Outlaw Trail 100

The 23rd annual Outlaw Trail 100 bicycle tour started at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock at 8:00 AM yesterday.  The temperature at the start was right at 60 degrees:  a bit on the chilly side to ride without a vest or arm warmers, but I knew that it’d warm up pretty soon.  It got to about 85 in mid afternoon.

The Outlaw Trail ride is much smaller than the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred that I did in August.  I shared the road with 13,000 riders in Wichita Falls.  There were a total of about 1,000 riders at the start yesterday, many of them doing one of the shorter distances (10, 25, 40, 50, or 63 miles).  Still, there was quite a bit of excitement among the riders lined up at the start.

The ride started promptly at 8:00 with the 100 milers going first.  My goal for today was to be more consistent than I was in my previous ride.  A secondary goal was to improve my time, but I was more interested in conserving energy so I didn’t suffer the last third of the ride like I did in August.

I kept a good eye on my heart rate monitor for the first 40 miles or so, to ensure that I kept it below 80% of max effort.  Except on the hills, of which there were many more than in Wichita Falls, I largely succeeded.  But even on the hills I kept it below 90%, and usually below 85%.  One of the better pieces of advice I’ve read on the subject says that the secret to completing an endurance event like this is “never go anaerobic.”  85% of max heart rate is generally regarded as the limit of aerobic effort, so it’s critical to know your max heart rate and what values represent 65%, 75%, and 85%.

Besides going out too fast, I made two other mistakes in Wichita Falls:  I failed to eat enough and I didn’t drink enough water.  At my normal pace, I burn from 30 to 40 calories per mile, so I have to consume 450 or more calories per hour while I’m riding.  There’s a certain amount of easily-converted fuel in my blood stream and stored as muscle glycogen, but I’d be surprised if that could take me more than two hours when I’m pushing it.

My plan for the day was to skip every other water stop (placed at approximately 12 mile intervals) along the course.  With the cooler temperatures, my two water bottles were enough to carry me 25 or 30 miles, so there was no danger of running out of water between stops.  I did exactly as planned for the first half of the ride, except I stopped at 30 miles because I had to pee.  That cost me about a minute and a half of waiting for the one porta-potty to become available.

I didn’t consume 450 calories every hour, but I ate a whole lot more on this ride than I did in Wichita Falls, and I was fairly consistent about it.  I did slack off on my eating between 60 and 75 miles, during which I was pushing pretty hard against the wind (it’s surprising how one forgets the important things as they become more important, but there it is), and I ended up paying for that between 80 and 90 miles.

As I mentioned, there were fewer riders on the course here than in Wichita Falls.  There, I could almost always see a dozen or more riders in close proximity.  Although I was rarely completely alone on yesterday’s ride, there were plenty of times when the only rider I could see was hundreds of yards ahead of me.  Although there were always riders within sight, I spent most of the ride alone.  I didn’t join a paceline at any time, although a few impromptu lines formed behind me when I was headed into the wind.

There was one group who played leapfrog with me from 20 miles on.  There were stopping at every water station and spending a lot of time there.  I was making very brief stops at every other station.  So I’d pass them at almost every water station, and they’d pass me between stations.  We arrived at the 90 mile station at about the same time, and they passed me about five miles before the end of the ride.  That discouraged me for a bit and I slowed down.  When another rider caught me, I talked to him for a few minutes and realized that I was feeling pretty darned good.

I kicked up the pace the last four miles, really pushing to see if I could finish strong.  As a result, I passed a half dozen riders in the last couple of miles, including a few who had been in the leapfrog group and, I suspect, had been unable to keep up with the leaders when they kicked up the pace.

All told, I finished the 100 miles in 6 hours and 38 minutes, with an overall average speed of 15.1 MPH.  That’s 0.3 MPH better than my average speed in Wichita Falls.  The interesting thing is that my moving average of 15.9 MPH was almost a full mile per hour slower than in my previous ride.  The difference is that during that ride I spent 50 minutes off the bike.  This time I spent just a little over 20 minutes off the bike.

I didn’t finish the ride as fast as I had hoped, but I made a big improvement over the last ride.  Overall, I’m very satisfied with my performance.

Only 1,100 miles left to meet my goal of 20,000 by the end of the year!