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.

1 comment:

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