Well, we've passed the Dehydrator without passing out on the side of the road, or at least not for long. The day dawned cool and fresh, long after we were all on the road headed for Duncan. None of us had done this ride before, so we were excited to see what it would be like. We expressed this excitement by being the crabbiest bunch of cyclists ever to arrive at an event. Blake the Mini-WAACO was the exception. He was trying to pump up Shana's tire without letting his captured cricket go.
The route proved to be hillier than we expected. To add insult to injury there were a couple of tall and long hills near the beginning of the ride, before we were really warmed up. I was riding with Dianne (she was tired, so was actually riding at my "modest" speed). Helen was doing our distance, but she blew past us early on and we never saw her on the route. We last saw Shana and Kim at the second stop. Their route and ours parted soon after this point. The day got hotter (and hotter), the road stayed hilly. It was not as punishing as some of the previous rides this year, but the heat really became a factor. We saw loads of cattle and horses, and discovered that apparently everyone in Stephens County has a burro or a mule.
About ten miles out from the finish Dianne and I were looking forward to the last rest stop. Looking down the road I could not see it, and decided that I could not go any farther without getting off the bike for a minute. We took a break under a tree for a few minutes. Dianne cooled herself off by pouring water over her head, but my wet hair is all sweat - ewww. Once we got on our bikes again the last rest stop revealed itself not a mile down the road. This is where we found out that it was a bad idea to have a snow cone when you are REALLY hot. I stopped eating mine in the nick of time, knowing that I would be sorry later if I didn't but Dianne paid the price in the form of stomach cramps. The last eight miles were tough, especially since we had to climb the identical long and tall hills that so displeased us at the start of the ride. For a ghastly moment we thought we may have passed our turn and would be wandering the streets of Duncan, but at last our arrow appeared.
This is pretty much how we felt. Several of us had heat rashes on our legs. Shana and I had each ridden our longest distance ever, but were nearly too tired to be excited about it. This was a good training ride for all of us because the spring and early summer have been so cool and wet that we have not been able (or compelled!) to prepare much for heat. Because we are less than a month out from Hotter N Hell this is fast becoming a training issue. There is just no substitute for training in the heat. No amount of theory really takes the place of trying our your hydration and nutrition strategies on the road, as no one thing works for all riders. I am reassured that I can keep up the required pace to make it to Hell's gate in time to ride my century, which I have been very concerned about. In general it was a good ride, and it's always fun when the WAACOS get together.