Just some background. I’m the old man/newbie rider of TGR. I’m 40 and have been riding for about a year and a half. Last year, I kept track of the original EB threads and read the reports in awe of what the guys did. I told myself then, “I’m going to do that next year and I’ll finish, no matter what.” I started riding a SS at the first of the year and I jumped in getting my ass handed to me on the SSSSU rides. I ride the SS exclusively now. So, when it came time to ride the EB, I knew I was going to give up a lot of time to gear guys as I’m no where near Travis’s skill/fitness level.
I have done some training for the ride. I’ve been on rides that strung together several of the parks on 360 to get a taste of the saddle time and the climbing. But by far, this would be my longest, most difficult ride I’ve ever attempted.
Like most guys, I didn’t sleep well the night before. I went to bed early but woke up about 10 times throughout the night. The anticipation of the ride/sufferpalooza never let me settle down. I finally got up about 10 minutes before the alarm. I strapped on the lycra, doused myself in sunblock as I knew I’d be in it all day, grabbed some breakfast, loaded the car and hit the road.
Pulled into Walnut Creek about 15 minutes early and was surprised at how many people were there. I figured with all of the rain and uncertainty, the turnout would be very small. To see nearly 30 was awesome. I got my gear together, bundled up in arm warmers and toed to the line. Chatted with a couple my TGR buddies and other friends I’ve meet on the trails. Tim from TGR was a DNFer from last year and we had discussed strategy for the ride. As we just wanted to finish, we decided we wouldn’t blow ourselves out. I was introduced to another SS, Ron and we decided then and there to stick together. After Travis’s and Cody’s last instructions, we headed out. Of course the one and only water crossing at WC got my feet soaked… great, prune feet for sure. The ride down was a good clip. Nothing too much for my gearing (32/20) and got a chance to chat with people and whatnot. It was a good warmup. I chatted a bit with Chris for PA. Really nice fella and super ballsy for doing this ride cold. Much props to him. We hit Zilker and I didn’t even see the front guys bolt. I had different goals so I didn’t mind. I hit the bathroom with the pack, took a swig of beer from Jeff and hit the trail. Met up with Ron and Tim and we were off. I had never ridden BCGB with water flowing so the crossing were interesting. I saw some guys taking off their shoes but since my feet were already wet, I didn’t bother. Fixie Todd and Chris caught us on Jedi and we met again at the HOL. I’ve never ridden up that and wasn’t going to try that day so I popped off and started walking. Stopped at over look and grabbed some calories and shucked off some layers. Hit the top of HOL and started rolling to 360. If I remember correctly, it was right at 10 a.m.. Check #1 park off the list.
Started rolling 360 and set into my spin-tastic cadence. Met Antonio on the road and he dropped in behind and paced me. A group of us hit Courtyard together… Chris, Todd, Tim, Antonio, Ron and Myself. I had ridden that on several training rides and I told myself that it was on the list of “must dos” so I rode the whole thing. 9 minutes of grinding but I cleared it followed by CP road. During the climb of CP road, Greg caught me. We had ridden that same path during training and we chatted a bit. Tim had mentioned on 360 that he was going to fill up at the fire station. I had enough water for CP so I told him I’d meet him at the trail head. On the cut off road to CP I saw the two leaders rolling out. I shouted a greeting but got blank stares in return. They had their game faces on and I wasn’t offended (you jerks ).
Once at CP, Greg asked if I wanted to go with him but I told him I was going to wait for Tim. Just that time the Iain, Cody and Corey started popping out of the end of the trail and the social hour ride by PulpWoody and others were arriving for their Tea sipping and hopscotch games. Some pleasantries were exchanged and Tim, Ron and I hit the trail. Antonio was with us a while but we eventually lost contact with him. CP was largely uneventful. Ran into Jeff and he was hurting. Apparently that SOB was sick all week and still was taking a cut at the ride. Grade A stud. He finally tapped the mat and we wished him well and kept rolling.
Popped out of CP trail and kept rolling. Check #2 off the list. I ran out of my power drink mixture on the way to CP but had a large supply of electrolyte tablets. My original plan was to stop at the Jester Stop-N-Rob and refill but we stopped at the Fire Station and only refilled with water. Downed some PayDay and a Cliff Bar and kept rolling. I think this would come to bite me later. Ron taps out. In our first conversation of the morning, he mentioned that his goal was to have a fun. “Once the smile is gone, I’m done”. Well, his smile had long since passed. We gave him some instructions on how to get back to WC and we hit it.
We were rolling 360. Tim is rolling faster than me so he gets a huge lead, followed by Ron then me. I see Ron roll past Spicewood and I turn left. I churn up Spicewood feeling rather tired. I see Bill and another guy rolling away from St. Ed’s. Bill shoots “Keep peddling” and he blasts by. He was looking nice and strong and that made me feel even worse. I meet up with Tim at the base of St. Eds. We do a mixture of climb/walk as we’re feeling rather tired at this point. We hit the top and work our way down. Pretty uneventful. Check #3 off the list. Tim gets in front on Spicewood and pulls me to Yaupon. I had the goal of riding it to (like Courtyard) but I knew what was waiting for me at the top and that broke me. We dismounted and walked it. I feel like I failed myself at this point. We look behind us and see Todd and Chris. Tim and I stop for some calories and Fixie Todd comes up. We chat for a bit and he’s off. Sean comes out of the trail and is looking a bit rough. He mentions that he’s having bad cramps. I have a full bottle of water and share it with him and he’s off.
Tim and I take a deep breath and start Thumper. I don’t care for Thumper. It destroys me on my best days… and this isn’t my best. We end up doing a lot of hike a bike. I comment to Tim that I felt like my first time at Thumper. Which was a good thing because it took 6 hours of riding to get me to that point now. I must be improving. Anyway, we spend about 1:45 to get through there. But we’re out! Check #4 off the list.
Luckily, Tim lives right off of the road from Thumper and we stop at his place to refill water and take a breather. I take a banana off his counter, wolf it down and excuse myself outside. If feel sick to my stomach and don’t want to repay his hospitality with a present on his floor. We look at the time do the calculation and know that we’ll be in the dark at WC. He grabs his lights and we’re off.
After a bit, my stomach settles and we’re clipping along. I start to see the end of the tunnel and feel better. Tim was still grinding through. We cross Mopac and my spirits start to improve. We joke that it would suck if we got back and everyone had already left. We knew we were last… by a long shot. We roll into WC to see a large group of people hanging out and cheers erupted. That was a welcome sight and really lifted my spirits. We stopped and rigged our lights and they informed us that whoever wins the last lap is officially “last” and would be treated to a prize from Hammerhead. We roll out with new energy and keep up a good pace. I roll through the RootDrop and dunk my bike for the first time. DAMN both hubs and the BB. I was careful at the BCGB NOT to do that. We roll pretty quick then Tim starts to fade a bit. I slow down a bit to keep in touch with him. In our tired state, it would be very easy to get hurt and it would suck to be alone. We hit all the features and I tell myself to kick Matt in the balls the next time I see him since he included everything and the kitchen sink. The flour marking were easy to spot with our lights so we were good to go. At one point, Tim starts to really fade and he tries to tell me to take off. Hey, that guy kept me going and we worked all day together to get to that point, there was NO WAY in hell I’d leave him then. We cross the creek again (more wet feet YEAH!) and finish up the last bit of trail. I pop out into the parking lot first and the crowd cheers for me to cross the line. I held up and waited for Tim and we crossed together.
We then selected our stand-ins for the beer chug. Tim grabs Bill I try to get Corey because I blame him for everything that is bad. He had to decline because his wife was there and apparently he’s been drinking plenty already. I get Sean and they go at it. Sean pulls through with excellent form and I win! I’m officially LAST. I chat a bit with everyone there. I realize then that that’s how I’d feel if I raced a 12 hour solo race and I’d only be HALF way done with a 24hour! I find Iain and tell him that he’s insane and a maniac for doing 24hrs.
Great time… easily the longest distance on the bike I’ve ever done and the longest time in the saddle. I was very happy to that all of the TGR guys finished but was more happy that Tim got his finish this year.
Thanks to Cody and Travis for putting this together and sticking to it even though the rain made the scheduling difficult. Thanks to everyone who rode and kept our spirits up and congrats to the TGR guys for finishing what they started!