TEAM BACCHETTA ATTEND TEXAS HELL WEEK

Hell Week starts on the same weekend of the Texas Hill Country 600km. Last year I spent a couple days of recovery with my crew that was staying on for Hell Week in Fredericksburg TX. I did a little eighty mile recovery spin with them one day and thought this is kind of cool.

For 2010 my crew from last years Hill Country 600km, Peggy and Steve Petty with the addition of Sara Kay Carrell rode a mixed four person relay team. The plan was to stay the week following in Fredericksburg for Hell Week. We stayed in a rented home with Linda and Mark Metcalf traditional rider. Mark has been long time Lone Star Randonneur and has done RAAM solo and team a few times. Mark also raced to third place overall in the solo THC600km this year.

Monday was a scheduled 200km brevet that Sara Kay really wanted to do to help fill out her quest for a Super rando series (200, 300, 400 and 600km brevets). Shellene Foster LSR rider and second place this year at Sebring 24 hour women’s race planned to do an easy 200km with us.

The 200km turned into a long day on the bike due to high head winds on the return, Shellene had a knee issue and I towed her as she one legged pedaled into the next to last control. Shellene had to throw in the towel at 100 miles while SK and I finished out the 200km at 10:24 minutes total time and 6900 feet of climbing. Peggy and Steve along with Linda took a more leisurely ride of 34 miles, a much better idea then the 200km.

Tuesday was forecasted cold, wet and windy. The crew opted to drive out to Enchanted Rock State Park and climb up one of the granite domes. We had a lot of fun climbing all over the dome but once again we did not gain very much recovery. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/enchanted_rock/

Wednesday’s weather brought nicer weather so we headed out to do the Stonewalled loop, a fun 58 mile ride with 2737 ft of climbing. We hooked up with Pat Diztler of Kansas City KS. Pat has a Bacchetta Strada that he failed to bring down with him but enjoyed visiting and getting the many questions he had answered while cruising thought the beautiful Hill Country.

Another great day of weather for riding greeted us for Thursday ride. The crew opted to do the Tunnel/Bach loop. This 50 mile loop took us up to 2042 of climbing with three very nice points of interest. First was the Old Bat Tunnel, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/wma/find_a_wma/list/?id=17.

BAT TUNNEL

BAT TUNNEL


Second stop was the Alamo Springs Café, http://www.alamospringscafe.com/, this place has one of the best hamburgers I have ever had and has been voted one of the best in Texas. They also had a special parking spot for Bacchetta’s!

Next stop was Luckenbach, TX to see Willie, Waylon and the boys. We hung around for a bit and enjoyed a cold Shiner beer. Then we rolled back into Fredericksburg glowing from another great ride on our Bacchetta’s.

Friday brought the last days of good weather for Hell Week and a ride out to the LBJ state park. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lyndon_b_johnson/ The wind did come up and convinced us not to push as our legs were still not recovered and we called it a day with 59 miles and 2705 feet of climbing.

It was a great week of recovery riding and sight seeing. Fredericksburg and Hell Week provide a great riding combination with good friends. I would highly recommend putting Hell Week on a ride vacation schedule.

ttp://www.raceacrossoregon.com/hillcountry/.

Texas Hill Country 600K

Let’s take a trip back to 2009 and the first running of the Texas Hill Country 600km (though not a true 600k at only 360 miles):  John Schlitter of Team Bacchetta won the overall with a time of 20:59 total time while Kent Polk, also of Team Bacchetta, finished fourth overall. They were the sum total of recumbents in attendance. 

But that was 2009 and ooohhh how things have changed!

This year’s race had thirteen solo entries with one recumbent rider, Chris Malloy, who sadly ran out of time and DNF’d along with two other soloists. There was also a field of two and four person mixed relay teams: one recumbent and one traditional bike. The two person relay teams consisted of two recumbent and two traditional mixed teams. 

The mixed four person relay team for recumbents included Peggy Petty, Steve Petty, Sara Kay Carrell and John Schlitter all of Team Bacchetta.  Kent Polk of Team Bacchetta rode with Greg Gross. 

Nuts and Honey B’s went up against Team Get Outdoors- RAAM: Candace Koska, Fred Boethling, Rick Boethling and Chad Pinson, while Team Cow’s Kent and Greg went up against Team GVH’s Cassie Nobbs and Tom Letsinger. 

Now that we have some ground work laid, I think it’s time to start the race report.  With a post-race recovery drink in his hand, and for the reader’s benefit of not having to decipher his writing, John has wisely put me, Sara Kay, in charge of the keyboard to record the ramblings of the other three racers while JS relaxes and dictates…enjoy! 

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First of all, a big thanks to Kent and Judy Polk for allowing us to take over their house for the Nuts and Honey Bees headquarters.  Second, thank you to David Bradley for designing the most wonderful route book! (Next year can we have pictures of the turns in the dark, too?!?). And also to George Thomas for hosting such a wonderful event!!! 

Despot John made the decision for the ladies to start the race.  Peggy, with no tire changing experience and butterflies flitting in her stomach, starts the race on a road notorious for producing flats.  We debate sending SK out with her during the first 5 miles for help with any potential mechanicals issues and then decide against it.  

The race is on. 

Peggy Starts It Off For Team Bacchetta

SK and Peggy take the first 3 hours of the race, rotating at 30 minute intervals with SK taking her first pull after Peggy makes it to the 15 mile mark.  It’s at this point where support vehicles can start leapfrogging.  For her part, Peggy was completely on her own for any mechanicals, food, navigation, etc., and did a great job holding off the field of racers.  She was the 3rd rider to make it to the 15 mile mark.  

SK took a pull and passed the girl rider for the two person team and held her off.  Then Peggy got on for her pull.  Shortly after she started riding, we get a frantic phone call from her: “my chain came off and it’s stuck!”  Seems the chain was thrown off and jammed between the BB and chain rings.  We’d just passed her and she wasn’t far back, so JS jumped out and fixed her up in two seconds.  But in that time frame we were passed by two teams, causing us to slip into last place- can you say RABBITS!! 

Rolling into TS 1 at Medina and it was the boys turn to get out and play.  The ladies rotated out of riding duty and into crewing duty. 

Steve takes off like a wild man.  The crew calls in the time station, fiddle dinks around a bit and then we get rolling down the road- thank goodness we put out a rule that everyone carries their cell phone during leapfrog support.  We take off and from the back seat I hear SK: “did we make the left .1 mile out of the time station?” 

Frenzy breaks out and you guessed it; over-exuberance mistake #1. 

Quick thinking takes over: “Peggy- call Steve!  Did he make the turn?!”  Nope, Steve didn’t make the turn.  SK was still in full riding attire from just getting off her pull.  We drove back to the turn, dropped off SK and the van shot up the road to retrieve Steve who was stopped and waiting for his rescue.  SK gained an extra 15 minutes of bonus ride time. 

Thank goodness the van got back to SK before she had to make the Eagles Nest climb.  Steve eagerly got back on the bike to attack Eagles Nest.  Breathless at the top, he exclaimed “I had to do that in my middle ring!”  SK to the rescue and the bike was not loaded on the rack until we had the little ring working properly.  

Up ahead and there they are- Team RAAM- in sight with about 6 minutes to catch them.  JS is ready to launch and close the gap.  Fred Boethling sees JS on the bike and says: “Great, now the big guns are out and we have to take up the rear!” 

One team down and now it’s time to pick off Team Cows. 

At this point, the boys have their two hours of racing in and it was time to get into the final plan with SK/JS and Peggy/Steve as A and B Team respectively.  It was SK/JS’s turn for race rotation and poor Peggy had to wait again before she could ride.  It would be 4.5 hours before she’d get her next shot. 

Just before a left turn towards Leaky, George caught up to JS, SK and Peggy, wanting a picture of his “Nut Bees” in action.  After two pictures, SK hollers to George to hurry up because our rider has a turn to make!  We already made that mistake once and determined not to make it again, caught up to Steve just as he was slowing down and questioning another racer’s crew about the turn. 

Over-exuberance mistake #2, this time with a little help from George. 

Back to the race.  No rabbits in sight and a mental note: the Cows are still up there.  Before long we have a sighting and JS makes the first pass of the Cows about 5 miles after Leaky.  He rolls by Kent.  Kent retaliates and passes SK, but JS returns the favor, quickly passing them back.  Then SK makes a final pass on Greg of Team Cows and at 6:17pm, mile 22 outside of Rock Springs, Peggy is 5 minutes ahead of Greg. 

We’ve dropped the hammer and the teams are far behind us- as long as we don’t make any more over-exuberant mistakes. 

Kent Polk Hammering Out The Miles!

We’re into chase mode and soon practicing our first Chinese fire drill of rider exchanges: One fire drill involves rider exchanges.  The second version involved rider and crew exchanges.  

The rider exchanges were by far the easier switch out: We only had to get the fresh racer out of the van (literally; the auto door decided not to work), their bike off the van, the rider and their bike into the headlights of the van, the retiring rider off the bike, their bike onto the rack and that rider into the van.  We did it all in 2 minutes or less. 

It was the crew and racer exchange which got the party started.  The retiring racer went into either navigator or driver position.  The retiring driver went into “get ready to race” position in the backseat.  The retiring navigator had gear shuttled up to them in the front seat to prepare as the next racer.  Then, after finding a good spot to pull over for the rider exchange, we all got out of the van and had a Pee Party (literally- we all called a side of the van to pee!).  We then put a new racer on a bike as they waited patiently in the headlights as the bikes were rearranged to match the new order of racers. And down the road we went.  Those exchanges took no more than 3 minutes- amazing! 

On a side note, this arrangement all works fine as long as the bike stack is in the correct order on the rack.  Hence race over-exuberance mistake #3: SK is on the bike and an exchange is coming up.  SK sees Peggy set up and ready to roll.  SK approaches.  Peggy does not take off for a hot swap.  SK hears mumbling and JS waves her on to keep going.  SK keeps rolling and finally puts the mumbling together as “Wrong Bike, but keep going!”  Well, we found out Peggy does not fit JS’s 700c CA2.0 very well.  Only once during the race did we do that…more bonus time for SK! 

One by one, we start picking of the solo riders and ….what’s that…..a Christmas tree?  Oh yeah- our very own Sharon “Lone Star” Stevens is up ahead!  JS tells Peggy over the speakers that she can talk to Sharon for a few minutes.  Sharon is ecstatic to see and have Peggy to talk to.  Sharon was in very good spirits and thinking about at nap in Llano.  This was at 10:48pm.  Not long after this we pass Vickie Tyer, also in good spirits.  We finally passed Mark Metcalfe 12 miles after Fredericksburg and also Canton and Dexter, a tandem team. 

Temperatures kept fluctuating thru the night between 39 and 51 degrees.  We would tell a racer what the temp was just before they went out so they could dress accordingly.  Then part way into their pull, it would drop to 39 degrees from 49- ouch! 

JS and SK had headwinds (and mostly uphill!) going into Fredericksburg, which faded by the time Peggy and Steve got on the bikes.  Peggy was able to blaze through Fred, because all the lights had switched to yellow flashing for the nighttime. 

JS Doing What He Does Best- Winning!

Geese, things are getting boring- time for another race over-exuberance mistake #4…David, this is the one we need a night picture of!  

Here we go- Edge Falls Road- 5:30am, Sunday morning.  We knew we were coming up on a turn and John slowed down in preparation.  We couldn’t decide which intersection it was.  SK was navigating from the back seat and Steve was navigating from the front seat.  Steve was looking for the fire station on the left too soon.  John was trying to get Steve to look for the fire station on the left and AFTER the turn (as well described by David).  John does a loop around the intersection while screaming “LITTLE SIGN!!  WHERE’S THE LITTLE SIGN?”  We go down the road a couple more feet.  No little sign.  We get John turned around and head back for an intersection were John saw lights on a metal building that just screamed FIRE STATION! And we see the tiny sign for Edge Falls road on a sign post about 12 feet up in the air.  Whew! 

Now back to poor Peggy, who’s starting to sweat bullets in the driver’s seat.  She’s come to the realization that she’s up for a pull and will also be the last pull.  The butterflies in her stomach are turning into sparrows and beginning to flap their wings.  

John takes a little longer pull to get us into the TS 8 at Leon Springs.  After we get past the TS, JS is pulled and Peggy is put on the bike, knotted stomach and all with 9 miles left in the race. 

Six miles left in the race and SK is dropped out of the van to ride to the finish with Peggy.  JS is on the PA pumping us up and pushing us on: “Come on girls!  Faster!  Give me 20!  That’s better!  Now faster! Go!  One more little pop!  I don’t want to see you drop below 20! Okay, pick it back up again! Okay 6 minutes left!  Leave it all out here!  GoGoGoGoGoGo!!” 

As we crossed the final intersection, George is turning around to escort us to the finish line.  Only George is not going fast enough and we are about to have to pass him.  Finally, he sees that he needs to pick up the pace as Peggy and I are hooting, hollering and screaming while rolling across brand new pavement, through town and past the finish line, crossing at 27mph and 6:39am Sunday morning. 

Official finish time: 20:39. 

Long story short: Our 4 person mixed team has set the bar for the true Texas Hill Country 600k of 377 miles. 

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Now, if anybody else but me-SK-would have been typing this race report, the description would have slowly degenerated into an incoherent slur…..you should see the bag of bottles that has formed while we tried to recount this story. 

It’s also right about now that I’m wishing we would have opted for voice recording, because I am the only sober person here and I have to leave.

 The hungry drunks need their pizza.

http://www.raceacrossoregon.com/hillcountry

Getting Bent: A Newcomer’s Account by Bill Patterson

“I’m in transition”. No I’m not undergoing gender change surgery. I’m in the process of switching much of my riding from a traditional road bike to a recumbent.  In my case, the recumbent is a Bacchetta Corsa, a short wheel base “high racer” model. Before I go into any of that: why a recumbent in the first place? A couple of years ago, I underwent my first “transition” from running to riding as my main aerobic activity. That was initially because of a little muscle strain and then just because it was more fun. As I put on more miles and got a little older, I started to experience chronic shoulder pain. The riding didn’t cause it but tended to aggravate it. I certainly noticed the discomfort more on rides with lots of climbing. The doctor focused on that “little older” part and said it was not bad enough for any surgical solution so I should suck it up!

A recumbent bike seemed liked a solution to me. Recumbent bikes or “bents” are those funny looking bikes where the rider seems reclined in an apparently comfortable seat. No standing up on these bikes! At a minimum, it should decrease the upper body stress and hopefully make riding a little more comfortable. Once you start actually looking at them it becomes apparent that there are many designs. The common threads seem to be the big seat, different riding position and the crank positioned ahead of the rider rather than beneath the rider.

What you find when you discuss a recumbent with most people are strong opinions.  Some cyclists don’t consider bents to be “real bikes” while others think they are a perfect solution to all cycling issues.  To me, the answer seems to be somewhere in the middle of the extremes.  There were numerous assumptions and rumors to work through to get at exactly what a recumbent meant to my personal riding. 

“It is more comfortable that an upright bike”.  The amount of stress on my shoulders and arms is remarkably less!  Riding in the reclined position is becoming comfortable but it is a definite change. 

“It is faster over the whole ride than an upright”.  Well, not yet at any rate.  I have been a little slower on the climbing and a little faster on the descents.  My overall speed on a couple of rides that I had history on was about ½ MPH slower but admittedly I only have a few hundred miles on the new bike and I am still “in transition”.  Descents are way faster because of the aerodynamics involved.   

“It’s harder to climb on a recumbent”.    Climbing is different, not harder, for me on low and moderate grades.  You use your muscles differently and you can push back into the seat.  You can’t stand up to use your body weight on the down stroke.  I’ve climbed several slopes at 10% grade so far and those are definitely harder for me at this point.  They are not easy but doable.  They weren’t easy on the upright bike either.  I have started to try a few monster climbs of up to 17% grade but I am not comfortable with those yet. 

“You use muscles differently riding a recumbent”.   Absolutely! My butt initially hurt from climbing but this seems to be going away.  I discover a new set of sore muscles after every ride.  My neck is aware of the new position.  You don’t use the upper body nearly as much.  My back ached a little after my first ride but that was a one-time issue as new muscles were put on alert that they would be needed.  The good news is that my “bent muscles” seem to be adapting to their new jobs.

I told a friend that I felt like I was 6 years old and leaning to ride my first bicycle.  Everything has to be deliberate rather than automatic and I often realize that I am flirting with disaster.  A couple of the biggest challenges for me have been getting started from a dead stop and handling the balance at slow speeds.  Getting into motion is made more difficulty by the position of the pedals forward and above the hips.  In my case, I made this more difficult yet by changing the style of the pedals on this bike so I am getting use to new clips at the same time as I am working with the new riding position.  Bike handling at slow speeds is tricky as you learn the new balance required.  “Heel strike” where the shoe hits the tire is a trying issue and make sharp turning at slow speeds challenging.

Like most things, there are lots of choices and variations in recumbent design.  As I said earlier, my bike is a Bacchetta Corsa.  It is a short wheel base model with the crank in front of the front tire and positioned above hip level.  The Corsa is not your beach recumbent with its road bike features and more aggressive riding position.  It is an aluminum bike with a carbon fork and weighs in at approximately 25 pounds.  The components are 9-speed SRAM and feature a triple crank set and an 11-34 cassette.  Shifting is excellent and uses twist shifters.  Some recumbents have different size tires but mine are the same 26” size front and back.  The steering is called “above the seat” and resembles normal handlebars.  The “not normal” part of this is the high position of the crank that puts your knees between the handlebars when pedaling.  It is possible to get your knees outside the bars on a tight turn and that is a bad thing!  Bents are like regular road bikes in that you can find one for any budget!  The Corsa is priced in the range of road bikes with similar frame construction.  I got my bike from Bent Up Cycles of Van Nuys, a shop that specializes in recumbent bikes.  They were very helpful in selecting the model and in allowing me to test ride several different bikes.  In the end, Bent Up Cycles even changed out a couple of components at no extra charge.

I have had the Corsa for 6 weeks and have ridden 900 miles on the new bike.  Over that distance I have climbed about 40,000’ including well known Southern California routes such as Glendora Mountain Road, Glendora Ridge Road, Latigo Canyon and Piuma Road.  As I said, I am a little slower than my time on my road bike but I am not really in any hurry.  I’ve fallen twice with both incidents involving very slow speeds and very sharp inclines.  A 91 mile long-ride and the first big climbing ride gave me a little too much confidence early on.  Subsequent rides reminded me that a little humility is always appropriate.  My muscles are adjusting.  I’m slowly improving my bike handling.  It’s starting to be fun.  I noticed that I’ve been on my road bike only a few times since the Corsa arrived.  Give me another 1.000 miles with it and who knows.

 

Addendum-

One of my goals in moving to the Corsa was not to reduce my riding and effort in the transition.  This week included 200 miles on the bike with almost 11,000’ of climbing.  I tried my first “monster climb” on Monday with grades as high as 18%.  I thought I was going to die but that’s about normal for me.  I completed the climb at any rate.  Wednesday was a short run in the Santa Monica Mountains that included sustained 10% to 12% climbs.  Thursday was a 95 mile long ride.  My speed was faster than a recent DF ride over a similar route and I noted that several climbs actually seemed easier.  After the ride I was feeling great and ready to go with none of the upper body fatigue that is normal on the DF.  I was asked about the Corsa several times and the universal observations seemed to be “cool bike”.  I agree!