Today I set a new personal record! I rode 118.4 miles. I was only supposed to ride 97. I’ll explain later. Here’s the pictures:

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Today I rode for Mrs. Buck. She was a great family friend and also a Kindergarten teacher at my elementary school. I fondly remember visiting her in Chincoteague, VA at her house and walking around the beach and touring the island one summer. Unfortunately she passed from cancer when I was young, but left behind so many fond memories! I actually dedicated yesterday to her as well, but her name never made it onto my calf, so I dedicated my day to her again today:

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Today started out REALLY well. We were up and out at 7:30 which is a little late for a planned 97 mile ride. My ride group started out as Allison, Kirk, Danny, and Jackie. This is them in our beautiful paceline through the headwind:

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Everything was going SO smoothly. A flat here or there, but we were rolling great until about mile 40. At mile 40 there was a pavement crew repaving a road. Half of our team got there before they paved over our chalk marking the route and the other half were not so lucky. I was in the other half and we ended up following the wrong road for 12 miles. We realized we were going the wrong way when there was no water stop waiting for us. We were really close to the river dividing Louisiana and Texas, and the only way over it was 12 miles back the way we came. So we did the only thing we could do. Biked back. You can clearly see where we got lost in the GPS route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/532109666.

Realizing this would add about 25 miles to our ride and make our total around 130 miles, some people decided to hop in the van to shuttle to where the rest of the team was waiting. I don’t blame them one bit because a surprise 130 mile day is NO joke. A planned century ride is tough enough as it is! Three of us, Brad, Danny, and myself decided not to shuttle and to bike the whole thing. There was no rule saying I had to get in the van, so I didn’t. I would ride an extra 25 miles any day for Mrs. Buck or the young adult cancer patients we are riding for. They’re not giving up and neither am I. We knew the van would be leaving us, so with 60 miles left until our host, we each ate some snacks and left with over 100 oz. of water each in our bottles and on our backs. Our plan was to stop where we could for water and paceline it the whole way to hopefully catch up with the team before they arrived at the host. We were fully prepared for a long unsupported day.

To our immense surprise, 15 miles later we passed the entire team still eating lunch at the water stop everyone shuttled to. We waved as we biked on by. We didn’t even stop. We already had enough water and were ready for more miles! How did we do it? We didn’t mess around. We stopped to take a selfie at the Texas line for literally 5 minutes:

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Nailed it on the second try. Then we were off! We maintained a medium pace, around 16-17mph the whole way (which anyone on the team can do) and even took a bathroom break! It really puts in perspective how much time we waste at water stops when one group can ride an extra 23 miles at a reasonable pace while the rest of the team is sitting still. Today everyone else came in at around 95 miles, but my group came in at 118.4! And to think it took us both the same amount of time. Of course once we caught back up to the van, we no longer rode unsupported and finished the rest of the ride with the team.

We biked over this today:

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Yeah. What a sight to see at mile 97! That’s Rainbow Bridge in Bridge City, Texas. Not joking. That is the actual name. It even has it’s own Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Bridge_(Texas). Here’s another angle from the other side:

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This hill was probably the biggest we’ve seen and the first to make me drop into the granny gear. For those who don’t know, that’s the easiest gear on your bike that is almost a little embarrassing to use. Anyway, we got pulled over by a cop halfway up the climb. Right in the middle of the bridge. He told us that despite the fact that we were completely within the law to be doing what we were doing, it was really dangerous. He had a point, although we’ve ridden on roads that were busier and had less of a shoulder than this bridge. The only difference was the height. I really wasn’t nervous riding over it at all. Anyway, he escorted us the whole way across and then arranged an escort for the rest of our team.

After that it was a straight shot to the host. We even managed to cut a few miles off! When we arrived, there was a news lady filming us and the biggest welcome we have ever received. Everyone here at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Beaumont, TX was really excited for us to arrive! They had frozen fruit, gatorade, water, and popsicles waiting for us just to “cool us off”. Then on top of that there was dinner and dessert! There was also a TON of mail. Thank you all for your donated tubes! Our hosts even took our laundry to wash tonight and one of the women was a massage therapist who is still here now at 11:40pm helping our team with all of our ailments! She brought her massage table and oils and is going to town! The people here couldn’t be nicer and it’s great to stay at such a wonderful host!

Tomorrow we’re riding 80-some miles to somewhere in Texas. We will be in Texas for around two weeks! The weather here is hot, but a lot dryer. I didn’t drip sweat as much today even though it was 95 degrees out. It actually didn’t feel too bad. I think we’ve definitely had hotter days. I think some of the people at this host will be riding out with us tomorrow morning and they even helped us to pick a route that will be gravel free and with wide shoulders. I’m really happy to be out of Louisiana. Their roads suck and we have a lot of maintenance problems in Louisiana. Hopefully we will fare better in Texas.

Remember to comment on my posts and check out Facebook! There’s a video on my timeline that my dad put together of our team, and also a video interview that Simon took of Max and I today at the end of our ride! I didn’t get to nap today so I’m about to go pass out!

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