Real Ale Ride leaves me ailin’ (ride report)

Ignominy (IG’-na-min-ee): Great personal dishonor or humiliation (American Heritage Dictionary). Used in a sentence: The Real Ale Ride today ended in ignominy for the Bike Noob.

The Real Ale Ride in Blanco, Texas, could have been a great ride. All the elements were there. A beautiful day (OK, hot); nice Texas Hill Country scenery; a start and finish at a microbrewery (Real Ale) with beer and barbecue at the end.

Pat and I both signed up for the 50-mile route, from choices of 15, 30, 50, 65 and 85 miles. She was smart — realized she didn’t have enough mileage under her belt to do a 50, so cut back to the 30. I, on the other hand, was not so smart.

We got off to a good start. We met Jared from Just Another Nerd… and his friends Eric and Christine. They all planned to do the 50, too.

Eric, Christine, and Jared.

It didn’t take long for the hills to kick in. I think some bikers were caught by surprise at the extent of the hills, and their steepness. I was huffing and puffing just a few miles into the ride. This ride is organized by a local bike shop, and attracts a higher caliber of rider from both the Austin and San Antonio areas than most typical charity rides. The first rest stop is about 13 miles from the start. Typical remark while in line for the food and drink: “I was gonna do the 50, but I think I’m cutting it to 30 today.”

Rest Stop #1. We didn’t go over the hills in the background, but we did go through gaps to get past them. That involved climbing enough.

Hunting for bananas, and pickle juice, and…

Jared and friends decided to skip this stop, so I watched them head down the road. Since my bonk earlier this year, I am sensitive to keeping fueled while on a ride. Besides, it’s not a race, anyway. When I did get going, I made decent time to the second rest stop, and had caught up to them. Heading out from here, we picked up a ranch road with light traffic, and made better time.

Yep, that’s the Noob.

The ride goes through cattle country, and riders had to cross cattle guards at several points along the route. The signs warning of the cattle guards seem to carry a double meaning:

Someone needs to rein in their morals.

The ranch road brought us back to the first rest stop again. I plopped into a chair under an awning, drank my liquids and ate some food. The temperature was into the 90s by now, and some of the starch was coming out of me. The road out from the rest stop climbed through the passes over the hills in the earlier picture. I was in the largest cog of my compact double, and kicking myself for not getting the triple when I bought the bike. Then, I hit a hill I could not pedal up. That didn’t bother me — lots of others walked their bikes up it, too.

Will this guy make it, or will he have to walk his bike, too?

The beauty of a struggle up a hill like this one is that once you’re at the top, it’s downhill. Man, was it ever. At one point, the road dropped away out of sight. Once you hit the dropoff, your speed soared. I was going more than 35 mph, and could easily have hit 45, but some of the curves in the road made me uneasy. I feathered the brakes to keep from gaining too much speed, and kept it around 35. BANG! The rear tire let go like a shotgun blast. I kept the bike steady, and stopped to assess the damage.

Shredded rear tire. I’m guessing the heat buildup from the braking (no, I didn’t keep the brakes applied constantly — used mostly the front and hit the rear intermittently) caused the tire to blow. After a half hour, a sag wagon found me and drove me back to the start. I finished about 38 miles.

Pat was already there, having completed her 30-miler. She was fried. She pushed her very upright, heavy steel hybrid through those same hills, but when she got to the main intersection in downtown Blanco (pop. 1500) and realized she faced one more two-mile climb to the finish, it was almost more than she could take.

We didn’t even bother to stand in line for the beer and barbecue, but headed for home right away. Pat is now talking more seriously about a new, lighter, road-friendly bike, and I’m once again making a resolution to work hills into my weekly rides more than I do now. Upcoming rides? Talk to me after today recedes into my dim memory.

For another take on the ride, see comments left by Daren of the LMRA Bicycle Club of Ft. Worth on his club’s message board.

16 thoughts on “Real Ale Ride leaves me ailin’ (ride report)

  1. Pingback: Alcohol Posts » Real Ale Ride leaves me ailin’ (ride report)

  2. I’m impressed. Who would have thought that it would be that hilly in Texas?? I was skeptical but the profiles are impressive.

  3. Was the “Who would have thought that it would be that hilly in Texas” comment sarcasm? Crazy blow out story. I hit 43 on that hill. The chip seal road made it a little scary. Good recap of the ride. We did the 50, a friend was going to do 65 possibly 80 and almost didn’t make the 50. By the way, I just happened upon your blog and you have a great shot of me and my neighbor. 3rd picture I’m in the Lone Star jersey and he is in the RAGBRAI jersey.

  4. Dana, now you see why it’s called the Texas Hill Country. It’s not mountainous — they’re farther west — but the hills can be challenging.
    Louis, what a fluke about the picture. If you’re interested, I could e-mail you the large size original. rainycamp at yahoo dot com.

  5. Sure, I’d like to have the pic. I also saw that ‘Just Another Nerd’ has me at the start. If you don’t mind I’d like the hill shot as well for my cycling site’s gallery. Great shot of people walking. I have a shot of that hill looking down but not up. Thought I was going to break a chain getting to the top.

  6. Great report. I walked a few times myself. I climbed worse, but not so far from home. I am one of those that signed for the 50 and rode the 30. My bike computer registerd 47.9 on that down hill, probably could have topped 50 but I didn’t want to run over anyone. Can’t image a blow out at that speed. The BBQ was good, the beer was good(no line for that), and the music was good. The only problem I could see was they should have had the music and food in the shade.

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  8. good recap–my friend and i also did the 50 miler, tho several others made the same choice as pat and shortened to 30. i realize now that you’re the guy we ran into and sent the sag wagon back for–can’t believe your tire blew on the big downhill–yikes! overall, we loved the route and plan to ride it again soon, but hopefully this ridiculously hot weather will break a bit–or at the very least we’ll start earlier! would love for any/all of the posters here to join us…now we just have to convince the brewery to give us beer when we’re done!

  9. Pingback: Phwfffffssssst! Duh… « Bike Noob

  10. Hello,
    I found this site a bit late, but figured it’s worth a shot. For those of your readers and yourself who enjoyed the ride, I just wanted to inform you of the University of Texas Cycling Sweatin’ Burnt Orange Bike Tour this Sunday, November 2. It is the same route as the Real Ale Ride (the Real Ale Ride was actually modeled after our ride), but since it is in November, the weather is much more favorable than the end of May Texas heat.

    Anywho, as I said, I realize it is rather late, but if you can’t make it out to the ride this year, there will always be next year!

    Miguel Corona
    Director, 2008 Sweatin’ Burnt Orange Bike Tour

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  12. Pingback: I was a ride volunteer « Bike Noob

  13. Just read your post! Are you riding the Real Ale Ride again this year? We’re so excited to have Team Ronald benefiting from the ride this year. Hope to see you out there again!

    Jan Gunter
    Communications Manager
    Ronald McDonald House Austin

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