Sunday, August 2, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy

August 2, 2009
San Angelo, Texas

The ride was to start at 7:30 a.m., but the gates were to close at 7:15 a.m. for riders’ safety. I had gotten up even before the sun thought of getting up and was relatively assured that I would get out there early. Nothing to hold me back or slow me up--no excuses. The best laid plans of men or mice... There were a series of “but firsts,” and I started running late.

I have been past the north equestrian entrance jillions of times, but when every thing is going wrong, what is one more thing? I knew that it was a gated turn-off after you pass the south entrance, so at every gated turn-off to the right I would brake and slow down ready to turn. There was a car behind me, and since it would slow down also, I figured the occupant was from out of town and was following me to the start line. However, after two or three gates, the car passed me. I thought I recognized the car; it had a bike attached so I sped up and followed it hoping the driver knew where to go. Upon arrival I was directed to park by that car and out stepped Lucy Jochum. I asked her what gave her the first clue I was lost and she said she didn’t recognize the truck but knew she had to get around that turkey in front of her or we would both be late.

Line up was for a staggered start. I was so harried I lined up toward the back with Lucy, but when she found out I was hoping to go the 62 mile route, she shooed me up toward the front. Eventually I lined up in the right group—at least in theory. I was lined up with the big boys (and girls).

Two of the fast ones. Mike and Christy Nesbitt
How do I know? I was dropped before we got to Grape Creek. Incidentally, the route was changed this year and all four routes (25, 35, 62, and 100 miles) started out following the same route for the first twenty miles. A very nice ride in a wide loop on the other side of Grape Creek.

The loop brought us back up FM 2288 past the Park entrance and for the 35-62-100 routes, up to Arden Road. The 35’ers turned around, and the 62-100 milers continued up Arden Road. The 62 milers turned onto South Burma Road and the 100 milers continued on to Mertzon and looped back to Burma Road. We did what we call the Burma loop, South Burma to North Burma, Highway 87 to Grape Creek, FM 2288 back to the Park. Now, back to being dropped by the big boys: I am used to riding alone a lot (especially on tours) so things were normal. But then a large group passed me and the back person said they were the 35 milers!!! Out of shear pride and stubbornness, I latched on to them. I noticed they were all in their large chain rings so I thought, “Amateurs. They will all tire out soon and I will pass them.” About five miles out of Grape Creek, the “amateurs” dropped me and I was on my own again until FM 2288. I rode a while with Brian Backlund and then later rode with the Christine Buckstead/Dorothy Langdon group.
Dorothy told me that they were going to turn around at Arden and do the 35. My legs were telling me to go 35, but my mind was telling me I came out here to do 62, and I was.

At the Arden rest stop Christy Compeau and her group pulled up, and I tried to get them to go with me on the Burma loop. However, Christy had just the previous week finished the RAGBRAI (Ride across Iowa), and the previous day she was the biker on her Goodfellow Air Force Base Triathlon team, so she was going to turn around. Since I had done neither of those things, I had no excuse not to go on. While deciding my fate--ride with Christy or ride by myself up Arden Road--I checked my odometer and I had averaged 17.1 at that point, and I thought of the MS 150 team’s averaging 17mph for 75 miles two days in a row, and I had no excuses left. Off I went up Arden Rd..

A rest station was located at the Arden/S. Burma junction. I asked if any of the 100 milers had come past yet and the guy said no. I told him that I was the last of the 62 milers. I believed this to a fact because a pick-up truck with its lights on followed me up Arden Road, and that was not the behavior of a rancher.

To South Burma.

To North Burma. Besides the inspiration of the MS team, at mile 20, 30, and 40; all I thought about was the 2+ mile glide down North Burma. At the apex, at 49.5 miles, I stopped to gaze down the hill before the joy ride.

Right after I turned right at the South Carlsbad Loop, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a lone rider coming up. I thought it was the leader of the 100 mile group. As he approached me, he dropped behind me to draft and I was flattered. I figured he just wanted to rest for a while before he made another break away. So I sped up to 20 so he could rest at a “respectable” speed before he continued his journey. We started up an incline and I dropped to 18. He stayed with me. As we continued up the incline, I dropped to 16 and he still stayed behind me. I started getting suspicious that maybe he wasn’t the 100 miler leader after all. On a dangerous corner with gravel on the road I slowed down and the rider came parallel to me. I said I thought he was a 100 miler and he stated that no; he was the last of the 62’ers.

The rider was from Midland and therefore had never ridden the route before, so the experienced San Angeloan led him down Highway 87 rather than that bumpy frontage road. (Don’t worry, the event coordinator doesn’t know about this website so she will not know that some riders didn’t follow the arrows). After turning onto FM 2288 this experienced San Angeloan (are you listening Lucy?) knew that Lucy had led him to the State Park north entrance gate earlier that morning, so we turned in at the sign “North Entrance.” Something didn’t look right and I asked the out-of-towner if we were on the right road. Yup, looked familiar to him. Then we made a right turn and I told him I didn’t remember a right turn and he didn’t either. Then we came upon a gate house and we knew we did a wrong-way Corrigan. It didn’t look like there were any connecting roads to the correct location so we turned around and went back to FM 2288. Sure enough, just as we crossed the North Concho, there was the correct gate. So, instead of 62 miles, we did a 66.68 mile ride. We got our money’s worth!! And I can still hold my head up a little, as I stopped at the truck with a 16 mph average.

The after-ride biscuits and gravy spread was as good as ever.

The rest stops this year (can’t remember the previous years) were outstanding. One of my criteria for an outstanding rest stop is a porta potty waiting for me. (For you youngsters, wait 30-40 years, and as you shuffle up close enough to your spouse for her to hear, say, “You remember what Roy said back in 2009 about the importance of porta potties? I now know what he was talking about.”) There were enough rest stops to make the ride comfortable and enjoyable and were adequately stocked—water, Gatorade, bananas, pickles, and COOKIES. What else do you need?

The weather was very accommodating even with the previous night’s rain. It was cool until probably after 10 a.m., and there was very little wind. No excuses for not having a good ride except for being late, getting dropped, getting tired, getting lost—but no flats or mechanical problems. Flats and mechanical problems made me remember: the routes avoided the dam, so Rotary Club Ride for Hunger, you did a great job.


  1. This is the first time I have read your blog and your article was great and very flattering I might add. I look forward to reading more!


  2. Thank you for your very generous & flattering comments. Sunrise Rotary Club looks forward each year to hosting a safe & enjoyable ride for the riders. And, yes, the ride director does know that some riders (the more experienced, we hope) don't use the Hwy 87 access roads. We mark the route using the access roads so that the inexperienced or unfamiliar riders have a little more time off of the busy highway. We hope the other riders enjoyed the ride, too.
    Thanks again.