Hill Country 600k was a different experience for me in 2011. First, I’d decided to reduce expenses this year by only racing events that don’t require a crew so I entered Hill Country’s “Lone Star” (unsupported) division. Second, I’d really needed a break from riding and training this winter. In contrast to last winter’s day-long roller sessions, my longest indoor training ride in 2011 has been only two hours. But, for a little insurance, I rode 300k and 400k brevets in February.
Because I was riding without a follow crew, I started two hours earlier than the other solo riders. That had some advantages. I paced myself better in the first section, arriving at Medina a few minutes slower than 2010. I enjoyed the climbs on the way to Leakey accompanied by much less motorcycle traffic. I’d kept my stops brief, and though I made a big error by not refilling water bottles at Camp Wood, my time to Rock Springs was a little faster than 2010, and I’d gotten through the hottest part of the route before the day’s high temperature hit.
After Rock Springs, stopping to resupply at time stations, as compared to my super-efficient 2010 crew, started really affecting my time. I was gradually, but unalterably, falling behind last year’s pace.
I’d planned to stop for a sleep break at Llano to make sure I was awake enough to continue alone, and was off my bike there for a total of 4 hours. I felt good for the windy, 30-mile, ascent to Fredericksburg and kept up a decent pace on the bike. The sun rose soon after I turned onto Old San Antonio Road and it was nice to see the scenery I’d missed riding this section in the dark last year.
The climbs to Kendalia seemed much easier; probably due as much as anything to knowing the route and expecting rollers all the way to the end. Edge Falls Road was a peaceful respite before 17 miles of heavy traffic on 3551.
I loved the hills and luxuriously, smooth pavement on Cross Mountain Road. Once at the top, I emptied the tank and pedaled hard on the last few miles to the finish.
As always, George Thomas, hosted a fun, well-organized event. Hill Country 600 is a nice spring ride and a good way to start the season!