Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Suddenly, Autumn!

I've had the opportunity to live in many places across the US - Vermont, Virginia, Illinois, and now Texas.  Every place I go I hear the same thing: If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it'll change.

Summers in Texas tend to bring very consistent conditions.  Hot.  Sunny.  Convection oven breezes.  There's no "wait for to change", it simply doesn't change for 3 months.

This year was different, with the bulk of July avoiding any real resemblance of heat.  We even set some records for lowest highs with some places reporting highs in the upper 70s.  Seriously.  In a state where July usually means LOWS in the upper 70s, frequently the low 80s.

As cyclists, we were not just enjoying this, we were living it up.  It was wonderful.

Finally, summer arrived in August, and we've been seeing more "normal" temperatures.  With that heat came my typical heat-induced physiological failure: my performance guttered.  For 3-4 weeks, I suffered through having a short wick that burned far too fast, and dealt with much longer recovery times that reduced me to a single hard ride a week - and that ride was still soft.

Demoralizing, every year.  This year, it hit right as we came into the prime of the Texas road racing season, kicked off by Hotter than Hell.  Well, at least it continued to live up to its name.

August is the build up for the grand finale of the year, the Texas State Road Race Championships, ridden on Fort Hood outside Copperas Cove.  The heat played a double-whammy on me this year, waiting until August to shred my month of preparation going into my first "real" attempt to race (and hopefully place) in the Championship.

Tuesday, Wednesday were late-blooming heat waves last week, setting new high temperature records on Wednesday (101F).  I had intended to reel back the effort on my ride Tuesday so I'd be rested for the upcoming weekend of racing, but the group was spritely and I let myself get sucked into 25 miles of attacks, and blistering pulls, and generally hard riding.

Oops.

Cloudy skies on Thursday kept temperatures reasonable as I managed to dial back my effort in our group ride.  I took out the TT rig to make sure it was riding reliably before the second stage of the upcoming race: an individual time trial held on Saturday afternoon.

But as they say, if you don't like the weather, wait a bit.  It'll change.

And change it did.

Texas is amazing in one regard - the ability to have downright radical changes in weather in a very short period of time.  A few years ago at the Texas Time Trials the overnight countryside temperatures reached 32 degrees; we were freezing our asses off.  12 hours later, 4 in the afternoon, and it's 96 - with a 30mph south wind.

That was without fanfare.  More amazing is when fronts roll through, taking 80F to 50F in minutes.  Those tend to have a little more excitement - 60mph straight line winds, at least, as the front passes.

So this past weekend was the Coleman Chevrolet Stage Race held in Douglassville, TX, about 30 miles outside of Texarkana in the east Texas countryside.  And it was 101 on the Wednesday before.

But not this weekend.  Friday morning brought the sound of raindrops on our skylight as we awoke.  It was downright chilly as we drove to work that morning.   WOOHOO!

We were fortunate to have perfect weather conditions all weekend, with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s or low 60s.  You couldn't ask for a better race weekend.

This coming weekend is the Texas Time Trials, where I plan to ride the 6-hour solo "upright" (non-recumbent) event.  TTT is technically not a "race" per se, although the promoters make that mistake on occasion.

That said, I have, or had, designs to chase the course record, but again Texas weather will likely get in the way: we're going to get heavy rain Saturday afternoon.  Looks like I'll be taking precautions to ensure I have a safe ride.

I have a State Road Race Championship to prepare for.

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