Chad was unable to come and help me in the end so I ended up going solo (not quite as planned). After the 6 ½ hour drive I arrived at the mini canyon of Palo Duro in Amarillo Texas. Typical of me I arrived late, with packet pick up closing at 9 and me arriving about 5 minutes later. Managed to persuade the lady to let me in though and pick up my packet with the all important bracelet so that I could camp there in the Canyon. Set up my tent up in the dark and went off to bed!
When I signed up for this ride i thought it was 100 miles in the Canyon on a road bike and then 9 mile laps in the Canyon on a mountain bike. Turns out thats not quite what I signed up for - its actually 100 miles in the canyon followed by 8 mile laps also on a road bike - however even that had changed because of flooding it is now 5.8 mile laps!! Not very interesting laps - basically down the road turn around and back!! Never mind. Good thing is I only needed to take one bike - bad thing is I would really have liked to have both my Time Trial and my road bike but I have just sold my road bike and am in the process of getting a new one! So I am just on my time trial bike after all - which is fine!!
Next morning I check out all my stuff - tons of gels and bars, one helmet with lights, one without - feeling pretty good - everything seems to be in order! I am ready to go. The only problem is I couldn’t find my double water holder so only have one water bottle on my bike. Not really enough but I hope that the Aid stations will be quite close together!
12 noon start - rolling along the bottom of the Canyon - everyone heads off at full speed as usual - I took it easier and even then my heart rate is out of control as always. 180. Probably about 8 miles across the bottom of the Canyon before the hill up. My tt bike doesn’t have the best of gears so I just went up the hill in my easiest gear and before I knew it found myself out front on my own - not really where I wanted to be. I was trying to take it easy and get my heart rate under control. Reached the top where it was flat and windy - cross wind at first - got into a good rhythm, still trying to lower my heart rate. I wanted it below 170 and it was now 175 - so I was easing off as much as possible.Reached the first Aid station and stocked up on water and then turned south straight into the head wind for the next 20 miles or so on a flat boring road! I was not enjoying the ride very much - head down, trying to control my heart rate. I was also disappointed that the Aid station didn’t really have any food, I was thinking they would have!
Stocked up at the next station and then we turned again, this time with a cross wind and a road that soon deteriorated - I was now suffering, not feeling good - didn’t seem to have any power in me. Reached the 45 mile mark and was able to stock up with some snacks. I think it is the wind that gets in my head - I really don’t like the flat and the wind! Everything was hurting, my legs, hands and bum - it was a bumpy road and I was miserable. The worst thing was that I was feeling so weak. Hate that. Felt I had eaten and drunk enough before the start but maybe not! After riding south for a while directly into the wind we turned west again with more of a cross wind, so this was a bit better. Still flat!
We finally turned north heading back towards the start - I saw a lady there and asked her for some water thinking she was with the race support - she wasnt but still kindly filled my water bottle. This was good as I was getting low and it was really hot. A mile or so later a support truck pulled up and also gave me some more water. Another 5 miles and there was an organised rest stop. I felt terrible - got off my bike and sat there in the shade - it was unbelievably hot. They gave me a coke and some ibuprofen along with lots of water. I had an energy bar and a gel, just trying to eat and drink as much as possible. I must have sat there for about 20 minutes feeling awful. I think I was the 7th rider to reach the stop but another 10 riders passed me as I tried to recover.
I finally got up and figured I needed to carry on - it was a slog! I definitely had a little more energy and we were still going north so with the tail wind - so that was all good. Before the rest stop I kept looking at the power meter which is only showing 100 watts and yet I am killing - whats going on?? Now I am definitely feeling a little better. At about 85/90 miles there was another rest stop with a very nice family there. So I sat there for a while and chatted to them while stocking up. After this we turned back towards the canyon into a cross headwind - 10 miles across and then a good downhill back to the camp. I went straight to my tent and found my life saver - honey smoked salmon! This is what I had eaten on the Arizona Trail Race and it seems to be a good tasty fuel. Sorted myself out, changed my top, got rid of all the extra baggage I was carrying, ate and drank tons! Ready now to start the 5.6 mile loops!!