Yesterday was the 2015 Tour de Cure San Antonio, a cycling event to help raise money to find a cure for diabetes. This was the third time I’ve ridden it, and the first time I felt in good enough shape to attempt the century course (century = 100 miles). In order to fit in such a long ride, we arrived at the site at 6am! Note: I’m not one of those crazy people who think this is a good time to be doing anything other than drinking coffee.
We were scheduled to start at 6:30, so we all lined up at the starting line before then. But the event organizers thought that it would be a wonderful idea to talk to the riders about all the wonderful things we were helping to accomplish by raising the funds that we did, so they kept us waiting until just before 7:00, straddling our bikes. I was ready to go a half hour earlier, and instead of starting the ride out ready to conquer the world, I started the ride feeling kind of crabby. All the rides do this to some degree, but keeping us waiting for over 30 minutes was uncalled for.
The weather was the big question mark, with rain and thunderstorms moving across the region. And, of course, we didn’t escape them! It started around mile 25, and continued for the next 10 miles or so. Lightning, rain, big wind gusts (straight into our face, of course!), but I kept going, knowing that there was a cutoff time for the century: if you didn’t reach the point where the 100 and 65 mile routes diverged by 11am, you wouldn’t be allowed to do the century, because you wouldn’t finish in time. Here’s a shot of the rest stop right after the rain stopped.
You really can’t see how soaked everyone is, but trust me, my gloves and socks were pretty soggy! You can, however, see the patches of blue sky just beginning to break through. The rest of the ride was dry, which was a relief.
I got to the rest stop located 3 miles before the point where the routes split a few minutes after 10am, so I was happy that I made the effort to ride through the bad weather. I’ve only done a full century once before, and it was really important to me to not have that be a one-time event. I headed out from that rest stop, and continued down the road. If you haven’t done a ride like this, they give you a map of the route ahead of time, but most of the roads are in pretty remote areas where you don’t know the roads, so you navigate with the help of signs put up on the side of the road by the event organizers. They have each route marked with a different color, so where the routes diverge is easy to see. So I rode ahead with some others who were also doing the century, but a few miles later we came upon a sign that only listed the 65-mile route; there was no mention of the 100! We stopped, thinking that we must have missed the sign; perhaps it had blown over in the storm, and we all didn’t see it. Just then a marshall drove up (the routes are patrolled by ride marshalls, who make sure that riders are safe), so we stopped him to ask about the 100 mile route. He checked it out on the radio, and then told us that we should go to the next rest stop, where the routes will diverge. Well, I got to that stop, and asked the people there, and they told us that they had pulled the direction signs for the century an hour earlier than planned! I was furious! All of the work I had put in to training for this ride, and all of the discomfort of riding through the thunderstorm so I could make the cutoff, and they took that away from me and many other riders for no reason.
So I took out my phone, pulled up the century route PDF, and tried to plot a path to go to one of the rest stops on that route. I couldn’t backtrack to find the turnoff intersection, because even if I had, I would have been much too late at this point. So I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the full century, but at least I’d get as close as I could. So Google Maps plotted a route, and I took off, ignoring the signs for the 65 mile route, and creating my own.
The only problem was that Google Maps thinks that there are a bunch of roads in that area that simply don’t exist. I went up and down the roads it suggested, until I finally gave up and figured I had better head back to the finish of the ride. Here’s one example: note that the map in the lower left corner shows a road, but what is actually there is a driveway made of sand that dead-ends at someone’s house. The map shows it continuing all the way through. And yes, I plan on letting the fine folks at Google Maps know about this problem.
So I rode back to the highway, and continued west until I hit the return path for the century route. I followed that back to the finish, with a total of 81 miles on the day (here’s the RunKeeper record of my ride). And waiting for me at the end was my wonderful woman Linda, who has done so much to support me for this ride. It was great to see her smiling face!
So while I didn’t get to complete another century, I did have an unusually adventurous ride. I do hope that the organizers learn from this event, because I would really like to do it again next year, and it is for a very good cause. If you’re interested in donating, they are still accepting donations for this event for the next few weeks, so follow this link and give what you can.