So can I do a Rando?
I asked myself the same question in 2012. So for a little history. Around May of 2011 I decided I wanted to take up cycling as a serious hobby. For those who know me well, you might remember the “why” behind that logic.
After riding for a short time I rode in some local charity type events. The first two were in June and July of 2011. From then on I was hooked and realized this was fun and I could do it. After about six months of cycling I became a bit bored riding alone and starting seeking out local cycling groups to ride with. Now I was really hooked. I’ll never forget riding with the Velociraptors group of Brownsville. They kept urging me to ride both Saturday and Sunday of the weekend. Never thought I could do that but they were right! Thanks to those guys; they gave me that extra push I needed.
In February of 2012 I was all geared up to do my first century at the Jalapeno 100. Even though I had trained on several rides of 80+ miles I’d never done an official century. For those who rode in 2012 you might remember the weather was a bit crazy that day. Warm muggy start, then a cold front with rain and then super gusty winds out of the north. I was riding with a few friends and they started getting a lot of flats. One friend in particular ended up with six flats that day, so we decided to head back early and only finished with 75 miles…what a disappointment! But we started as a group and wanted to finish as a group.
So here comes May 2012 and my next opportunity at a century ride. Not only was it a century; it was a double metric century. In other words, I would attempt my first 200K ACP Brevet Rando. Yes all 128 miles! Even some of my cycling friends thought I was crazy; but why not?? So what if there was no SAG or formal support, so what if I broke down on the road, no excuses. I could always call someone to pick me up. Plus I had a nice new bike I got at the beginning of May to ride.
Off to Port Isabel for the ride….sometimes I think “why do I do this”…I have to get up so early on my days off… I get there on time and meet the previous RBA for South TX, Edward Robinson, really nice guy who has done a lot of Randos. Edward gives me all the details for the ride and I saw a few other people I recognized…but they were all fast and very good riders! Oh my, so why to heck was I doing this, now I’m really nervous?? And then a friend I had ridden with before showed up….so I felt a little better. Needless to say, my friend struggled through the first 90 miles before having to quit due to the heat and stomach issues.
As I have since learned these long rides are an exercise in dedication, perseverance, fortitude and training. The first 60 miles were pretty good although the humidity and heat was something else. So what, it’s South TX you say!!! Well riding your first 200K and not entirely sure how your body will hold up are two different stories. At that point, my friend Sara started having issues. She was really struggling and we had to stop and rest quite a few times in the shade. By the time we got to about mile 90 she called a friend to pick her up. I waited until I was able to confirm that her friend was on the way…even though the day got hotter and hotter the longer I waited.
At that point I was only five miles from where I lived but my truck was in Port Isabel; so I had to push on! Oh yeah the heat was now something and it just seemed like I could not get enough fluids in me. I even stopped at one of those “windmill water” places on Hwy 281 and ran a few quarters through…guzzling water and pouring it on my head. A man in a truck stopped by and asked me if I was OK, he said I looked like a roasted chicken! I felt like one too!! I thanked him for his concern and ice and reluctantly got back on the bike. If I could only make it to Olmito or FM 511 and Hwy 83 without “dying”, I knew I would make it.
I drank a ton of water and sports drink in Olmito…but had not really eaten any food since late morning. Well that was a BIG MISTAKE, yes you can over hydrate; even in South TX. By the time I got to Los Fresnos I had to go into the convenience store and just wait it out until some fluid was passing through my system, so I could eat something. I knew the clerk there thought I was crazy at that point, and I wondered the same….”crazy old man!!” Besides I only had to ride from Los Fresnos to Port Isabel…how hard could that be?? Besides this wasn’t a race!
Well the rest in Los Fresnos and food really helped because I felt much better once I got back on the bike, even though that last leg is very tough; I made it safely back. Whew…my first official century, double metric century and 200K to boot! Yes maybe I am crazy after all, but the sense of achievement is special.
So that was my first Rando but not my last!! I’ve done longer rides in one day and hotter rides also and yes I have survived them all so far.
I learned several things that day: I could do this, I somehow liked it and I realized what an average person like me could do with proper preparations and training.
So if I can do it, you can too! No excuses, just train and prepare and you’ll get there. Check out the links page on the website for more info. Or better yet, visit the Facebook page or send inquiries and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you at the next event!
South Texas RBA for RGV Randos