Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fort Davis-Day One-The Joy Ride



The Fort Davis weekend will be broken into at least three stories: "Day One--The Joy Ride," "Day Two--The Long Ride," and "Day Three--The Tough Ride." The idea to break the weekend into separate parts came from a conversation Christine and I had as we ate lunch at Fort Stockton Sunday on our return home.

I had wolfed my lunch down and looked across at Chris’s plate. She had taken about two bites. I started telling her a story about a person I met on the ride. As I finished, I looked across again and Chris had finished her lunch. I said “Wow, I only had time to tell one story”. She said, “You tell a story long”. Aha! I had caught my editor in a grammatical goof of putting an antecedent before the precedent or some such nonsense. So, I said, “You mean I tell a long story”. Christine looked at me and said “No, you tell a story, LONG.

And the weekend was three very eventful days, so if I tried to write one story it would be LONG.

Events leading up to day one started about three years ago when Carl Murdock, a friend from Odessa, told us of the Prude Ranch's holding a ride each year in early spring with bikers starting from Prude Ranch and rolling downhill to Balmorhea and then being SAGed back to the Ranch. Carl said he didn’t have to pedal for 18 miles and that it was a lot of fun. We went to the Fort Davis Cyclefest that year and Chris saw the downhill road and the idea of rolling downhill for miles on end was firmly fixed in her mind.

Fast forward to this year and we had the bright idea that on Friday Christine would ride downhill, and I would SAG for her, and then on Sunday I would ride down, and she would SAG for me. All set. Then we learned that Rick Ogan was planning the Fort Davis trip, and I approached him with the idea that he and Chris ride downhill Friday, and I would SAG for both of them. Sounded like a good idea, so on the Wednesday ride before the Fort Davis weekend, it was agreed that he would meet us at the Limpia Hotel at 4 p.m.

Friday...and he and Chris would leave from the hotel on the way to Balmorhea. I had mapped out the ride on MapMyRide, and it was 31 miles of downhill—-with a few uphill areas (Rick, see http://www.mapmyride.com/route/us/tx/fort%20davis/797125245776699411 if you don’t believe me.) MapMyRide “promised” there would be 31.78 miles to Toyahvale with 1,647 feet of descent and only 121 feet of ascent. The perfect ride.

We arrived early enough to tour the hotel and walk around town a little. Even though we have stayed at the Limpia before, it is almost impossible to tire of the d├ęcor.




And the town has the quaint small town flavor.




A few minutes before 4 p.m., Rick rolled up on his bike.

Rick was staying at the Fort Davis State Park and found that even though it was mostly downhill, there were a few ups. (Sound familiar?) And, Rick was very cautious as he was not only to ride the 75 mile scenic loop over the Davis Mountains on Saturday, but on Sunday he had signed up to race up the BIG hill to McDonald’s Observatory, so he wanted to conserve his legs. I assured him that MapMyRide said it was all downhill, so no sweat.

And the Joy Ride Began.

Right outside of town the terrain started downhill (from my perspective in the truck). Chris and Rick were pedaling downhill and I thought they just wanted to go really, really fast.

I was having fun racing around them trying to find a good place to pull over and take their pictures of the great downhill ride.
No matter how steep the hill, I noticed they continued to pedal. OK, once I saw them coast. But I thought they just wanted to go really, really fast. And it was no time at all from my pulling off to the side of the road, getting out, and here they would come down the hill.

OK. Maybe there were some inclines.
But, the inclines were off-set (from my biased opinion since I wasn't having to pedal) by the scenery on the way.





More scenery




And the ride continues:


Somewhere in the story I will have to confess, I think MapMyRide was wrong not only on the descent but the ascent. On the ride up the hill going into Wild Rose Pass, it was at least an incline of 1 ½ miles.


Way back down the hill I saw Chris was pushing her bike up the hill. I asked Rick to wait for me and I would drive back down and SAG Chris up the hill.

On the top of the hill, both Rick and Chris informed me that the reason they were pedaling all the time was that the wind was so hard they had to pedal even if it was downhill, and the number of up-hills equaled the number of down-hills. Rick politely informed me of this. Chris really, really, informed me of this. It was decided to call it a day as they both wanted to conserve their legs, but they certainly could not on this “downhill” ride.


The uphill that they had just climbed seemed to be the only chance for them to have a good downhill ride, as it was certainly steep enough, and the wind would be to their backs. So I told them I would meet them at a picnic area at the bottom of the hill, and they could finally have a joy ride.

At the picnic area I put the bikes on the rack but Rick’s bike is taller than mine and the safety bolt that I use would not go through the hole. Both Rick and I checked the tightness of the tube hook lock, and I had all the wheels latched down with brand new Velcro straps. We started back to Fort Davis when Rick remembered he left his computer on the bike, so I stopped, and he got the computer. He was in the back seat and was reading off some to the stats of the ride. Somewhere thereafter I looked through the rear view mirror and...........................




In rapid succession the conversations went like this: me, “I can’t see Rick’s bike!!” Rick, upon looking back, “My bike is gone!!” Chris, looking through the side mirror, “STOP, you're dragging the bike!!!!’



I stopped. We jumped out. The hook had come off Rick’s tube, and the bike had fallen to the highway, but the wheels were held onto the rack by the Velcro straps. I am not sure how long I dragged the bike, but the left handle bar at the shifter/brake was ground completely off, the leather wrap was scraped off somewhere on the chip seal, and Rick’s brand new Brooks saddle was chewed up at the back ridge. AND his favorite head light was no where to be found. We all were sick.
Trust me; the damage was worse than it looks in the pictures.



This time we latched the hook down with a bungee cord (for the life of me I can not say why that didn’t occur to me when I first found that the safety bolt would not go through the bar).

The bike stayed on but the damage had been done. Little, quaint Ft. Davis or even Alpine, 50 miles away, had no bike shops, so it was decided to go to the Prude Ranch, and maybe the sponsors of the ride, Peyton’s Bike Shop, would have brought spare parts. David Ham of Peyton’s Bike did not bring spare parts but was very helpful and had a person to call the shop for one of the people who was to come out later to bring the needed parts for Rick to be able to get on the road.

The person was to arrive early Saturday morning and they thought that they could put the handle bar and other parts on fast enough for Rick to be able to ride the scenic loop Saturday morning.

We took Rick to the State Park, and even after all of the above, he agreed to eat dinner with us. We weren’t sure of the time to eat so set a tentative time, and then Christine and I went to the hotel and obtained reservations for 8:15. Since we hadn’t set a firm time, we went back to the State Park to tell Rick what time our reservations were. He wasn’t at the site, so we went to another site where the Robinson’s from San Angelo were as they had some tools that Rick could use to start his repairs. Neither the Robinson’s nor Rick were at that site. We had no choice but to return to the hotel and cross our fingers that all would turn out. As we pulled into the parking lot, Rick was in the back of his truck working away trying to get his bike ready for parts replacement the next morning.

I don’t know how, but Rick was still able to smile.


And that is how we ended the day of the “Joy Ride”.

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