Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shiner G.A.S.P.

Over the weekend I completed my first century ride, going from Austin to Shiner, TX in the Greater Austin to Shiner Pedal (G.A.S.P.). It was amazing, fun, difficult, and painful. All the things you want an endurance event to be!
Months ago, maybe even before Christmas, I started bugging a few others who bike about doing this. I was surprised when several expressed interested, and in the end five of us registered. So back in January/February we started with big training plans. Come April, my training slacked! Of myself, I discovered that I'm not as in love with biking as I once thought I would be. Anyway, I was registered, and I was going, ready or not.
Thursday afternoon, Vicki and I loaded my Honda with all of our stuff (who knew one tiny woman like Vicki and I could have so much!), and hit the road. My used bike rack was holding on to our bikes with all it had, and I certainly watched it like a hawk from my rear view mirror. After 10 or so hours, lots of laughs, and the inevitable Mexican food stop, we arrived to Lucas' (Vicki's son) apartment in Austin. They were out of town, so we unloaded, settled in, and crashed hard for the night. I was so proud of us and our ability to follow-through with our plans to get up for a Friday morning run in Zilker Park. It was amazing to run in a city that embraces fitness like Austin. I love Austin as it is, but this run made me fall in love even more. After the run, we did a quick Versus workout (that I had missed on Thursday), and headed for a breakfast taco, Mexican meal #2! My diet was already blown!
 This was a view from one of the spots on the trail in Zilker Park that circled Town Lake. Amazing!
This is the trail. LOVED it!
Shortly after the run and a shower, we met James, Charles and Jason at Jack and Adams Bike Shop to pick up our race stuff. This was a really cool bike shop with some cool folks working there. The crew was happy because beer was on tap! The newbie centurions, myself, Vicki and Jason, purchased the official G.A.S.P. jersey, and I elected to wear mine for the ride the next day. We walked down to another bike shop, then ended up driving over to Mellow Johnny's, the bike shop made famous by Lance Armstrong. After piddling around a while, it was lunch time, so we headed over to Shady Grove, one of my favorite spots in Austin.
James, Vicki and I then ended up on South Congress where we spent a few hours shooting the breeze at the Continental Club, which has been a popular Austin spot since the 50's. We had a good time there...  After that, we took James home, and headed home ourselves to prep for the race and rest!

Ride morning came early, but we caffeined up, loaded the bikes, and headed over to the start. It was chilly, but proved to be a beautiful day! I had never done a mass start before, over 1,000 riders, so I was a little nervous, although excited about it. It was very cool to look ahead and see all the colorful jerseys and bikes! With the sun to our left, we were off. Feeling good and getting warm, the nerves dissipated, and I settled in to ride. We arrived at the first rest stop at mile 17. It was almost like a party, there were so many people there! We grabbed some snacks, from peanuts to powdered donuts, and then got back on the road. We decided to stop at each rest area because why be in a rush? It proved to provide me with some rest to keep me going a little longer. We had some pretty serious winds and some definite serious hills, but the scenery was amazing. Very Texas, and I took it all in. After the second stop, I lost Vicki, but decided to meet her at the rest stops, which is what we did for the rest of the ride.
Rest stop 3, mile 45!
It started getting real in the second half. I was doing well actually, but with about 30 miles to go, I starting fading. Which is expected as I had only done limited rides at that distance during my training. I was pleased with how well I felt, and how long I kept it together though. At about mile 83, we passed over I-10, and a sign read "Shiner 19." I was happy to be in the home stretch, but also thinking, "crap, I have 19 more miles!" Of course these were the hilliest and hardest miles of them all. I lost close to a mile per hour of speed, and I think I was talking out loud to myself, possibly even cursing. Hey, whatever it takes.
Finally I saw the sign that sign Shiner City Limits, and I think I might have started crying. We turned into the Spoetzl Brewery, and I was DONE! I immediately got off my bike, but I was a little out of it and didn't know what to do. I retrieved my checked bag, and ended up seeing the guys. After a few minutes to collect myself, Charles graciously took my bike to load, and they pointed me in the direction of the shower. They waited on Vicki, then shortly after my shower, we were all reunited for some food and beer!
Like any endurance event, we took pictures and told war stories at the finish. That's always my favorite part of it all I think! The celebration is always worth the battle. We battled hills, wind, fatigue, and distance to get to the reward. The bus ride home was also an adventure. It was quite a rowdy crew who somehow convinced the driver to stop for more beer! We arrived in Austin, unloaded our bikes and all met back up for Mexican meal #3, this time with Lucas and Kari. I slept like a rock that night, and awoke early again on Sunday, this time to load the bikes once more for the ride home.

Shiner G.A.S.P. was amazing, and I loved the time in Austin. I happily put away my bike Sunday evening when I got home. It is in retirement for a few days, and I'm not sure when it comes back out what its purpose will be. As of now, no centuries in the plans, but I never say never!