For the 7 days that I was in Texas, Z and his family (now MY family too) graciously allowed me to bring my other half. No, not Z (but of course he was coming), but my other “other” half, that light blue Look 585. She had never been to Texas, and she wanted to come explore the West Texas plains. I had to oblige her, didn’t I?
Charlie had given us a simple plan, and instead of getting lost on the countless country roads, I opted to stick with the roads that I knew from running on them in years past. Riding in West Texas is unlike anything I have ever experienced in California. West Texas doesn’t actually have any hills. No, not really any. The most elevation I gained in my adventures was the occasional roller up and overpass or something like it. As I sat at consistent wattage and pedaled along, I realized that I had learned quite about riding in West Texas. Marin is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but don’t take for granted the endless open roads of other places on the map. Welcome to Snyder, Texas. Home of the White Buffalo.
- Flat roads yield great option for high cadence. High high cadence with no worry about changes in the terrain interrupting your rhythm
- With that glorious rhythm comes some extreme “saddle” damage if you don’t take advantage of either a) chamois crème, b) getting out of the “saddle, c) mixing up your celebrated rhythm, or d) all of the above.
- A TT bike would have been excellent. No worries about running out of road, stop signs, corners, descents, or anything else except a really long (think the size of TX long) stretch of smooth pavement with only the occasional car, I mean truck.
- If you get a flat, don’t count on seeing a fellow cyclist. Or better yet, don’t consider seeing another human being for quite sometime. Either bring all your supplies, and if you run out, also have a back-up tent and survival kit, or have a BlackBerry with excellent reception to call your nearest loved one. If you sit on the side of the road long enough, the buzzards will start hovering waiting for their next meal…
- The water tower in the distance may be your marker that you are almost home, but don’t let it fool you. Just because you can see it, doesn’t mean you are close to home. That Snyder Tigers water tower can be seen for miles, and miles, and miles…
- Who needs hills when you have a headwind? I was complaining I didn’t have hills to scurry up in Scurry County, but found that the 30mph headwind in 46degree weather was worse than any mountain I have ever encountered. I was in my littlest gear possible and barely turning the pedals. Puts a whole new meaning onto the SFR…
- When embraced by a headwind, either spin it out, and if that fails, it might be faster to get off your bike and begin running. Running can be faster than riding in a headwind, even if the road is pancake flat. If not, look for a draft of an oil truck passing by, but I learned I can’t draft them at 70mph.
- People, when you see them on your ride, honk, wave and are generally happy to see you, not that they know what you are doing in a superhero costume riding around their farmland. They may even stop to ask what you are doing and why.
- The squeaking isn’t your chain, it is most likely the oil rig you are passing near someone’s front yard. Inhale the sweet smell of money getting churned out of the ground.
- If it is not an oil rig, it may be a giant windmill generation clean energy to provide the rest of the world. Thank you West Texas for your wonderful, energy producing wind that is a clean, green sustainable energy.
- Take note which road you are on at all times. They can get confusing, and when you call to be rescued, it would be good to know where you are located. There are county roads, highways, and farm market roads. I don’t know the difference, but you will need to know.
- Don’t except the local Walmart to carry tubes, a pump with a presta valve, or anything else you need. Be prepared to pack in your bike stuff and pack it out. No one wants to keep it there.
- In order to encourage higher power output in an interval, frequent the roads where you know there is a feisty pitbull, blue heeler, or any other creature that wants to chase you while nipping at your heels, I mean, back wheel. As you yell for them to quit, and pedal like your life depends on it, because it does, the owner runs out on his front porch and scoffs, “He don’t bite!” I don’t want to take my chances, buddy.
- Then, learn how to explain your Z2 interval to your coach with a 900w peak in it, and place the blame on the rabid ranch dogs and their owners.
- Find the farm roads that avoid such dogs. And if not, ramp up your speed prior to passing the house, and pray you are down wind…
- Ride. Wind. Snow. Ice. They are farming in that weather, so you might as well ride.
- They like football, and you aren’t a football player. Get used to it.
- Intervals are your rescue for flat roads, and they can be done with such ease. The roads are open and ready for you to do laps and laps on them clocking in your intervals. Besides, if you do intervals up and down the same road, the chances of you getting lost are slim.
- If you hear gunshots, don’t fear. That’s normal. Packing heat amongst your Clif bars is not necessary.
- When you ride from one town to the next, which is 80 miles away, be prepared for the shocked expressions of those asking you where you came from. Then take a little satisfaction in the fact that yes, you might be considered a little hard core in this neck of the woods, I mean plains…
- There are lots and lots of roads out there, just waiting to be ridden! Let me know if you want some suggestions! Me, I prefer Hwy350 to FM1609.
Overall, my bike was thrilled to join the family for Thanksgiving. She was received with a genuine Texas welcome, and she will be back… I am ready to see if my legs remember how to climb, but I also have gained a new appreciation for the ease of intervals on an open, flat road. I had an amazing time learning the focus and determination I was made up of when it really counted—when there were no distractions, no excuses, just me and a long, long stretch of pavement.
Thank you West Texas for making me stronger. And thank you for giving me a reason to inhale BBQ and buttermilk pie.