Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sweet Potato as a Ride Snack

By Kat Hunter

Every kind of bike snack has its time and place. Shot blocks and gels work well in a pinch or on race day. Bars with chocolate are great in the winter but melt in the summer. Homemade snacks like rice bars and PBJs are nice if you have the time and the skill to unwrap them while riding. Drinkable calories from Skratch, Gatorade, Coke, etc, go a long way, but on really long rides they won’t go all the way. You need a ride food on standby that is portable and affordable, tastes good, gets you the calories you need, and handles most weather conditions.

I nominate the sweet potato.

It’s true that when you whip out a whole sweet potato (or the brown, wrinkled end of a particularly large or skinny one is peeking out above your jersey pocket), you might generate some laughs. But let them laugh, I say! Sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, fiber, B6, and potassium. You get a solid amount of calories and natural sugars, they taste sweet but not too sweet, and they don’t melt or otherwise disintegrate when carried on your person. Also, unlike packaged and processed options, you always know exactly what’s in them: potato.

My favorite thing about sweet potatoes, however, is that they come with a built-in, edible wrapper. The potato can be completely naked in your pocket (or loosely wrapped in a paper towel), so there’s no need to worry about removing your ride snack from plastic packaging or disposing of it after. The key to this, from my experience, is microwaving the potato rather than baking it in the oven. The result may be less delicious, but it’s also much less juicy and stays together better. Just remember to give your potato some time to cool before you head out...unless, in addition to being a skilled cyclist, you’re also a very talented juggler.

How to microwave a sweet potato




Friday, March 20, 2015

Recap of Cervelo Shape of Speed Event

by Jack Mott

Cervelo's "Shape of Speed" event, which came to Austin Tri-Cyclist on March 7, included a presentation about the history and technology at work at Cervelo, a quick question-and-answer period, and free beer and pizza.

In attendance from Cervelo were Phil Houston, marketing, and Phil Spearman, product manager, who are known as P2 and P3 back at the office due to an overabundance of Phils (co-founder Phil White is P1). Phil Spearman did most of the talking, taking us through the history and technology of Cervelo.

History

  • 1995 - World Champion Gianni Bugno approached Gerard and Phil, founders of Cervelo, to design a time trial bike for him. The Baracchi is born.
  • 1996 - Cervelo bikes first appear in the Olympics.
  • 1998 - First professional Ironman rides a Cervelo (Paula Newby-Fraser).  
  • 2002 - Tyler Hamilton asks for a TT bike, which was disguised as a Look and then ridden by Laurent Jalabert in the Tour de France.
  • 2003 - World Tour cycling team CSC picks Cervelo as their bike sponsor.
  • 2006 - First of three wins at Paris-Roubaix.
  • 2008 - Victory in the Tour de France with Carlos Sastre, and Kona with Chrissie Wellington.
  • 2009 - Cervelo Test Team is formed, to focus more on product testing.
  • 2010 - Project California produces ultralight R5Ca.
  • 2010 - Cervelo wins world cycling road championships (Thor Hushovd) and TT championship (Emma Pooley).
  • 2012 - Ryder Hesjdal wins the Giro de Italia on a Cervelo.
  • 2013 - Victory in Kona for the P5 ridden by Frederik Van Lierde.
  • 2014 - VelocioSRAM and Bigla women's teams sponsored by Cervelo.
  • 2015 - Team MTN Qhubeka sponsored by Cervelo.

Technology

Cervelo didn't send an engineer to this Shape of Speed event, but Phil Houston did a respectable job of communicating some interesting technical tidbits. One was an amusing argument that even a generic carbon frame is more original and handmade than the typical round-tube lugged steel frame. He mentioned that every carbon frame design is a completely original shape rather than stock tubing from one of a few suppliers, and that in the end human hands are laying that carbon fiber into molds and creating the frames.

When asked how Cervelo seems to do very well in wind tunnel tests, especially at low yaw angles, he said that much of the testing Cervelo has done indicates that yaw angles averaging around 7 degrees are typical much of the time (but not always!), indicating that they tend to focus more on low yaw angles than some other companies.

A recent revolution in the process of bike design for Cervelo has been the acquisition of CFD and FEA software tools. These allow Cervelo to try frame designs and test both their aerodynamics and structural properties virtually. Rather than spending days and tons of money in a wind tunnel to try a handful of shapes, they can try thousands of iterations virtually before taking a few promising ones to the wind tunnel for refinement.

Another focus with the latest round of bikes is more "systems integration." This is the recognition that there is more to a bike's aerodynamics than the frame alone, especially once the frame is well designed aerodynamically. An interesting breakdown of the relative contribution to aero drag of various parts on an S5 was shown:

  • 30% handlebar
  • 16% front wheel
  • 16% frame
  • 9% bottle
  • 9% fork
  • 9% powertrain
  • 3% front brake
  • 2% rear brake
  • 1% seat post
This kind of data has led to Cervelo introducing their own handlebar with aerodynamic tops, and to offer some of their bikes with aerodynamic wheels standard.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Monday Night Spin & Friday Lunch Ride at ATC 360




Motivation Monday 6-7:30 p.m.

Looking for an alternative to breathing rush-hour exhaust on 360? Allison Atkinson, one of the best spin instructors in Austin, leads the free trainer session every Monday night at ATC 360. If you're looking to get in a hard 90 minutes, show up at 6 p.m. to spin. The workout will kickoff at 6:30. Expect a different workout each week!

"We do high-intensity interval training, which is basically riding at an intensity that is uncomfortable for various lengths of time with some amount of recovery time between intervals," Allison says. "There could be several sets of intervals, or maybe just two long intervals, depending on our focus that day. The workouts are designed to make you faster on the bike by building power and turnover in the legs as well as greater capacity in the lungs. We also tackle practical stuff like how to shift properly, basic maintenance, or whatever question
s come up as we ride. All levels are welcome. We currently have seasoned triathletes, beginners, road racers, and developing junior racers all in one class. Most importantly we have FUN and keep things pretty laid back. My goal for people is to get them motivated each Monday so they can tackle their week with a fierce attitude!"

Where: ATC 360, 3801 N Capital of Texas Hwy STE G-200

What to bring: a bike and trainer (Storage space is available for those who want to leave trainers and/or a training bike at the shop.)


Friday Social Ride 12-1:30ish p.m.

You don't really need a tough workout on Friday, but you still want to get outside and spin your legs with friends before tackling your big weekend plans. If this sounds like you, then you're in luck! The Friday Social Ride kicks off this week.

"On Friday, your lunch break should be spent outside on a bike," Allison says. "This will not be a hammerfest, as it is a social ride at conversational pace. Route will vary weekly depending on wind, company, or vibe that day, but should be approximately 25 miles.  Everyone is welcome, and I'm positive we will burn enough calories to warrant a post-ride macchiato and pastry at Uno's. This will be fun!"

Where: ATC 360, 3801 N Capital of Texas Hwy STE G-200. Meet and park at the back entrance of the shop.

What to bring: flat repair kit, road bike, helmet, and some knowledge of group riding etiquette

Call ATC 360 with questions at (512) 382-1273, or send an email to allison@atcracing.org or chuck@austintricyclist.com. 




Allison rides for ATC Racing, teaches spin at Pure Austin Fitness, and currently coaches the ATC Racing Junior Squad. She is a newly certified USAC coach with an interest in working with competitive and recreational road cyclists. Her lengthy experience in group fitness training makes her an expert in motivation and coffee consumption. She is also a brand ambassador for Castelli Cycling, as well as an employee at Austin TriCyclist.

Contact Info:
allison@atcracing.org

Follow on Instagram:
@wattage_cottage

Visit:
www.castelli-cycling.com




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

So You Want to Be a Pro?

By Kat Hunter

Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race criterium. Many thanks to Keenan Photography.


Why am I doing this? I ask myself every time it’s bitterly cold, or I’m on the trainer for hours, or I’m having a bad day, or I have to try another new saddle. When I signed the contract with Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good—my first with a pro cycling team—I knew there would be times I’d regret it, but I also knew that if I didn’t, I would always wonder what I might have missed.

Kat at the Valley of the Sun time trial
My husband calls the period from roughly August to mid-November my “retirement.” In July 2014, I’d won the final stage of the Cascade Cycling Classic as a guest rider for FCS Cycling, and the team (which added new title sponsors Visit Dallas and Noise4Good this year) had invited me to be on the 2015 roster. I’d decided I was finished with bike racing, however. I started jogging again. I tackled half a dozen home improvement projects and spent time with my son. I worked on expanding my writing career. I settled into a different kind of life, one that didn’t center on competition.

But I soon began to feel I was missing something. I realized that being a bike racer and an athlete had been a kind of self-definition for me. After all, what better hat to wear to show that you’re adventurous, interesting, even special? Some people become bike racers because it fits their personalities. Me? I think it’s who I want to be.

I was born in 1984, so I grew up in an era when the strong woman—smart, savvy, tough—was edging out the damsel in distress as the desirable protagonist. As much as I admired and wanted to be that type of person, I often felt powerless. Even now, it’s easy for me to revert back to a 5’10 mouse. Bike racing doesn’t change who I am, but it does change how I see myself, and that in turn makes me feel more capable in every area of my life. I may never be Ripley busting up a ship full of aliens in my underwear, but I know I can hold my own. I wish I’d found the sport a decade earlier.

The women I’ve met in the cycling community, both in Texas and nationally, are assertive and unafraid, clever and funny. For me, they’re living proof that the strong-woman archetype isn’t a fiction, and I love being a part of that, even if I don’t exactly fit the mold.

ATC Racing at the Walburg Classic Road Race, Feb 21. Photo by Jamie Tracy.
I love riding my bike, too, just the pure daily grind of it. Cycling gives me a sense of purpose and forward momentum. The path is so refreshingly simple: You have a goal? Train more until you achieve it or your genetic gifts play out. Then there’s the wonderful and terrible intensity of it, of pushing yourself until your entire being is completely and utterly spent, and the heady vindication of crossing the line before your competitors. The sprint has the profoundly personal feeling of head-to-head combat, always like a hard slap to the face if you’re not the victor. Bike racing is a thrill and an endlessly changing puzzle all rolled into one, like flying through a war zone in a high-powered fighter jet (or on a bad day, an antique biplane with half a propeller).

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I’d already sent an email turning down the spot with FCS, so it was supposed to be said and done. But I’d been inching my way back into the sport by degrees. I went from quitting cold turkey to planning to ride again for ATC Racing, the women’s team I’d helped to organize and to run since its inception in 2011. I could feel myself slipping back into full-gas training mode. Like me and a pint of ice cream, bike racing would have to be all or nothing. I kept asking myself: if I was going to spend most of my time training anyway, why shouldn’t I aim for the highest level of competition open to me? What if this was my one chance to do it?

In the end, I couldn’t let it go. I finally heard back from the team director, just a one-line response to my magnum opus about why I wasn’t going to ride for FCS, and the effect of his words was like pulling the bottommost brick out of a leaning tower: “I think you are more convinced than I am of your racing decision,” he wrote.

I spent a sleepless night thinking about what life would be like without bike racing, if I’d ever feel that sense of intensity and fulfillment again. I imagined myself forty years down the road, reminiscing about my bike racing days and wishing there’d been more of them.

And so began the adventure.



The Team


The classification of women’s pro cycling teams in the U.S. is a lot simpler than the men’s. A team is either officially UCI, which requires a sizable budget in addition to the costs of running the team ($30,000 is paid to the UCI), or it’s “domestic elite.” Typically the two race in the same national events regardless, though UCI races, such as the Tour of California, are obligated to invite UCI teams first; all other teams are invited at the discretion of the race organizers. Visit Dallas Cycling is not UCI, but everyone on the team holds a UCI license, and we have three former national champions on the roster. The team currently hails from Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Austin (that’s me).

The team has an ardent and longstanding network of individual supporters in Dallas and beyond, many of whom I met for the first time at the team presentation and launch party in February. The triumvirate behind most day-to-day operations includes Lee Whaley, who is one of the co-chairmen of the nonprofit organization FCS Team Inc; Scott Warren, a product manager at Orbea; and Rachel Byus, long-time team manager and miracle worker. Our sponsors are pure gold—people and companies who believe in women’s cycling and the riders. The Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has signed on as one of the title sponsors for three years.

I learned many important things from the time I spent with the team during the launch and week-long training camp that followed it. Not least of which—you never want to be last in line for food in the company of women bike racers, as we’re not shy about portions. Several of my teammates requested mixing bowls for their cereal.

Anna Grace, Kat, Beth Ann, Mia at Feb 7 launch party in Dallas
I think there’s a misconception about women who race at this level, that we’re all deep-voiced, beefy she-dragons with facial hair. I won’t argue that cycling isn’t a brutal sport, or say that we’re always playing nice with legs crossed and lipstick on. My teammate Mia Manganello, one of the returning members of the team, is a woman who illustrates the point I’m getting at. She looks like a model, with long white-blonde hair and nails color-coordinated to match our race kit, and yet she’s one of the best and most aggressive crit racers on the team. She helped me flatiron my hair for the launch party and then a few days later showed me how to take apart and pack my bike.

Three people on the team are getting married this year, which makes for interesting conversation in the team van. Anna Sanders, with a personality the size of Alaska and a stature more like Delaware, could charm the pants off of anyone. Usually it takes her all of five minutes of knowing you to share an off-color anecdote. Her wedding ceremony will be in Phoenix, complete with a live band, whiskey hour, and chandelier. Beth Ann Orton, an infinitely kind person with a built-in diesel motor, is getting married to her mountain biker sweetheart in an outdoor park just outside of Bend, Oregon. Beth Ann is new to the NRC scene like me, and while she’s a crazy good time trialist, has only actually done a handful of them so far. She’s also a talented cyclocross racer. Olivia Dillon, five-time Irish national champion, is engaged to fellow cyclist Tayler Wiles, and all the discussion of wedding arrangements during training camp seemed to be making her nervous that she hadn’t done enough planning. Described as “candid,” Olivia and her straight talk are usually well worth listening to (and not just because she pronounces “idiot” as “eejit”).

AGC's house pants and wool/salmon-skin slipper ensemble
Flavia Oliviera, Brazilian national champion and custom-made climber, stands just over five feet tall—she’s like a bundle of fireworks wrapped up in a package the size of a stick of chewing gum. Everyone told me that Flavia would be my opposite in both stature and personality, but we get along well. Amber Neben, “the franchise” and typically our GC contender, is a former world and national time trial champion. She’s sincere and smart, always going out of her way to be encouraging to me in my struggles as a new recruit. All-around talent Anna Grace Christiansen, who works full-time for sponsor Danner Boots, is often the team’s comic relief. Her tribal-patterned, MC Hammer-esque “house pants” were a daily topic of conversation when we were together, Olivia always “candidly” telling AGC what she thought of her fashion sense and threatening to set them on fire.


The Life

The lifestyle of a female pro cyclist is somewhat Bohemian, in many ways mimicking the cutthroat, cut-whatever-corners-you-can mentality of bike racing itself. You sleep on couches and air mattresses. You mooch off whoever doesn’t mind hauling you around. You gamble for the big break that’ll come somewhere down the road.

And the prestige? Only other bike racers really understand or care about what you’re doing, so if you’re racing at the pro level for the glory, you have a very limited audience. Oddly, that’s what’s so lovely about women’s cycling, though. The people involved, from the team owners to the team directors to the riders, do what they do for two simple reasons: they’re good at it, and they love it.    

Being on a pro team usually means you get equipment and travel expenses paid, and then you figure out on your own how to support yourself. However, you still devote something around 20 hours or more per week to training if you want to be competitive, and you have an insane travel schedule from roughly March to August.

Rainy trip to the beach, training with the mosquitoes
 on my birthday, Feb 28 (or as close as a Leap Year baby gets)
I work as a freelance writer/editor, and I have a 21-month-old son. I’ve accepted the fact that I probably won’t have a life of my own again until next winter; guilt-free downtime is nonexistent. I have a spectacularly supportive family, though. My husband is endlessly helpful and patient, probably the only man who would have so enthusiastically been on board with this from Day One. From 2013 to now, he’s been my coach and diligent equipment manager, neither of which is an easy job.

I’m training more than I would have ever imagined possible. One week I’m on top of the world, and the next week I’m scraping at rock bottom with a pick ax to see if I can get any lower. I’m about 15 weeks in, averaging 1,000 TSS most weeks, and now big races like Redlands and Joe Martin are on the near horizon. I’ll fly to California for the San Dimas Stage Race on March 25.

This year is a big question mark for me. Trying my hand at this level of racing is kind of like walking out onto a stage in really tall stilettos three sizes too big: I’m either going to make it to the podium looking great, or I’ll fall flat on my face long before I get there. Either way, it’ll make for a good story.

 
Follow our blog to read race reports throughout the season—enter your email address in the field above that says “Follow the ATC blog by email.” Or “like” my somewhat neglected but soon-to-be improved Facebook business/athlete page

Follow team Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good on Instagram and Facebook!




Friday, February 27, 2015

Cervelo Shape of Speed at ATC
Free Science, Free Beer

Next Saturday two Cervelo insiders will be trekking down from the frozen tundra of their Toronto headquarters to ATC Barton Springs. You'll get a chance to learn about the science of bike design, engineering, and aerodynamics directly from a Cervelo engineer. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to ask all those hard, probing questions that have been keeping you up at night, like "How much faster is the P5 than the P3 really?" and "Did it drive you crazy when Garmin rode only the R5 all the time?"  The flyer even promises a glimpse at what Cervelo may be up to next. A P6? An aero mountain bike? Human-powered jets?  Find out in person over free beer and pizza at ATC!

What:
Cervelo Shape of Speed
Free science, engineering, beer, and pizza from Cervelo and ATC
When:
Saturday, March 7, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where:
ATC Barton Springs


Friday, February 20, 2015

ATC Racing's Junior Women Program

by Allison Atkinson

"Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned." - Peter Marshall

I was asked to write a little blog post on ATC's newest, youngest members and how our Junior Squad came about. I wish I had an exciting story, that I could say I'd always wanted to work with juniors, or that I saw a void in the Austin cycling community for the young ladies who wanted to race their bikes and had no team willing to guide them. Well, those thoughts never crossed my mind. This was one of those unintended yet meaningful collaborations that came about through a collection of "small deeds."

Sunday Morning: The juniors and I ride trainers on a rainy day out at Austin Tri-Cyclist 360. We are goofing off during the warmup, blasting Major Lazerthe shop won't open for another two hours. Meanwhile, my mom shouts "Be careful!" to my sweaty five year old son, who's riding hot laps around the length of the shop. The girls' moms hang out while a young ATC employee who just got his USAT coaching license chats with them. The girls tell me about their lives as teenage bike racers.

Estefy Gonzales (16)
Estefy Gonzales

Estefy is one of the loyal participants of my Thursday night spin at ATC360. One night after class she asked if ATC had any openings for junior racers. I admit that I was caught off guard by her interest, yet found myself shaking my head yes and telling her I was sure we could work something out. I was not surprised that the team was supportive. In fact, team manager Marla Briley told me to seek out one or two more juniors.

Estefy's mental toughness is on par with any elite woman. I've seen her brave the coldest and muddiest of conditions to race her bike in cyclocross. She is a natural cyclist, very independent, quiet, and driven. I was surprised by her power the first time I hooked her up to a Computrainer one Thursday night. She races the TXBRA calendar and loves traveling to big stage races like Joe Martin and Tulsa Tough. I'm really excited to see her race with the Adult W4's this Sunday at Pace Bend. Her brother, Alex, also trains with us and "tolerates" being treated as one of the girls, and Estefy's mom, Olga, makes all other minivan moms look basic with her pimped-out support van.

Lily Howe
I came to realize that ATC always wanted a junior team but didn't have time to make it happen. I was already on track towards becoming something of a cycling coach, so leading our juniors would be a good role for me. Within a few weeks the "ATC Junior Squad" became a reality, and I would act as the director/coach with the intentions of keeping things simple and fun for the girls. We quickly added sisters Lily and Hailey Howe to the roster and developed a basic weekly training schedule.

Lily Howe (15)
Lily is a tad more quiet than her outspoken sister, Hailey, but still tough as nails. Polite and poised, she surprised me with her climbing and pack-riding capabilities. She races local triathlons as well as TXBRA events and some NRC events. This Saturday she will race with her sister at Walburg. Both girls run track at Westlake High and swim at Rollingwood. For them, balancing schoolwork with tri training/bike racing while maintaining a fun social life is tough but doable with the support of their amazing parents, Bea and Philip.

Hailey Howe (16)
Hailey, like our entire junior squad, is a regular at the Driveway Series and loves the speed and intensity of crits. She loves hanging out with friends and is rarely seen without a smile on her face. I was impressed with her ability to power up River Hills during our first ride as a team despite having spent the majority of the winter mostly running track. She is easygoing, positive and hard-working. All around, like Lily and Estefy, she is a natural athlete.

Hailey Howe (center)
I remember being a bit older than these young women when I became interested in cycling. My bike racing days (like a lot of women I know) started later in life; though I've always played sports, there were no cycling clubs at my school. After all, in the late 90s bike racing seemed like something really hard to get into. The only women I saw racing were on television in the Olympics. I never thought I'd be lucky enough to race a bike, and I'll never forget my first race and how happy I felt. Having grown up in Austin, it's like one of those "circle of life" things that I'm working with these young ladies. ATC Racing will continue these local "small deeds." We look forward to doing our part to encourage more women to ride or race bikes in the years to come.



Dad Philip Howe rides along with his girls on our Sunday training ride

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Race Report from the 2015 Race Around Austin


"Elbros" with ATC Racing's Allison Atkinson
and Sammi Runnels at Checkpoint B
Jack Cartwright, elite triathlete, former professional mountain biker, and longtime ATC customer, got roped into two difficult tasks this winter: one, racing the 85+ mile, ATC-sponsored Race Around Austin on January 24, and two, authoring a race report for us about the experience!

Jack joined a motley crew of triathletes and roadies on a team that also included Mike Minardi (ATC Racing), Patrick Healey (ATC Racing), Kat Hunter (Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise 4 Good), and pro triathlete Chris “Big Sexy” McDonald. At the end of the day, they finished fifth overall on RAA’s final timing sheet behind teams Team Cycle Progression 2, ELBOWZ Racing, Shred Monster, and La Mancha Driveway Series Racing.


Winner winner, jambalaya dinner - the Cycle Progression 2 team 

A total of 20 five-person teams participated in the event, and if the good-humored crowd can be used as evidence, it’s clear that the day was a success. RAA is definitely in the running for coolest after-party ever, with homemade jambalaya (vegetarian and non-vegetarian options!) made by the ladies of ATC Racing, cornbread and peach cobbler from Terry Black’s Barbecue, locally brewed beer and cider from Independence Brewing Company and Austin Eastciders, and other fun extras like RAA pint glasses and massage from Michelle Hittner’s Austin Massage Company.  At the Sharing America's Marrow table set up for Amy Cottrill Marsh,  more than 175 people joined the national bone marrow donation registry. (If you missed out that day, you can still register online!)


Jack Cartwright’s Race Report:

Team Big Cat was not much of anything a week prior to the race, and it was a strange email from Mike that introduced the race to me and asked that I help find some strong riders to help complete the team. Scramble time! I immediately went to my teammates on Team BSR, as well as my old training partner, and to one of my athletes. My requests fell on deaf ears or were refused based on conflicts, so I went back to Mike with a note that did not express confidence in fielding a team. After some further haranguing (and some great work on Mike’s part), I managed to convince Big Sexy himself to join us, even though he was planning to race the 3M Half Marathon the following day (pushing a double-wide stroller no less!).  Mike pulled in Kat and Patrick and so Team Big (Sexy) Cat was born with 72 hours to the race.

Masterminds of RAA2015, the women of ATC Racing:
Christie Tracy, Sammi Runnels, Katie Kantzes, Missy Ruthven,
Anne Flanagan, Marla Briley, Mina Pizzini, Allison Atkinson.
The Race Around Austin is a first year race inspired by prior years’ Ultra Provocatorios (read the 2011, 2012, 2013 ATC race reports), though RAA is more along the lines of a scavenger hunt. We were given three secret locations (which were revealed the night before the race) that we had to check into as a team and then make our way back to the start/finish point at Austin Tri-Cyclist Barton Springs. We had the option to check into locations in any order that we decided, which made the race quite a strategy event as well as one of physical endurance. The total distance to get to the three points was estimated to be 85-90 or so miles, so it was not going to be an easy race. The ATC Racing women’s team organized it all, and they did an amazing job with the logistics, the checkpoints, food, and other support. Thanks y’all!

The night before the race, our team met at ATC to get the location details and work out our strategy. As Big Sexy and I bantered and let the others do the thinking, a plan emerged that had us go to the point in Cedar Park first, then southeast to the point near the Driveway, and then finally southwest to the third point in Buda. We all left to get our last meal and sleep, and it hit me that with the wind and the way the city was designed, that it made more sense to go east to the Driveway, northeast to Cedar Park, and then south to the Buda-ish point. My reasoning was to take advantage of the good cross route across the city (and my knowledge of the midtown routes), as well as ride with a cross-headwind from the Driveway to Cedar Park. From Cedar Park to the southerly point, we had a strong tailwind that would help us on the longest segment. From there, it was mainly downhill to the finish on Barton Springs Road.

The final plan agreed, we set a time to meet in the morning and all chat ceased. The next morning found lovely, if brisk, weather and loads of teams at ATC. For some reason, I failed to estimate with any accuracy how many people would be keen to do this race and so it looked like our Triathlete/Cyclist/Old Guy team structure might not have been the best compared to the proper cycling teams. Our team was the fifth or sixth team to start (each team started with a three-minute interval). Since our team had distinct neighborhood knowledge by each person we naturally let the most knowledgeable lead, so Kat and Patrick got us moving east to the first point. One of the first things I noticed was how hard we accelerated after every stop (which were many as we crossed the city on two segments), and it gave me pause to wonder just how the hell my non-sprinting legs would feel later in the day.

Our route was pretty straightforward, and we only had one misdirection catch us out after leaving the first checkpoint. We also had two punctures over the course of the day, which was surprising considering we were riding on roads that had seen lots of rain in the prior days and weeks. Getting to the second checkpoint was my area of knowledge, so I took the team on a cross-city meander that had them all wondering if I had lost my mind. Once onto Anderson Mill, we got into a bit of a paceline and quickly made our way to point 2. From there it was a long journey south and for me a point where the legs were definitely feeling the work and the accelerations. Patrick, too, was beginning to show his limits and so the group became a bit less fluid as we worked our way over the hills of 360 and further south into areas I had never seen. Kat and Chris kept us on the right path with no further stoppage and the final point was found a bit quicker than I anticipated. From there it was a short downhill run back into the city to the finish, and loads of Saturday afternoon traffic to greet us.

Rolling into ATC at the end was a great feeling, and I remember being struck by how much fun the overall day was, despite the challenges of the punctures or directional moments. I definitely plan to do this race again in the future. The idea is a really great one—it fosters exploration of the city, and it was very well supported by sponsors.