The ride

For those of you not taking part in this week end’s Livestrong Challenge, I thought you might like to experience the ride second-hand. These details have been taken from My annotations are in italics.

The 90 mile (145km) course will take you deep into Hays and Blanco Counties on lonely and picturesque country roads that are responsible for making Lance a household name. I thought winning the Tour de France made him a household name! 

The course departs out of Dripping Springs, ‘the gateway to the hill country’, onto a complete lane closure on Hwy. 290. Riders will make a right hand turn onto Roger Hanks parkway where the beauty of Hays County begins.   After winding around the rivers and streams of the Texas countryside (hopefully you’ll see a Texas longhorn and a white tailed deer or two but nothing more sinister), you will continue in the direction of the quaint town of Wimberley before turning on River Road and beginning your ride alongside the Blanco River. Here the course becomes more rural (rural’s not a good word, it conjures up pictures of uneven tracks rather than smooth tarmac) as you make the journey towards the town of Blanco where a well deserved Power Stop (this is presumably where I get my batteries re-charged) will be waiting. From Blanco, you will head home (I think not) where an amazing (I’ll be the judge of that) post event party will be ready for your arrival. I suspect by the time I get there the party may well be over or, at least, running out of steam. The total climbing elevation for the 90 mile (145km) course is 2,782 feet (a bit, but not much, more than Col de Vence).

Due to the varying difficulty of the LIVESTRONG Challenge courses and in an effort maintain a high safety standard, the LIVESTRONG Challenge Ride support (Mechanical, Medical and Course Signage) will end 8 hours after starting (4:00pm ). If you are still on course after 7.5 hours (possibly) and on pace to not finish in 8 hours (hopefully, not), you will be politely asked by our staff to allow a SAG vehicle (aka the Broom Wagon) take you to a safe location near the finish line. Here, you will be allowed to ride through the finish and enjoy the post event party activities.

They also helpfully include a few tips on bicycle safety which, naturally for such a litigious nation, include the bxxxxxxg obvious; such as:-

1. Crossing Fast-Moving Traffic – There are a few points in the course where you will have to cross fast moving traffic. These intersections will be controlled by Hays County police officers. Please make sure that you use extreme caution when crossing the road and follow instructions given by officers. Why would’t you?

2. Steep Climbs – Every LIVESTRONG Challenge event has at least one ‘good’ climb. Please make sure you read the course descriptions, cue sheets, study the course profile and train appropriately. If possible and when safe, it is a good idea to pre-ride the course to know what you’re up against. Looking at the course profile, I’m not too sure which one’s the steep climb. 

Map and profile
Map and profile


3. Steep Descents – What goes up must come down. With every good climb there is always a fast descent and the Challenge is no exception to this rule. Please be prepared, watch other riders around you and look out for signage and course marshals indicating a steep descent. When descending, it is always a good idea to have your hands on the brakes just in case – when using the brakes, do not press on just one – slowly press on both sides to ensure a safe slow down. Note to self: steer well clear of cyclists who do not know how to use their brakes, presumably they’ll have a big red “L” on their backs.

4. Cattle Guards – Cattle Guards are a staple on Hill Country roads. These are put in place as a barrier for cattle while allowing for motor, pedestrian and bicycle traffic. To ride over a cattle guard safely, take a straight line (or else your wheel will get stuck in the guard and you’ll fall off, probably taking out several other riders and getting sued for dangerous cycling) and do not pedal. Some cattle guards are very smooth and some are rough. If you have any doubts, please do not hesitate to get off your bike and walk across, but watch your step–your bike cleat can (will) get stuck in the metal grates. Pay special attention to course signage indicating a cattle guard.

5. Low Water Crossings – You will encounter a series of low (how low?) water crossings during your journey through the Hill Country. Depending on the amount of rain, they have the potential to be moist and slick. Our course team will monitor the crossings during the weeks leading up to the event. Please pay close attention to course signage and volunteers when approaching the low water crossings. Do not hesitate to walk across if you are not confident riding.

I will not be twittering while riding but I’m pretty sure Lance will. The Fat Cyclist is bound to have a race summary, with photos, up on his site well before I get back to France, so if you can’t wait, you know what to do and where to go………………