What a blast!
Got up bright and early at 4:30am to drive to Italy, Texas for the Tour d’Italia. This was my third time for this ride and the first in the Quest.
The town population probably triples during this ride with more than 1,200 riders spread amongst the various routes.
I started up front with the fast rider doing the 63 mile route. By the time we took a couple of twisty turns on getting away from the High School starting line and out onto the main road out of town about 60 strong riders had already passed me.
Once onto the main road the fun started. Smooth road and a little down hill allowed me to quickly catch and pass all the riders and around the first mile marker I passed the leaders. Well they took that as a challenge not to let the old fat guy in the banana get out in front. They hunkered down, put the peddle to the metal, to catch me and hang onto my tail for as long as they could. We cruised at 32 to 33 mph with them drafting right on my tail for the next 3 miles on very level road. Every time I looked in my rear view mirrors they had their serious looking riding faces on, were in a very tight pace line and just inches from my rear bumper.
My heart rate was pegged at 150 and I was putting some hard effort (for me) into the peddling.
Eventually around the 2.9 mile mark I hit a slight downhill and was able to up the speed to 36-37 mph and hold it for about 1⁄2 mile. This allowed me to start pulling away and they then back off on their speed significantly.
At 4.5 miles started a long uphill climb which really slowed my speed down. The lead pack quickly caught me and passed me like I was standing still. I looked at my average speed and I averaged 27.5 mph for the first 4.5 miles. It quickly decreased to 22.5 mph while I climbed the first long hill.
Around mile 15 started a 10 mile stretch, very slightly downhill and into a significant headwind. I caught most of everyone who had passed me on the last 5 mile rolling, climbing terrain by the time I reached Silver City.
The road was a glass smooth 3 miles on Route 31 from Silver City to the turn off for Navarro Mills. Four lanes with a middle median, and a very wide shoulder to ride on, good downhill but a very significant head wind. The second to the lead pack was in front of me and I used the opportunity to draft them for the first mile while I caught my breath and rested some.
The last mile of Route 31 before the Navarro Mills turn off started with a good downhill and I was able to boost the Quest speed to 30 mph - into the headwind! I quickly passed the group in front of me and held 30 mph for the next mile until I had to turn on route 667 heading north back to Italy. I managed to hold off all but two of the stronger riders from the second pack by the time I reached rest stop 3.
About mile 31 Mark and Linda Metcalfe pass me for the last time. We had been trading places for the last 30 miles. I get ahead on the downhills, they get ahead on the uphills. By now my legs were toast and this time when they passed me I knew that I would not be catching them again.
It 33.5 miles the routes split between the 63 mile route and the 50 mile route. Seeings as how I had started way too fast and my legs were talking loudly to me, I made a command decision to shorten my ride from the planned 63 miler to the easy-peasy, 50 miler.
Turns out where the 50 mile route splits from the 63 mile route, the 40 mile route re-joins and I spent the remaining 17 miles passing riders left and right. Several times some strong 40 milers would see me coming from way back and try to hold me off as long as possible. There were two exceptionally strong 40 milers that managed to hold me off for several miles. One woman rider I did not catch until just a couple of miles from the finish.
All in all a great ride. 50 miles at 19.0 mph.