Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Somehow my beginners page #6 does not show up on the archive pages until you click on "February". I have tried to delete and publish again, all I wind up with is multiple posts that don't show up.

But the site is free and I have fun with it so I just have to put up with the quirks.

Beginners Page # 6 First Time Trial

We were fairly new to biking and the biking club scene and we started hearing something about “time trials”. On the old club website, an announcement stated the general area where the trials would be held. We misread the route and drove 12 miles up Susan B. Peak from Mikulik Road and parked the vehicle. Now if anyone has ridden from that direction toward town, you know that it is pretty much downhill and with the wind. So on our exploratory trip, we made pretty good time and came within minutes of the slowest time in the previous year’s rides. Confidence was building.

Through listening to people, we discovered that we had ridden the wrong route, so we went out to try again. After taking the correct route, we came upon Dominic Santos out riding; we stopped to talk, and I recognized him as President of the club that we had just joined. He was encouraging us to participate in the time trials that were to start within a few weeks. I laughed because I had just gotten under 50 minutes and knew that wasn’t very impressive. Dominic said it wasn’t about beating anyone, it was to try to beat your own time. Yeah, right.

A few days later I had my old bike in the shop, and Randy started encouraging us to ride the time trials. He also emphasized that it was all about beating your own time, not racing anyone. Now, if I just had to beat myself I didn’t have much competition, so I decided to try it out.

Finally the big day came, and it was time to ride the wind. And ride the wind was the theme of the day. The wind was SSW 20 gusting to 30. Anyone who has ridden Susan Peak knows that SSW blows right into your face as you make that loooong 5.7 miles before the first turn. Christine backed out of riding but goaded me into it. Of course they placed me first in line (slowest first) because a few had already seen me ride. I thought I was being honored by being first in line. Silly me.

And then we were off. But as I started, the wind almost blew me backward instead of letting me charge away. Nervous energy got me to rolling up Susan Peak and I was off. On the first time trial of the year, riders were started in one minute increments. After the first part of my nervous energy was spent, I settled into my stride of at least 8 miles an hour. That wind was hurting me, but I was determined to finish the course. Suddenly after a half mile, the person who started behind me passed me with words of encouragement. Every half mile thereafter another person would pass me with words of encouragement. Club members are so nice, as they would pass me one would say “Good job,” another “Keep it up,” or express concern, “Are your brakes dragging?”

Finally I made the turn onto Walling Pecan and into a cross-wind. That really helped and I was able to hit about 18 miles per hour. I knew I was on a roll as people were passing me every mile instead of the half mile. And then I was able to turn onto Mikulik with the wind to my back and I hit a respectable 20-22 miles per hour on the last stretch. Almost too late. Almost everyone had passed me by that time, so I was still riding by myself. Thank goodness I was only racing against myself, or I would have run out of opponents.

I was so happy to cross that finish line. Remember when I was practicing and had just barely gone under 50 minutes? Well, under the observation of just about everyone, I came in with a whopping time of 54 minutes, or to save you a little time, 13.3 miles per hour average. I am not sure anyone has every “beaten” that time—more slowly. So I may hold a club record and not be aware of it. No trophy for slowest ever time?

As soon as I got back home I hit the internet with a query of “how to ride a bicycle into the wind”. The answer was “lean into the wind dummy.” Yes, I had been riding sitting up as if on a Sunday leisure ride. And surprise, surprise. I learned something else. You know the lower part of the handle bars that I found they call drop bars? They aren’t for short people after all!!! When you place your hands on them, that makes you lower and you can lean into the wind and have support so you don’t have to hold yourself up by straining the arms and back too much.

I am happy to report that I had logged my worst time ever, and since time trials are just to beat your own time that was “easy” to do as the standard was so low. Just trying to beat myself I did not have the stiff competition of the other riders.

Time trial season is about to start again. I would really like for someone to beat my record time. I am ready to share the honor with someone else.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Steam N Wheels

Steam N Wheels
Saturday March 15, 2008
Abilene, Texas

Saturday March 15, 2008, three riders from SABA received honors by placing in their categories in the Abilene Steam N Wheels 48 mile Race-Tour. Rick and Velma Ogan were second place in the Tandem Bike category and Christine Jones was third in the women’s 45+ category.

One of the great things about their accomplishment was that they were “touring” rather than starting at the front to race the whole distance. Also to their credit, it was a chilly 55 degrees at the start with a north wind. For almost the entire last half of the course there was a 12-14 MPH wind straight in the face.

Steam N Wheels is an annual Race-Tour sponsored by the City of Abilene Recreation Division and the Abilene Bicycling Club.

It features a kid ride, 21 mile, 32 mile, and a 48 mile race or tour route. Awards were given for the first three places in each division of the men’s, women, and tandem bike categories. The Abilene Reporter-News stated that almost 200 attended and attracted world-class riders. The course was rolling hill country with some flat roads. Personal observation, due to the wind direction, the wind was at the backs during the flat portion; of course not the hilly parts. Excellent traffic control support was provided by police, and the rest stations were stocked with drinks, bananas, cookies and friendly volunteers.

As the event is within easy driving distance from San Angelo, it is hoped that next year a good turn out from SABA will occur and a few more mugs from Abilene will be brought home.

Note: The above was a review of last year's event. This year Steam N Wheels will be held Saturday March 21. Registration form may be obtained by calling 325-676-6431, or emailing Pre-registration deadline is March 13, 2009. Pre-registration fee is $20.00 and late registration fee is $25.00. Start time is 10:00 a.m. Last year we decided to attend at the last moment so we arrived a little early and easily registered at the site.

The 48 mile race/tour mentioned is just one of the choices. Steam N Wheels also has a 32 and 21 mile fun ride. Christine is trying to get together new comers to cycling and ride the 21 mile to expose newer bikers to the fun and excitement of organized tours.