Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Outing

Funny how things develop. After Saturday's ride, we discussed doing the routine Monday ride at 6 p.m. Since it was a three day weekend for most people, the Monday ride plans expanded to an 8 a.m. Mount Nebo ride. Mt. Nebo is a fun ride and has good scenery. After everyone left from the Saturday ride, Liz Rappe and I were talking about different ride routes we had done from her house in Christoval last year that were a lot of fun, then she added that maybe we could have a cookout after the ride. And to sweeten the pot, she added that all could swim in the Concho River behind her house, AND if anyone wanted to kayak, she had three to use. Done deal. A lot of people already had plans, but eight of us were able to make it to Liz's house for a day of fun.

Mark Seals, Christine Jones, Rick and Velma Ogan, Liz Rappe, Amanda Brown, Boyd Guthrie.

We were to start our ride through a country-side settlement that had good scenery and very little traffic.

Boyd and his son Tyler on their tandum. Amanda and Liz are next. Christine, Rick, and Velma are hard to identify in the distance. 

One of several times that we crossed the S. Concho River on the ride.
Across from the lilly pads is a popular spot for camping, picnicing, and fishing.
Crossing the Concho again going toward our next adventure of climbing the hills of Allen Lane.

On top of a particularly long hill, Christine, Liz, Mark, Rick, and I paused for a photo op, but the sun was not right. Christine was telling me to turn around and take the shot to my back. I did.

The sun was in a better position to capture the rollers we were about to face.

Rick, Amanda, Liz, Christine, and Velma. Not quite to the turn around point, but a nice place to re-group. The bluff overlooked a pristine valley.
One of many wind turbines at the turn around point.
More wind turbines in the distance as Velma, Liz, Rick, Mark, and Amanda contemplated the distant hill. It looked innocent but at one point has a 12% grade one had to be ready for or pay a price.
But first, I found some nice flowers at the turn around point:

Now it was time to start back to the house for the next round of activities.

Let the picnic begin. Boyd, Velma, Rick, Amanda, and Liz start it out.

I started out cooking. I forgot how I finessed Christine into taking over.
(Editor's note: It wasn't finess; it was incompetence.)
Good food, good conversation, good company.

Did everyone get his fill?

Luke, a nine week old Golden Retriever belonging to Boyd and Amanda exhibited the contentment of the group.
Before all of us imitated Luke, it was time to go down to the river.
   Christine, Velma, and Rick look over the swimming hole. 
Boyd jumps in followed by Tyler and Zach. Zach is Liz's grown Golden Retriever and gets to swim all the time. Below Zach gets to show out and demonstrate how he "retrieves".
After his swim, Zach showed Luke how to dry off by rolling in the dirt and grass. Luke being a good student, imitated Zach, but I was laughing so much that I missed the shot.
Across the river was a tree swing that Boyd, Tyler, and Rick were enjoying. Amanda decided to join them.

After much cajoling, badgering, and "encouragement", I was talked into joining the crowd.

That water looked cold.

Yup, it was.
Everyone took turns swinging out into the river. I confess it had been YEARS since I had done such.

Next, Christine, Velma and I decided to go down to where Liz puts her kayaks in the water.

Kayaks waiting to be put into the water. We decided to return to the house and met Rick going to the kayaks to take a spin. We declined to go with him. Soon Rick returned after a quick tour. Liz, Boyd, and Amanda came back up to the house and were going to load up additional kayaks for all to take a ride. We declined and called it a day. I was beginning to feel like I would like to join Luke in his nap time. 

Before we split up, it was agreed upon to repeat the events in the future.

Memo to self: next time bring a swim suit and beach shoes.  

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Christoval Via Seven Sisters

Christoval, Texas: "Small Town Livin' with a Hill Country Atmosphere" is the motto of the Christoval website. Getting to Christoval by the way of "Seven Sisters" is among the more popular routes for San Angelo cyclers. It had been a while since we rode this route, so we decided to make the 46 mile ride.  

The day was nearly perfect. If anyone has a memory longer than mine, it can be recalled we started out this month still in chilly weather gear and not shedding layers until late in a ride. Our weather has gone to the other extreme; an 8 a.m. temperature runs about 72 degrees and gets well into the 90's before we finish a reasonably distanced ride.  These were the Saturday temperatures, and to top it off, a 10 mph wind was the highest forecast. Perfect.

Eight of us met at the "beach" to start our ride.

Rick, Marlon, Mark, Ruan, Velma, and David

Not pictured above was Chad Freeze (in red jersey)

The group rides seem to take on a life of their own. On different rides and ride groups we often have unspoken spots to stop and re-group. On this particular ride, the regroup area was just "automatically" the little town of Knickerbocker (about 13-14 miles into the ride).

Velma, Mark, and David in front of the Knickerbocker Post Office/Community Center.

During the short "snack break", Alan Atkins (far right) rode up doing a solo.

Upon leaving Knickerbocker, there is a short stretch of level road before the seven hills of FM 2335.

The "need" to re-group on our rides becomes obvious as we stretch out, each going his own speed. David is in the background; and the foreground marks a diminishing of the bright colored flowers and their turning to seed. Too bad as we had some pretty roadsides this spring.
The next unspoken re-group area was to be the intersection of FM 2335 and Hwy 277. Just before reaching the intersection, I looked up and David was on the wrong side of the road signaling me to make a wide circle. As there was no traffic, I pulled over to the other lane to see what he was pointing at.

Bull snake on the side of the road. David said he almost hit him. After I took some shots of the snake, David tried to scare him into either crossing the road or going back to the ditch. The snake wouldn't budge but acknowledged our existence but sticking out his tongue at us.

The group was waiting for us at the intersection. Since the snake wasn't on the road as they went by, David and I were able to make up our own story. Like a good fishing story, by the time we were through with our snake story, it was an 18-foot anaconda.

From the highway intersection, we decided to go to one of our favorite rest stops--Tres Amigos convenience store. Highway 277 is pretty busy so we lined up on the far side of the road.

Waiting for us at the convenience store was:

Liz Rappe with Krispy Kremes fresh from San Antonio that morning.

Liz shared the doughnuts with us, and we had another great snack rest stop.  It looks like David (center) is telling all how he over-powered the snake into submission before my arrival. 
Mark and Ruan chatting in the shade.

Christoval was holding its 17th Annual Toenail Trail Days Music Festival and Craft Fair downtown. While we were at Tres Amigos, a '51 De Soto pulled in for gas. The driver said they had participated in the parade that morning.

Stomachs full (and it was getting a little warm), we started back toward San Angelo.

Soon into the ride, we started to spread out again.

David, Liz, and Mark

This was the fun part of the ride. Wind to our back and on a slight decline. Christoval is at a 2,125-foot elevation and San Angelo is 1,850 feet, so we slowly drop 275' over about 14 miles. Every little drop helps.(Shortly into the ride Rick passed us (the small speck up the road) and was going to join with the lead group).

There was an unplanned re-group at the intersection of Hwy 277 and Airport Road. Just before the intersection, Marlon got a bee in his helmet. As he took off his helmet still pedaling, his sunglasses flew off. By the time I caught up to him he was walking back down the road to get his glasses. He wasn't stung, and his glasses weren't broken making this incident another interesting story to tell on the next ride. Rick held up for him, so we took off as a group once again.

At the end of the ride, all chip seal, bees, snakes, wind, and hills are forgotten. What is left are pleasant memories.

Forgot to mention. When I talked about the "lead group", Ruan (left with back turned) ended up with an over 18 mph average. Chad, who decided to return to San Angelo by going back over the 7 Sisters again, had a 17.8 average. I didn't get the others' averages but I do know the slowest one was 16.2 (me).