Well, what a week that was. Having packed the case well in time then unpacked it eight times to check I’d had packed it right, I set off for Glasgow Airport at ridiculous o’clock on the morning and arrived – because such is the small size of Scotland and such is the lack of traffic at that time – at ridiculous o’clock plus ten minutes. With no delays at all we left wet and windy Glasgow headed for Amsterdam where I met up with Harriet. We soon embarked on to a monster of a plane in which we we to be the guests of KLM for the next ten hour, and after s long, boring haul later and we touched down in Houston. And saw it was wet and windy. Oh the irony.
As Duncan and Harriet were the mainstays of the support team, most of the Friday was spent sorting out the last minute details – most of which seemed to be based on purchasing a vast quantity of food from Wal-Mart. With the prospect of having to leave the house for the office at 4am, I headed for an early night – after of course having checked my travel bag eight times in case it wasn’t packed right.
We set off from the Faithful and Gould offices at 5.30am in darkness and eventually arrived at the very busy start point at around 7am. It was at this point really quite cold – much cooler than I’d expected and made me glad I had packed my arm and leg warmers after all. By the time we got to the start line the sun was starting to get up, but it took a good half hour for me to warm up sufficiently to take off my arm warmers (the leg warmers had been shed at the start line). The team had agreed to stick together to the first food stop and that was honoured. After that I attached myself to a group who wanted to travel at about 15-17mph, and to an extent we achieved that.
Lunch at Belville was exceptional – far better catering than I’d experienced at any other event, and surprisingly well-organised and stocked for such a huge event. It certainly set us up for the rest of the day’s ride. I rode most of the afternoon with Simon and we made good progress until about the last 20 miles. At that point we hit the Double H – a headwind and some hills. or at least what passes for hills in Texas. 😉 It was a little amusing to see people falter on gradients of 2% but it was also easy to see that training on hills in Texas is somewhat problematic – unless you spend your time rushing up and down the many overpasses. But anyway, the hills were perfectly easily manageable although our progress was hindered slightly by groups of people who were struggling. We reached the overnight campsite at La Grange mid-afternoon after having done the 88 miles in just over 5hours at an average of around 16mph. I was initially disappointed in this time as we’d been whistling along at 19 and 20 at times. But the data analysis showed that there were a few very slow points – the start line, food stops and hold-ups while the authorities and ride organisers sorted out a couple of incidents.
All in all, I was pleased with Day 1. The overnight camping was something I could have done without given that I’ve been warmer camping in Scotland than in La Grange. But heyho – it’s all part of the experience and the early start again on Day 2 meant that the camp bed section was mercifully short-lived. Ah well. Onwards and upwards.