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).   

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