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Yesterday's LIVESTRONG Challenge was indeed a challenge.

The bad-

The hills were killer (.pdf); Lance said at the start line that-- being a resident of Dripping Springs, Texas-- they were the hills that really won him the 7 Tours de France. The heat and humidity got substantially worse than Chicago marathon levels by midday, and the ride itself took until maybe 2 PM. There was also a low water crossing with algae early in the ride, and the course organizers made us dismount and walk across in the ankle-deep water. Of course, I couldn't get my slippery shoes clipped back into my pedals on the other side of the creek (which went steeply upward), which forced me to expend a lot more energy than I should have and otherwise push my leg muscles to the brink, as if I were doing squats with way too much resistance/mass. Rookie mistake. On a similar note, several cattle guards on the roads meant that we had to brake at low spots, which meant less momentum heading back up the hills.

Despite plenty of hydration and bananas and other snacks along the way (it was an extremely well-organized ride), cramps got the best of me (along with several other riders-- maybe it was a psychological domino effect) on one particular uphill climb, and while stretching out on the ground, I ended up with no fewer than a dozen fire ant bites on my right arm. Nothing like fire ants biting you to get you up off the ground. Some of the roads were extremely rough, mostly because they are country roads, but also due to all of this summer's monsoon-like rains flowing down the hills and causing erosion. I probably didn't draft enough behind packs early on, which wasted a good deal of energy. I made some mistakes that could have and should have been avoided.

And most of all, I certainly did not train as much or as hard as I would have liked, which is always frustrating when doing something like this.

The good-

All of that being said, it was a beautiful morning, with a perfect sunrise and perfect temperatures at the start line. It was tranquil and serene for much of the ride. Longhorns grazing near hay bales and lazily flowing creeks and rivers. Big live oak trees spreading out for miles. A few downhill screams of 40+ mph in the middle of Nowhere, Texas, one in particular that made me say to myself, "even if I get two flat tires before I finish, that right there made it worth it." And, hey, I didn't even get a flat tire, something that usually seems to happen to me on rides more than 15 miles or so. Nor did I chafe or have any other soreness from the saddle. I also managed to avoid sunburn, which is a miracle, given my propensity to become crispy in a hurry. Traffic was not an issue getting there or out of there. I felt safe the entire ride. There were eager supporters along the way, cheering and encouraging riders. Refreshments were plentiful and of high quality- they even had Haribo gummy bears. All in all, a very good experience. It's definitely a ride I would recommend to others and do again myself in the future. If I had to give the LIVESTRONG Challenge a grade, compared to other similar events, I'd give it an A.

Indeed, as far as extreme challenges go, the LIVESTRONG Challlenge was really a piece of cake compared to a regular ole marathon... or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. It also puts the Tour de France, which is essentially three straight weeks of 100+ mile rides, into perspective.

For those of you (Hoodlumman, Mick Wright, Giacomo, Zsa Zsa) who contributed to my fundraising goal, thank you very, very much.

The ugly-

As soon as event pictures are available, I'll try to post it/them here. I know you all can hardly wait to see photos of me in spandex shorts.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 October 2007 06:18 PM


I am so glad you made it. What are you going to do next? Austin really does have killer hills...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at October 16, 2007 07:04 AM

Congratulations Will! Not many can say they have done let alone finished such a race.

Posted by: Scott Larrison at October 16, 2007 11:49 AM

well done Will

Posted by: b from t at October 16, 2007 08:07 PM