Saturday morning. The alarm goes off at 5:30am. I hop out of bed and start making Vcon's Blueberry Corn Pancakes while Nathan walks the dog and loads our bikes into the car. We are naturally running late, but make it to the MRTs in time to follow them to Lufkin. Everyone is dressed in sassy bicycling outfits and full of hope and excitement.
We make it to Lufkin with plenty of time to spare, check in and get our registrations bags, including numbers to pin to our shirts! So legit! Nathan and I put our wheels back on our bikes and then we roll around, waiting for the ride to start.
The guys are doing the 52 mile ride, but the ladies - me, Mary and Jen - have opted for the 25 miler. Everyone starts in the same place though, and I am very nervous about taking off in the midst of 500 or so cyclists. But after a brief prayer and a loud gun-shot, we take off and I don't knock over anybody. Success!
We lose the boys pretty quickly, which is fine. Us ladies have some serious chatting to do. The ride is mostly uneventful except for the following occurrences:
1. Rest stops! We get to stop at two rest stops during out route. Each one is ridiculously stocked with awesome foods and beverages. The first one offers waffles with strawberry compote and whipped cream, which I think is a little over the top. I go for juice and pretzels before tackling the next 14 miles.
2. Hills! I find out why this ride is called the "Purgatory" - because you are trapped between the heaven of the scenery (it's seriously a beautiful ride) and the hell of the hills. Lots of hills. Steep hills. Gradual hills that seem to incline forever. Hills that make me use gears I have never even touched in town. Hills that make me sweaty and out of breath and deliriously happy to reach the top. Hills!
3. Asshole drivers. We ride mostly without incident, and this is due in no small way to the great support the ride had, through volunteers, police directing traffic, and various other kind souls. One man did not get the memo that there was a ride going on, and as my lady friends and I are coasting along, a large white truck pulls up behind us, honking aggressively on his horn. He yells at us to get out of the road, we respond with a middle finger. He passes us, then slams on his brakes and flies back in reverse. I think for sure he's going to take us out. Luckily, that doesn't happen, and moments later the ride photographer comes back around on her scooter and takes pictures of the truck as she goes by. That seems to scare him off and we don't see him again, which is a relief. Other than that one man, everyone else is sunshine and smiles.
We finish the ride in a little over 3 hours and then enjoy a delicious fajita lunch while waiting for the boys to roll in, which they do, one by one, over the next hour. Then we take our tired selves and sore asses (seriously - I will never scoff at padded spandex bike shorts again) and go home to bask in the glow of our accomplishment.