In October, my family and I attended the Livestrong Challenge event in Austin. We did this with several of our friends from Girls Run (www.girlsrun.net). Girls Run is a local charity running group that my daughter participates in and I assist on the executive board (more on Girls Run in a later post).
My wife and daughter did the 5K on Saturday and I did the 90 Mile Ride with two friends, Jody Gaddy and Mike Bradley.
Lance and his group left 10 minutes before the start of the 90 mile ride. He had several people in his group including Taylor Phinney and other supporters of Livestrong.
Me and a group of about 15 other cyclist hammered it from the start. No one in our group needed to say anything. We all knew what was going on. We were going to catch Lance. After about 10 miles, we did!
Next thing you know, I am riding up next to the king of cycling. I expected him to be surrounded by protection, but it was him and at this time about 30 other riders and a pace car.
After about 5 minutes I found myself riding next to him and we started talking. We talked mostly about Livestrong and Girls Run and how much money we raised for his cause. There was no doubt in my mind that he is very passionate about that organization. Lance was decked out with a custom made Trek and in Livestrong gear from head to toe.
At about mile 20, the pace really picked up. Lance said to the rest of the group “We are not stopping boys, if you can hang you can ride with us.” At that point Taylor went to the front and we were doing 25 mph in the pack. Our group quickly began to thin out and we were down to about 20 people. During this time I was drafting off of Lance a few times, and thinking to myself, please do not run him over. I also found myself with him on my wheel for a bit which was even more nerve racking.
The funny thing about the whole experience was it feeling like any other Sunday ride with friends. The only exception being Lance!
Later in the ride, I asked Lance about my friend Brad Kearns, (www.bradventures.com). Lance and Brad go way back to Lance’s triathlon days and Lance had great things to say about him.
Several friends asked me what it was like speaking with him and I have to say, it was like talking to anyone else in a group ride. There were a lot of laughs, jokes flying, ribbing and all the regular group ride antics. Bottom line, he was just like the rest of us endurance athletes (except he has one the tour seven times).
Well, we hit mile 65, and Lance was not kidding, we were not stopping. I was out of fluids and we hit an aid station. The group went on and 7 others and I stopped to try and re-fuel. The only problem, we could never get back on the group. My dream ride was over.
Lance went on to finish the ride with Taylor and as I was coming in, I found myself catching up to the remnants of the pack. All of them were bonking quite hard.
I finished the 90 miles in 4:10, thanks to some fast pack riding.
As I set here on Saturday morning at the start of my off day in December, I still wonder about that day. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
The Livestrong Challenge events are awesome and I encourage anyone to attend.