Saturday was the Real Ale Ride in Blanco, TX. I had not done it before (there was just last year, and I heard that one was cancelled due to super high winds at starting time).
I planned on doing the 80 mile route (they sometimes listed it as 85...and their own GPS-published version of the map shows it as 77-something). That didn't happen: the ride started late, I blew some time with a flat around mile 14 or so, and the hills sure didn't speed me along. While waiting to refill my water bottles at rest stop two (and later searching for a full size pump, in vain), a ride worker runs around yelling "if you are going to do the 80 mile route, you have to leave within the next minute and a half!!" I looked around and saw a bunch of people in the drink line basically shrug like 'oh well, darn ;)'. So, everyone left was shunted to the 65 mile route.
It was a pretty nice ride, and basically what I was guessing it would be: pretty hilly and scenic. Blanco is about 20 minutes south of Johnson City, straight down 281. If you've driven to San Antonio via 281 before: that hilly stuff you drive through along the way was the sort of landscape for this ride. It was mostly rural FM/RM county roads running alongside ranches with wandering cattle. I took these photos from just before the 50 mile stop:
I should have taken some earlier in the ride, where it was particularly hilly (mile 9 sticks out, as does 36/37). 9 was abrupt and steep, while the 36/37 was loooong and sustained climbing. All of the extra pounds I was carrying with me were particularly unwelcome on that second hill!
I actually got a second flat right after the long climb, at the 40 mile rest stop. It was kind of bizarre: after my 14 mile flat, I used a CO2 inflator to get my tire up to about 100 psi. I'd looked for a full size pump at the 25 mile stop to try to top it off to 110-120, but couldn't find one. I did find one at the 40 mile stop, and proceeded to pump up to about 120. I propped my bike up against a fence, and went to refill my water bottles. While I was in line, I heard a loud pop...loud enough that everyone turned to see what it was. It was my bike, still over by the fence. It seems that I must have had a pinch right by the valve stem when I changed the last flat, and ha ridden with that pinch from 14-40..and the extra inflation up to 120 was enough to push it over a threshold and pop it. The tire was totally off the rim near the valve stem when I went to see what had happened. Luckily, the Bicycle Sport Shop van was at the stop at this point, and so I was promptly hooked up with a free tube (I'd only brought one, using it for the 14 mile flat) and use of a full size pump. The mechanic also was kind enough to slightly adjust one a limit screw after I inquired about a bit of clicking I heard in my small ring (but not the big) -- that fixed it.
The ride finishes right at the Real Ale brewery (where it started). Each rider gets 2 Real Ale beers of their choice, as well as BBQ catered by Riley's. The food was good, as was the beer. The only minus here was the lack of throughput on the food line; it kind of sucks to finish a ride like that and then wait in a 45 minute long line in a very hot (99 for the high in Austin, not sure what it was there) parking lot with no shade. There were about 1400 riders; maybe I happened to be going through the line around a peak time.
I ran into Jane Bui and Roman when I was there (right at the start, and then again after finishing my BBQ). Didn't see any other familiar faces, though. I did see a Circle C Ranch Cycling Club jersey, though (kept running into the same guy).
This was also the first long ride for my new saddle, the Koobi PRS Alpha. So far, so good -- pretty comfortable, and not broken in at all yet. Two other things got their first long-ride exposure: the Polar F11 that I got for Christmas (worked great, very comfortable strap) and some BodyGlide (no complaints here; definitely worth a try after the MS150 experience!).