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Thread: Real Ale Ride

  1. #1
    Clipless faller rainycamp's Avatar
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    Real Ale Ride

    My wife and I have both signed up for the Real Ale Ride in Blanco, TX next weekend. I was wondering if any of you have done it in the past, and can give me an idea of how hilly (difficult) it is compared to other Hill Country rides.
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    atop a blazing saddle idig's Avatar
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    Great question. I'd like to know as well. My wife and I have also signed up, and are tentatively planning on the 65-miler. The website for the ride does have profiles you can view, but I haven't used profiles enough to relate them to reality.
    Last edited by idig; 05-26-08 at 11:07 AM.

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    Now 100% Mullet Free! Ironic Mullet's Avatar
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    I've done the 45-50 mile route twice when it was the Sweatin' Burnt Orange ride put on by the UT bike club.

    The elevation recorded is less than I get over a similar distance on the dam loop, but I also ride through Barton Creek most of the time. There are three steepish climbs and the rest is pretty manageable. idig, if you did the ACA Armadillo without any trouble you should be in good shape.

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    atop a blazing saddle idig's Avatar
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    Thanks, Ironic Mullet.

    We did the 50 at the Armadillo, and were fine. A week later, we rode 40 miles of the Tour de Forts, and the hills wore on us. We were considering the 65 at the Real Ale, but another forum I found while looking for info suggests that the 50 mile route is the best of this ride. Of course I don't know what that means. It could mean most hilly, least hilly, least traffic, smoothest roads, coolest scenery, best rest stop food, or whatever. I thought it would be cool to ride through Luckenbach, but if the 50 miler is a superior ride, then I can forgo a bit of Texana mystique. I may have to join that other site to ask what the poster meant.

  5. #5
    It's true, man.
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    All's I know is if you find yourself South of Blanco on Crabapple Road, you'd best nut up for a climb or 10.

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    Dang, I totally forget about this ride. I live 8 miles from Blanco and train on many of the roads that are being used. We do the 50 mile route fairly often (actually our loop is about 45 miles) - except we turn around at 3351 and come back up Edge Falls Road. The 60 mile route does have a fair amount of up and downs on 473 with a few challenging hills. Crabapple headed north has this one doozy of a hill, not very big, but pretty steep. Best part is the downhill on the other side is really fun.

    I hope those that did the rides today had a great ride. Let us know how things went. I will plan on doing this ride next year. Oh and the Blanco Brewery Beers are yummy!

  7. #7
    Clipless faller rainycamp's Avatar
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    Ride was hot, hillier than I'd bargained for. My rear tire exploded while coming down one of those steep fast downhills mentioned in the post above. Tire was shredded, and I had to sag in. Completed about 38 miles.

    My wife completed her 30-mile ride, but was fried.

    There were complaints about traffic management at the start of the ride. Cars with bikes had to enter on the same road that we would all be leaving on at the start. In addition, it cost $5 to park near the starting area, otherwise you had to park at the high school, more than a mile away. The ride attracted over 1300 cyclists--quite a lot more than the organizers had expected.


    One of the tougher hills on the course. I flatted on the downside of this one.
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    Rainycamp, sorry to hear bout the tire. That always is a bummer. It was very hot on Saturday. I recognize that hill, Is that CrabApple Road headed north? If it is, that hill really makes me suck wind. But the bonus is the down hill on the otherside unless of course, a flat happens. I think about that everytime I go down that hill. My wife likes to put the brakes on going down it and asks me "What happens if u get a flat going down so fast?". My reply is "Most likely I am going to wreck". Sounds like you did not crash (a very good thing).

    The parking thing is not good I hope that they can figure out a better way next year.

    Heck, we were headed down 3351 around 12:30 pm, we saw riders headed back from the 45-50 mile route.

    Good turnout though. I did not think there would be that many for this ride.

    How was the after party and BBQ - Did you hang out for that part?

    I am gonna do the Edge Falls part Sunday am, hopefully I can get up and go before it gets too hot.

  9. #9
    Clipless faller rainycamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByMark View Post
    I recognize that hill, Is that CrabApple Road headed north?

    How was the after party and BBQ - Did you hang out for that part?
    Yes, that's the hill. I joined the 80% of riders who walked their bikes up it. When I flatted on the backside of the hill, I was surprised how stable the bike remained--never a waver. If it had been the front tire that had gone...well, I don't want to think about it.

    We were parked some distance from the barbecue, and the line appeared to be long. My wife didn't want to walk there because she was too worn out from the ride, so we just left and stopped for lunch in Dripping Springs.

    If I come back next year, I'll be ready for the terrain. I really enjoy riding through that countryside.
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    Now 100% Mullet Free! Ironic Mullet's Avatar
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    I had a really enjoyable 50 mile ride, but my lack of training really showed. Several of the long climbs had me cramping up, despite trying to supplement with everything I could, including drinking two bottles of the pickle juice.

    I parked very early and avoided the worst part of the snafu at the entrance, but despite arriving at 2pm the BBQ line was still too long to be worth waiting for. I did at least get my beers.

  11. #11
    Senior Member 2wheelchef's Avatar
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    rainycamp, I liked your blog, so I had give you my take.
    The Real Ale Ride, being my first organized group ride I can’t comment on whether the organizers did anything other than what seemed a rather hard job. Seems there sure were more folks than they expected and a fairly good number including myself missed on line registration and showed up to an overwhelmed group of volunteers. There was one announcement early that they were extending registration due to traffic on 281. I think the 1300 figure (from the bib numbers) might be a bit off, more than a few simply parked on the hwy not able to get in to packet pick up or to register and joined in on 281, there was no use fighting the mass of riders heading out at the start.
    Being a newbie (this is my 3rd season) was a bit of a blessing. I live in the area and ride those same chip seal roads and cattle crossings but when I did that first hill I didn’t know enough to fear what lay ahead. The middle of the ride was easier and I soon caught the main group (more thanks to rest stops and rolling hills than my riding) and most of the 2 hours or so through the countryside were quite enjoyable. The rest stops were well stocked and I got my first taste of pickle juice, dam ugly stuff, I was told it would “keep the cramps away when you get to the hill”. First I heard of “it”, on the way out there was that one hill just before the first rest, I should’ve known we’d be back that way eventually. And then there was the bridge, I’ll never get used to being so close to a very long drop, those low guard rails would do little to stop a rider from going over, I rode right down the middle stripe, I’d rather be hit from behind than fall 100 feet, land on my back in a river with my bike on top of me, sounds like a Wile E Coyote moment.
    The last hour and “the hill”, that was not so much fun. I look back at it and I’m rather proud I did crank it all the way to the top but that pickle juice didn’t do its job. I have a triple and that same stupid pride that had me climb that hill wont let me use the granny most days, but I did this day. I got down to my easiest combo stood and prepared for the assault when about half way up my quads started doing the houchie couchi. Dam pickle juice didn’t work and now it (the juice) is preparing to find it’s way back up from down below, my lungs are sucking wind and I look up to see that line of folks walking the hill. Well needless to say there I was half way up trying to figure out if I could get out of my peddles and walk the rest with out falling or if I would fall anyways when all my forward momentum stops. I sat down and started to repeat push-pull, push-pull, I look up and there’s this guy at the top in a red jersey with “Safety” across it. Now I couldn’t fall right there not with all the others around because then this guy would be leaning over me asking me through the haze and tears of pain “you OK”. Dam I had to get to the top and then just in the nick of time, because 1 more minute and there would be a pickle juice slick everywhere. Maybe I should have walked? Over the top was fun, I guess I was too delirious to think of a flat at that speed but it was a rush. The last bit was mostly flat and I pulled in at just over 3 hours for my first 50 and at 50 yrs old, I’ll take that.
    At the finish my wife waiting, she doesn’t ride so she was ready with water, encouragement and a place in the food line. I think the BBQ was good but to tell the truth I was still queasy from the pickle juice and the heat. But it seemed to me that those that stayed, we left around 2:30, all had a great time. My wife met some other waiting friends of riders who came in well before me and we all had a good laugh about the hill and the pickle juice. There was beer, music, food and friends who could ask for more.

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    2WheelChef - Enjoyed reading your review.

    Pickle juice I guess is suppose to replenish the salts in the body?

    I remember drinking it once a beach volleyball tournament many years ago, it was a very hot day and I was dehydrated and starting to cramp up. Not too yummy! I cannot remember if it really helped the situation but I remember drinking it!

    Next time when I ride up the Crab hill I will think of Pickle Juice. LOL.

    Sounds like the BBQ lines were quite long, I too probably would have just left and ate somewhere else.

  13. #13
    Clipless faller rainycamp's Avatar
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    I had a bottle of pickle juice at the Armadillo, because, well, it's one of those things you just have to try. The trouble with it is, it tastes like pickle juice. I didn't have the problem of it coming back up like so many others seemed to have, but I think I'll stick with sports drinks from here on out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainycamp View Post
    I had a bottle of pickle juice at the Armadillo, because, well, it's one of those things you just have to try. The trouble with it is, it tastes like pickle juice. I didn't have the problem of it coming back up like so many others seemed to have, but I think I'll stick with sports drinks from here on out.
    +1, agree.

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    atop a blazing saddle idig's Avatar
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    We opted for the 50 instead of the 65, then had to cut that short to 30 when my sister-in-law had some tire issues. I didn't have to walk up any of the climbs, but I have generous gearing on my LHT. Those chip seal surfaces are brutal, but as this was my 4th charity ride of the year, I'm somewhat accustomed to them (they all seem to have these). The heat became a bit of an issue as morning turned into afternoon. I know they moved this ride from April to May to avoid last year's weather issues, but I wish they had sent the first group at 7:30 instead of 8:30. I saw one person that had wrecked at the bottom of the first big decent. She apparently was unable negotiate the sharp turn.

    We registered early, but because there was no early packet pickup in San Antonio, we missed out on goody bags. They were also out of my t-shirt size. We'll see if they mail one as promised. The long line for food was annoying, but not unbearable. The beer, frozen yogurt, and tea lines were generally short. The food itself was decent, though places to sit and eat were scarce. We'll probably do it again next year, but I hope they improve a bit with some of the logistics. That said, I have certainly been on worse organized rides.

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    While I thoroughly enjoyed the route...I rode the "80" mile lap and thought the roads were great (decent pavement conditions, little vehicular traffic), the scenery of such route was great, and the hills presented a decent challenge...I do have some suggestions for future Real Ale Rides:

    a) have the start/finish area down by the river...i.e. at the park area by the dam just south (i think is the direction) of downtown Blanco. There is infinitely more and better shaded areas there. While I certainly appreciate Real Ale's opening up their grounds and facilities for such an event, having the start and finish area, particularly the finish (when it's 90+ degrees and dry), in a stagnant dustbowl = not so much fun.

    b) no way on Earth should a start/finish line ever be on a glorified one-lane driveway, especially when there's vehicular traffic using the same driveway for ingress and egress of said facilities. Whether vehicular traffic SHOULD HAVE been using said driveway, I don't know...but I certainly didn't see any policing of such upon my finishing the ride wherein I (the bicyclist) had to yield way to a maroon Ford conversion van and two SUVs that were leaving via the front driveway because, after all, I forgot about that innate rule of the world that vehicular traffic ALWAYS has the right of way...even at a bicycling event.

    c) for those that have never ridden a group ride before or are of limited group riding experience, whether it's a race or a free ride, please realize the event isn't "won" nor nearly finished by riding the first several miles like you're finishing a Tour stage. In the first 50 yards on said driveway, I had numerous individuals whizzing by me with reckless abandon. While riding the initial few miles (until we crossed the river on that bridge just south of town) with the lead-out front pack of the 80 milers, I witnessed multiple run-ins - before we got to downtown or just as we got to downtown (read: ~1-1.5 mile into the ride) two individuals banged into each other and I'm pretty sure I heard a few spokes bite it, I saw two guys wearing Beef & Pie jerseys d*mn near run over a girl shortly after we got through downtown, etc.


    I realize this was the "first" Real Ale Ride, although the second year for such. That said, learn from it and move on. I think the route (at least the 80 miler...can't speak for the other distances) is great, as always I was and am indebted to all the volunteers (at the water/calorie stations, directing the riders, providing support, etc.), and I want to thank those who put this event together.

    For those that thought the hills in Blanco were fun and want to step it up, show up for the das Hugel ride in Austin in November.
    Last edited by zcd1976; 06-03-08 at 04:32 PM.

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