Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beginners Page # 10 Lessons Learned or All You Wanted to Know But Couldn’t Find Anywhere or Even Here

I had decided prior to writing this, that it was going to be a rambling, incoherent, hodgepodge of non sequitur topics making the reader marvel over the words and say “Huh”? “Wow,” “What did he say?” If you think this feat is difficult—keep reading.

One of the first lessons I learned in my very first riding season: don’t breath through your mouth no matter how deprived of oxygen you are.

Little and big things fly through the air and even though there are 267,000 square miles in Texas—plenty of room for a gnat, fly, bug, bee, wasp, horsefly, chigger, or a grasshopper—to find some other place to fly—open your mouth and in one goes.
Ooops. The chigger reference, pull off to the side of the road next to a gate or mailbox or turn-around, NOT in the grass. Chiggers may not jump in your mouth but they sure can crawl or hop all over the body. But anyway, as I said, I learned the first season not to breathe through the mouth. I learned it in the second season. I learned it in the third season where I am now. I will have to confess, the wasp, bee, and grasshopper mostly aim for the helmet, but there is not anything one can do about that other than wear a helmet bootie which is self defeating. I choose to have a cool head rather than be a hot head.

But a hot face may be of assistance. If we could design a face guard similar to the motorcycle helmets, it could save some hurtful incidents. Christine was riding along one time minding her own business when something hit her on the sunglass lens, slid down it, and stung her on the cheek. And momentarily back to the open mouth: I have ridden enough with Chuck White to know that he doesn’t ride with his tongue hanging out. So it had to be breathing through the mouth when something came by and stung him right on the tongue. That hurts me just to write about it much less get stung by things that fly through the air. Maybe helmet booties and face guards are not kooky ideas after all.

Generally it is the small, crunchy bug that lands in your mouth. And, generally you can hack and cough and get the sucker out. But, one of the last times I had gotten a bug in my mouth, my throat was dry, and I think a gnat flew in. I hacked, coughed, tried all the usual tactics, and it wouldn’t dislodge. A person riding along asked if I was all right. No, bug in throat. I stopped and so did Christy Compeau. I grabbed for my water bottle and—it wasn’t there. How can you leave without a water bottle? Same way you get a gnat in your mouth—not thinking. Christy came to the rescue and gave me her water bottle; I gargled twice to rid myself of the embarrassing malady.

There is one more caution about breathing through the mouth. Never, never breathe through the mouth when it is raining and you are riding behind someone. The drink you get is not nutritional. (See Tour de Rooster Tail)

Bite down the correct way on Camelbak bite valve.If you aren’t paying attention to the way the valve is turned, when you bite down on it, nothing happens. Panic time. Obviously you are thirsty or you wouldn’t have put the tube in your mouth in the first place. When this happened I knew the bladder wasn’t empty as it was my first time to drink. I was not sure how to clear the tube if it was stopped up. After two or three tries, I looked at the nipple and sure enough, it was turned wrong. Lesson learned: Take a swallow before you take off on a ride to adjust your equipment.

Riding etiquette: it is OK to ride behind someone, and it is OK to ride along aside someone. Never, never pass someone going at a faster pace than the passee. That is an instant challenge and the race is on. I noticed this phenomenon my first season. If someone was out for a leisurely ride and I happened to be going downhill—and pedaling—and passed someone, suddenly that person would whiz by me and go on down the road. Leisurely ride over until he/she is out of sight. I noticed this on tours also, especially if I passed a person younger than I, and almost everyone is younger than I. (Generally that was only because they would be riding a mountain bike on a road tour and we would be going up a hill) I remember a young kid (20’s) who was on a mountain bike, and I passed him on a hill. Suddenly he came around me standing and pumping until he got past me. As soon as he would sit down, I would pass him again. Up out of the saddle he came. I thought it was funny, so I played the little game with him thinking I would eventually tire him out. He never seemed to tire of the “game,” so on a downhill I pedaled like mad and never saw him again. So don’t pass anyone unless you are willing to pay the price, or just don’t pay attention to the person passing you and slinging sweat on you (hope it is sweat) as he passes.

Next is a serious topic. But first, if big font is a shout, then small font is a whisper. Some of this I will have to whisper, as we don’t talk about it in polite society or around children—how to avoid chaffing or butt sores. We experienced rawness and assumed that we would just have to ride long enough to build calluses or tough skin or get bike shorts with chamois thicker than the 13 mil. But, as luck would have it, on one of our early on tours, the goody bag contained small samples of Chamois Butt’r. But, we didn’t immediately pay attention to the Butt’r until Christine was talking about “soft tissue” problems with Robyn Lomax. Robyn recommended using butt butter as that is what experienced riders do. We rummaged through our goody bag storage basket and dug out the samples. On our next long ride (20 miles was long at that time), we used the butt butter and it worked like a charm. We buy the 8 ounce size now.

Interestingly enough I applied some butt butter and my chaffing was over. Later, I watched a Tour de France DVD and a guy seemingly applied at least 4 ounces over the rider’s entire chamois. It was on so thickly that I was afraid he would slide right out of his biking shorts on the ride. (Maybe that is why they wear the bib shorts). I became curious so I finally read the directions on the Chamois Butt’r container. I will copy it here so everyone will be totally informed on trivia: Directions: Apply liberally to skin and chamois/shorts before each ride and to chamois after washing. (I didn’t know that! Seems it would collect dust in the crouch even if you hang your shorts in a closet—oh well). Apply to any skin areas that rub together or against shorts, shoes, bras, athletic supporters, or protective cups. Apply as a conditioner to skin exposed to moisture. (I confess that I hadn’t read the whole spiel until copying it just now. If they hadn’t listed so many uses to consume their product, the last sentence would be the clincher. When I ride during the summer months, my whole skin from head to foot is exposed to moisture.) I will close out this topic with a caution so that all of us do not experience a painful lesson learned—don’t apply Chamois Butt’r to your gloves. Nuff said.

Wear deodorant. I don’t know if David Durbin will remember this incident, but it is true. Background (OK, OK, Chris, I will make this short): when I first started riding, David would hang back with me and let me draft off him so I could finish a ride such as the Loop Group before sundown. One day we were on a local tour and surprise, surprise, the wind was terrible. As we were going up FM 2288 (I think it was a Biscuits and Gravy tour), a rider who said he was from out of town (if he were local I wouldn’t write this) fell in line with us, and we all took turns leading into the wind. Now, you know how hard it is sometimes to find the exact draft spot? Well, when riding behind the out of towner you knew exactly that you were in the slip stream when your nose hairs started to singe and your upper lip tried to block your nostrils.
PLEASE, I don’t care if you drove all night or had to sleep in your car before a ride, take a little kit with you with a stick of deodorant, maybe some cologne. So I won’t be accused of being a sexist, maybe use some perfume.

Christine (my editor and critic) always gets after me if a particular article gets too long. She may get sleepy or has a short attention span, or my topics are boring to her. We get into many debates when she wants to shorten (she calls it editing) my pages to make them a little more clear and precise. Now if you are reading this, I will have won this debate. But in deference to Chris I will just start shortening my Lessons Learned. It has dawned on me that I have written about most of my lessons in some other article. So forget the rambling, incoherent, hodgepodge of non sequitur topics.

Lesson learned: Ask questions, don’t buy equipment and assume you will know how to use it (see Beginners Page 1 Airing the Tires).I know, if you read Beginners Page 1, you know what Chris goes through to get me to the point of a story.

Lesson learned: If you ride, you will fall. (See Beginners Page 2: Pedals and Things for an example or the inevitable). Added, also see Beginners Page 9 ½: Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

Lesson learned: Don’t be shy or bashful about your attire—we all look the same. (See Beginners Page 3: Style, Spandex, Helmets and Stuff).

Lesson learned: We will never find a comfortable saddle, so sit back and enjoy.

(See Beginners Page 4: Bicycle Seats and the Quest for Comfort).

Lesson learned: Ask more questions, swallow your pride and learn. (See Beginners Page 5 Fixing a Flat).

Of interest, to me, I was surfing on the net one day and came across a webpage that referenced my article about how to fix a flat. The author prefaced my article with “a little long”—I don’t think he really read it as it implied that after you read the article, you will know how to fix a flat. To prove otherwise, I refer you to "Tour de Rooster Tail" or "just ask Liz Rappe."

Lesson learned: Don’t spit into the wind or take yourself seriously, and if all else fails, reframe the situation into, “At least I am participating in this sport instead of watching cartoons.” (See Beginners Page 6 First Time Trial)

Lesson I would like to learn: I would like to know if anyone can beat my record of going up what I call Stonewall Hill at 2.9 mph and not falling over.(For example--See Beginners Page 7: How to Climb a Hill Without Rolling Backwards).

Lesson learned: Check equipment and bike before a ride or Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. (See Beginners Page 8 for clarity).

Lesson learned: If anyone reads just one of the lessons learned, it has got to be the one that warns husbands to keep a tight rein on their spouses or watch out!(See Beginners Page 9 Intro Into Mountain Biking).

Lesson learned: Try to think as you are riding even if you are talking. Case in point: Beginners Page 9½, Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

Lesson learned: Don’t be a hero, drink plenty of fluids. Replace your bodies’ electrolytes as you go along either by your drink, your snacks, or tablets.
If you don’t, see Beginners Page 9¾, How to Get Muscle Cramps blah blah blah.

Lesson learned: That learning never stops if you continue to ride. Case in point: The two more lessons (9 1/2 and 9 3/4) while working on this paper. Let’s keep learning.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beginners Page 9 3/4: How to Get Muscle Cramps While Having a Good Time Riding With Friends

With Beginners Page 9 ½ I mentioned it was so labeled because I had almost completed Beginners Page 10: Lessons Learned, and I thought after learning 10 lessons, I could move on and write about such sophisticated topics as how to determine the correct timing to break from the peloton, pull back the leaders, and then effectively sprint to the finish. And as a touch of panache, how to ride with no hands, pumping the arms in the air in a show of victory—all without falling over in front of the crowd and cameras. But alas, I keep making beginners’ mistakes or learning the obvious which experienced riders take for granted. If I am to continue to wait until I stop making mistakes, stop having maladies, or stop having adventures before I post # 10, I am going to have to renumber and start with 9.1; 9.2; 9.3; ad infinitum.

Joe Btfsplk struck again.

However, the cloud over his head (mine??) slowly built like darkening cumulus clouds. To continue the metaphor the wind picked up, thunder and lighting started, and then the rain and hail burst forth. How does the analogy fit with a story? Please read on. Liz, the famed mountain climber, innocently asked us if we were going to ride Saturday morning. Hey, sounded like a good idea as we needed some distance to prepare for HHH, so let’s get a ride started. An email was sent out concerning a ride and the cumulus clouds darkened. After checking the forecast, the email promised:
Lo 73 hi 95
Wind SSE 12
Zero (0) chance of rain!!

Just as I hit send, I checked the forecast again and suddenly it was saying 30% chance of thunderstorms. The brave souls who did show up were Rangarao Chilukuri, Christy Compeau, David Durbin, Sarah Fly, Lucy Jochum, Christine Jones, Roy Jones, Rick Ogan, Velma Ogan, Jim Raymond, Liz Rappe, Mark Seals, Brenda White, and Chuck White.

The route was to be: the beach, Knickerbocker, Christoval (convenience store turn-around), north on 277, Knickerbocker Road., back to the beach. Things were fine until we started. We learned later that the wind was S 18 with exciting gusts. The wind did not seem to bother some such as David, Mark, Sarah, Brenda, Christy, Rick, Velma, Jim and others, but I noticed it.

We had specific locations to stop and re-group. First Re-Group Stop
After the first tough hill on the road to Knickerbocker some kind person stopped and let some others and me catch up.The little speck of a vehicle is the top of the first hill.

After regaining our wind—speaking for myself--we were about to leave when we saw two lone riders off in the distance. We didn’t think it was any of our group but maybe they would like to join us and draft. Well, it turned out to be Anke White and Kathy Walker. Draft off us? Vice versa if we could stay up with them, but after a few minutes of chat, off they sped.
The reward for enduring the first hill.

The town of Knickerbocker was our feed zone.

If any racers had visions of feed zone chicks passing energy foods and liquids to us as we zoomed by—wrong. Our idea of feed zone is stop, eat, and rest. Jim departed for a separate route and Lucy returned to the beach. I thought, “Smart,” since I have been this route before and we would continue to be in a headwind.

As most cyclists know, after leaving Knickerbocker, the drama is the Seven Sisters, i.e., the thunder and lightening in the analogy.
Some of the Sisters--Maybe not real tough, they just wear you down.

Some of us “dropped off the back” but rode in a group, so I like to think of us as the second peloton. The pulled back leaders and first peloton were patiently waiting for us at the intersection of FM 2335 and Highway 277 outside of Christoval. I had been taking heat from David and others about the original forecast of SSE 12 being so wrong. Therefore, I was chosen to lead the group up the hill, in the wind, and at a reasonable speed as a reminder to be more accurate in the forecasts. I accomplished the first two tasks reasonably well but failed miserably at a reasonable speed. Within the first quarter mile, Rick pulled in front of me and told me to draft off him for a while. I did. And I didn’t want to give up the position. Soon he pulled off to the side indicating that I was to lead again. The group would have none of that as they were in a hurry to get to the convenience store, so one by one they passed me without even a “good lead.” Several had such pleasantries as, “See you at the store.”

As it turns out Lucy had returned to the beach to get her car and preceded us to the Christoval stop and was to be SAG should any one wish/want/need. Turns out to have been an excellent idea. Early in the ride David had discussed a once a month group ride and for different people to take turns being SAG. The rides could be from 50-70 miles and the SAG would have water, bananas, and other conveniences making it an enjoyable ride. Sounded like a good idea and one to be further coordinated. But on this ride, the SAG was to be Lucy, and Dr. Chilukuri chose to join her on the return. Once again he had done a great job after just getting his bike in July.

Highlight (for me) of the ride.

Stomachs full and semi-rested, the joy ride started. The wind that others and I did not previously appreciate was now at our backs and 277 is a comparative decline to San Angelo. It was fun for a while and I even hit 29.6 at one point. Somewhere thereafter I was slowing down; every one started passing me again, and if I were smarter, that would have given me clue one that all was not right. How can you bonk going downhill with the wind?

Thank goodness (for me) Mark had a flat tire just before the Airport turnoff. It gave me an excuse to stop. I was dizzy and not feeling chipper. Chris (my wife) asked me accusingly how much I had had to drink. I lied to her and I said two bottles (really it was 1 ½ but that would not have pleased her). She looked at me and said my lips were blue and took my pulse: 104 after a long stretch in the ride. Too low to get oxygen into my blood stream? She poured water over my head, arms, and legs, and I felt better by the time Mark finished repairing his flat. Another good thing about a SAG; Lucy had her air pump with her and Mark didn’t have to use the small hand pump.

Off we went down the airport road to intersect with Knickerbocker Road. Before we got to the intersection, almost everyone passed me again. Liz pulled beside me and told me to draft off of her. Thanks--I needed that. I mentioned that my left leg was giving me trouble and she said her right knee was hurting. Within 10 pedal strokes, both of my inner thigh muscles knotted and cramped like crazy. This was Joe’s burst of rain and hell, I mean hail. Luckily I was able to unclip before my legs totally froze in big knots. Now I would have been feeling like a wimp right about then except I remembered Anthony Wilson’s writing about a Brady race and Shane’s leg cramping. So if the big boys can cramp, I can too!

Lucy and Doc pulled up behind me and stopped to assist. I couldn’t raise my leg over the bike to get off, so Doc held my bike up and told me to try again. I still couldn’t get my leg over. Eventually, my right leg eased up enough to allow me to dismount. I zombie-walked to Lucy’s car and lifted each leg inside and sat massaging my muscles. Eventually the muscles relaxed enough that the knots went down, and I wasn’t in much pain.

We trailed Liz, who, with hurting knee and about to complete the longest ride of her career, was doing exceptionally well and showed her true colors for sticking it out.

As we were returning, I received helpful hints from Lucy and Rangarao for preventing cramps since I know how, and now you do too, to get cramps. Drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes before, during, and after rides. Lucy drinks pickle juice and a liquid such as Powerade. Take a sports tablet such as Enervit each hour of a ride. Take along energy gel packs (and eat them). I thought I had a good snack at the convenience store: a Twix which has chocolate and fast sugar supply along with a Payday which has a fast sugar supply as well as peanuts which are good for you. A perfect lunch and a bottle of Powerade (of which I drank just a little) to re-stock my one empty bottle.

Upon arrival at the beach, I had recovered enough to do a Charlie Chaplan walk to the truck. One time I had whined about the lack of attention during one of my maladies but when Chris called attention to my blue lips again, suddenly I was surrounded by three nurses (Sarah, Lucy, and Velma) and then my finger tips were checked by a doctor!! It was pronounced that I would live and all concern faded, but I had my moment of attention so all was right with the world.

As I was trying to finish this and evaluate if enough information was passed along to really help a beginner, I remembered that way back at the beginning of this piece I said I keep learning the obvious that experienced riders take for granted. That gave me a sudden inspiration. I would like to invite people to use the comment section below and give other beginners and me your tips on how to prevent cramps or how to treat them once you have them. I for one would certainly appreciate it. In the meantime kids, remember to drink your Ovaltine.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beginners Page 9 1/2: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

This is Beginners Page 9 ½. I had just about completed writing Beginners Page 10: Lessons Learned, when another lesson was learned. And as usual, the hard way.

Some time back we started riding the loop at the State Park on Wednesdays. There are some good hills and one tough hill called Pulliam or Wink Hill. One Wednesday, Liz Rappe joined us, and she had just started riding this year.

On the warm up part of the ride she did fine, and as we started on the hilly section she still did great. I was concerned that the tough hill might take her by surprise, so I hung back and was going to give her instructions on how to successfully climb the hill. (After all, I had written a piece about climbing hills so that made me an expert.)

As we sped down the last decline before the climb, I pointed out a specific place down the road and told her to shift into her small chain ring by that point and to be ready to pedal hard. I was by her side and was telling her as we approached the steep incline to think on each down stroke that she might have to unclip. I should have known better; I know I can’t talk and think at the same time. Just as I gave my last “instruction,” my bike stopped in mid-stroke. I only had time to yell out, “I forgot to shift!” I was in my big chain ring, and no way can I go up the hill at that gear.

I started to fall over. It must have been in slow motion because I kept watching to see if Liz was going to make it. As I was listing about 45 degrees, Liz was breezing up the hill. As I hit the ground, Liz was cresting the hill, and did it easily.
The picture my editor wanted me to use

The view I really saw

And I? On the ground hurting.

It was time to assess my damage. My left middle finger was cut and bleeding, my left knee was skinned and bleeding, and my right leg was bleeding where the chain ring dug into my leg. (For anyone who knows me well, no I didn’t faint). I carry a bandana to use as a sweat rag or as a tourniquet should the need arise in emergencies. I declared it an emergency and rapped the tourniquet around my finger to stop the bleeding.

It was time to get on up the hill and join the rest of the group and I wanted to do it quickly before they came back to see what happened and see me in my pitiful state. I straddled my bike and started pushing off but as I would put my foot on the pedal, nothing would happen, and I would start to roll back. I think Rick had told me one time that Pulliam Hill becomes a 9% grade at the top, and I had already talked one time about how scary it was to roll backwards on a hill, so I wanted no more of that. I looked down and my chain was off the rings. There must be a lesson in that—chain must be on ring to move. Either as I was falling I tried to shift, or when my handle bar hit the ground it tried to shift, anyway, my chain was popped.

I put the chain back on, but now my hands were greasy, and I had to use my tourniquet as a grease rag. After cleaning my hands, I wrapped my finger again with the now greasy rag and said to heck with it, I will just walk up the hill. (No one had come back to see what happened, so I could still manufacture my own story) But, after a few yards, my pride and ego kicked in and I tried again to mount the bike. This time I was able to start pedaling and finally made it up the hill.

As I limped into the turn around area, I did not get the “poor baby” nor “shall we call 911” that I thought I deserved. However, Christine did have some band aids in her saddle bag so she bandaged my boo boos. David noticed my bent left shifter knob and straightened it out. So I got some attention, and as soon as my bleeding abated, off we went toward the next adventure.

The “trainee” did an outstanding job; the “instructor” did every thing wrong that he was warning the other person about. Do as I say, not ever, ever as I do.

Listening to all my hard luck stories, Brenda White once compared me to Joe Btfsplk. Joe was a friend of Li’l Abner and was the worst jinx who always traveled with a dark cloud over his head.

Who was Li’l Abner? Ask your Mom or Dad. If you are really young, ask your Grandma or Grandpa.

P.S. I was busted. Turned out the event director of Biscuits and Gravy DID know about this site. She very nicely pointed out that the arrows directing riders onto the frontage road were for our safety. So I encourage all next year to follow the arrows. Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Melon Patch Tour

Saturday August 8, 2009
De Leon, Texas

The Melon Patch Tour instantly became a favorite ride way back in 2007 when we first started riding, and it just keeps getting better and better. Melon Patch Tour is part of the annual De Leon Melon and Peach Festival held the second weekend of August. This year marked the 16th Annual Tour and is among the best in the tour circuit. It has a well deserved reputation of being the best fed bike ride in Texas, and it is well attended by riders from San Angelo. But first:

De Leon is about 144 miles from San Angelo so a Friday night stay is almost a necessity as the ride starts at 8 a.m. (except for hard core riders like Christy Compeau and Sarah Fly who left San Angelo Sat. morning at 4:00 a.m.)

Melon Patch has rides of 8-18-29-42 and 71 miles. The terrain is mostly rolling hills and “fake flats” (looks flat but you are really slightly going uphill or downhill). There are no killer hills--at least on the 42 miles and below routes. I understand this is also true for the 71 but can’t verify this from experience. Some 432 bikers lined up for the event and it was to be staggered starts but as the fog horn blasted for the 71 milers, we on the side lines waiting for the 42 mile start saw Lucy fly past.

This year had a good turn out from San Angelo. The cast of characters included Rangarao Chilukuri, Christy Compeau, Elaine Cox, Sarah Fly, Lucy Jochum, Christine Jones, Roy Jones, Brenda White, and Chuck White.Elaine, Christy, Sarah, Brenda, Chuck, Lucy, Christine, Rangarao, Roy

Rangarao, Elaine, Lucy, Brenda, Chuck, plus the Joneses were to meet in De Leon and eat dinner. Rangarao, Elaine, and Lucy were running late and told us to go ahead and eat. So the four of us went to the Highway 6 CafĂ© and it turned out to have a very good buffet featuring sirloin steak, catfish, popcorn shrimp, ribs, crab legs and something else but my plate could just hold so much. Sated, we started to leave De Leon to go back to our Comanche Motel when we got a call from Lucy that they were at the registration place so we turned around and met them there. We learned that Christy and Sarah planned on leaving early Saturday morning to attend the ride. Last time I had talked to Christy about going she was moaning that she didn’t want to get up that early to make it by 8 a.m. Well, Christy and Sarah, we were happy you made it. I, being as full as a sated tick, didn’t trust myself to go eat with Lucy et al. as I knew I would at least have another dessert with them, so we parted and went our ways.
Riders lining up

Early Saturday morning we all met and lined up to have a group start (except for Lucy). The start pace was pretty healthy and at a fast clip. As we were coming in from Comanche we had noticed three porta potties six miles out of town at an intersection and figured that was to be the first rest stop. Six miles is very considerate for the 18 milers, but for Biscuit and Gravy veterans, your muscles are just beginning to get warmed up. So, I started talking to the back riders if we wanted to just skip the first stop. It was agreed to skip it, so on a long hill, I started climbing up to the next one in our party and relayed the decision. When I pulled up beside Chuck, I told him we had voted to by-pass the first stop, and he looked at me with daggers and said, “We did?” I hurriedly left him and went to the next person but told her in a more diplomatic way to keep going.

Rest stop number one that we all passed up-----except Lucy.

The scenery gets an A from start to finish.Of course I am speaking about the country side. Christine is always getting on to me about taking photos from behind, but if I am not in the lead, what shot can I take?

Now comes the good part and the theme of this year’s ride. Food, eating, food, eating--. Rest stop two had Blue Bell ice cream cups as well as other goodies. Every rest stop had home-made cookies, peanuts, fresh fruit, dill pickles, peanut butter on crackers, pickles and pickle juice, as well as water and sports drinks. But ice cream!!

Rest Stop Two

One more important amenity of each rest stop!!!

First stop and I am spoiled. I have to add one boring detail because it was a bike ride, I think we were at about mile 14, and my odometer had 16.8 mph average, and I was not the first one in. Works up a good appetite.

On toward the next rest stop.

I looked at the odometer at about mile 22 and thought “Oh no, the ride is half over”. The ride was laid back and pleasant on really nice roads. Christy lead most of the ride followed closely by Brenda. Christy was very conscious of the pace line especially in the wind and would keep looking back to see if we were OK. As nice as Christy is, she deflated my ego on one climb. I started tiring and dropping back, later when I caught back up I told her I got tired, and then noticed I was in my large chain ring, and that was why I dropped back. She looked over to me and said "I have never been in my small chain ring." What!? And she just finished the ride across Iowa and she was the biker on the winning co-ed GAFB Triathlon and has never riden in her small chain ring. Ugh.

Rest stop three I pigged out on frozen peaches slices.

I must explain the lack of a lot of scenery shots and apologize for so few. The camera I was using this time must have a delayed shutter or something. My "technique" is to hold up the camera to take a shot of something, and then bring my hand back to the handle bar. Well, here is a list of my "out takes:
Shots of the pavement: 10
Shots of my front tire: 6
Shots of the sky: 3
Shots of the ground: 3
Shots of my arm: 2
Shots of someone's tire: 1

And on to the next rest stop.

Rest stop four. Since last year I had been looking forward to rest stop four as they had the coconut and strawberry popsicles. By the time we got there, they were out and I had to settle for a lime popsicle. Oh the shame of it all. Only a lime popsicle.

Lucy, I am adding these to document that you purposefully tried to run over my foot.

On toward the next rest stop. By rest stop five, I was beginning to get full, so I settled for some peanut butter on crackers, a pickle, and was about to stop when Christy said, “These cookies are really good”. Home-made chocolate chip cookies. Never too full for one (or more) of those.

I would like to point out that "Chili" got his bike in July and this is already his second organized tour ride.

All good things must come to an end.

At the finish line there were more food, drinks, all the sliced watermelon you wanted, liquids, and showers with towels.

I didn’t finish all of my watermelon. For some reason I handed Chris my paper plate and when I went to retrieve it, she was spitting watermelon seeds onto my slice of melon.

While I whined, she said she thought I was through and that I could have more. No, it was time to go to the spaghetti dinner as an after ride treat. And they had great dessert and plenty of ice tea.

The ride was in conjunction with the Melon and Peach Festival, so there was entertainment downtown and a carnival midway at the fairgrounds. The big crowd draw was the tractor pull event. Now I have never been to a tractor pull as last year Chris would not go with me, but I did get to hear the roar of the engines pulling heavy loads up an incline until they stalled out. Bring ear plugs if you ever attend. Later I will bring up this topic again.
The ride may have been over but not the trip. At rest stop number four in Gorman, some of the ladies were telling Chris that raw peanuts were available at a store just up the road. (We were hoping to win another box of peanuts again this year as a door prize but all we won were two giant water melons). So, after the ride we headed toward Gorman to get some peanuts.

No trip to the De Leon area is complete without going over to Dublin for some original Dr. Pepper, and, as my tradition, get a Dr. Pepper float. Chris opted for a two scoop chocolate ice cream bowl.

The shop was so full of cyclists and other tourists that we were forced to eat and drink out on some benches in front of the store, Even though it is not cool, I still had on my SABA jersey so passers-by would read my jersey and say “You’re from San Angelo”. Yup. One family stopped and said, “You’re from San Angelo, we are from Wall.” I asked if they were there for the bike ride and a boy said, “No, we are here for the tractor pull.” Later a young lady came by and said “You are from San Angelo and here for the bike ride.” Yup. “I am from Lufkin and we have a bike ride called Pineywoods Purgatory and my husband rode in it.” I said that we rode it last year and was registered for it again this year. I asked if her husband was here for the ride. “No, we are here for the tractor pull.” I guess I gotta go next year.