifted to warm-weather mode and even though I saw the weather report it just didn't register. Folks weren't that excited to venture out of their cars and one of the guys beside me just left. Got to the line at 8:30 and while the rain had stopped the wind felt very cold. The announcer cheerfully counted down telling us fun things like, "We're just about ready to start... in another 20 min."
George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong and Christian Van de Velde all line up in front. I couldn't see them but they did amusing interviews over the intercom. Lance is actually quite humorous these days.
Finally got going. I set my HR alarm at 135. My goal was to do a bike "ride" not a "race." I'm too busy to put myself in another physical hole. The effort felt a little hard and I had to keep backing off a bit and it seemed like everybody and their brother and sister were passing me.
On the plus side, the roads dried out fast given the 30+mph gusting winds. On the negative side, the course getting out of town wasn't all that inspired. And I'll just get this comment out of the way -- the overall course as a whole was uninspired. A lot of miles with traffic, development or both. There were some nice sections like going along the west side of the lake through the park. However, the course was about $40 nice, not $200 nice. That was disappointing. Also disappointing were the aid stations. Again, they were very superficial like a local strapped for funds and volunteers type set ups. I'd say these were $25 aid stations. Disappointing.
I had signed up to do the 80mi route however I had decided in the car that that was not happening. The course was south first, then back home heading north into the wind. The 80 route would just be too many head-down slog it out miles into the wind; that is not what I wanted to do today. So, I took the right turn at the split to go with the 50mi guys. I was working with a couple of guys for a bit but it seemed like every time I pulled I was dropping them so I'd have to ease a bit. After the aid station I tried to work with another guy, then 3 other guys, then a guy and 2 gals, then later 3 other guys. However, I'd end up dropping all these little groups. There were two young guys who passed me early on that I eventually caught with about 12km to go. First I got yelled at for not announcing myself properly. Then I said sorry. Then they zoomed by and so I latched on this time properly announcing, "I'm on your wheel." Then we did two rotations and on my second turn pulling I dropped them. I swear I hadn't increased my effort. Maybe I was just stinky or looked funny. Rode the last 10k by myself. In the end, I spent a lot more time with my nose exposed than covered. Just was out of sync with the groups today.
Grabbed my finish medal while still moving and rode straight to the car to get warm cloths on. Thought I'd eat lunch at the restaurant that was right there but it was way too busy. Walked around Mellow Johnny's bike shop; it was very busy and festive and given that the MJ empire is owned by Lance it probably explains why the course HQ was at this spot. It also gives me little hope for a course revision next year.
I finished 22 / 281 in the "50-mile Medio" event. If I held my same pace for another 25 miles I would have finished 48 / 266; I think that would have been doable if I had friendly people to work with instead of my mostly solo ride. That's just my ego surmising though.
In the end, when measured against the entry fee the event was a high-quality media production but low quality actual event production. They did give out very nice Hincapie jersey's and a bottle of wine but I would trade those for a better course experience (and I am of course not blaming the event for the weather -- weather just is). I also got a car freshener thing, which given the general smelly-sock state of my car was the most needed piece of swag that I got.
I went to Chipotle for lunch. It was only 3km from Pat and Karen's so afterward I swung but their house. I ran up to the door, set the bottle of wine on the steps, rang the doorbell, ran away and then drove away. Ha! I learned later that Karen spotted me. The bottle also had a Hincapie label on it so that would have given me away anyway.