Saturday May 1, 2010
Finally. Nice weather for a ride. For a while things were really iffy and I was thinking, "Oh no, another ride story starting with a blow by blow weather forecast."
But to understand the "iffy" part, one would have to know what our forecast was--thunderstorms starting Friday night continuing until 9 a.m., Saturday, (ride start time) and from 9-12 showers, then back to thunderstorms. However, we had a 70% chance of NOT being rained upon, so Friday night at bedtime it was still a go.
Saturday morning we awoke to thunder in the distance but were too sleepy even to think of canceling, so I continued getting ready as if I had good sense. It drizzled on me as I loaded the bikes. We were fortunate to have company on the trip, and as we arrived at Dorothy Langdon's house, no drizzle, and very little rain had occured there. The sun was starting to come up, and the clouds were overcast rather than dark and threatening. As the sun came on up, it appeared we were going to have the luck of the 70% not raining on us.
Unfortunately for Sandy, the event director, and the other volunteers and managers, the forecast discouraged a lot of cyclists from taking a chance. I think most of the above group was from Sweetwater.
The San Angelo group consisted of Brian Buckland, Roy and Christine Jones, Dorothy Langdon, Jerry Middleton and his wife. Considered part of the San Angelo group was Charlie Davis whom we met on the Ballinger ride. Charlie was accompanied by his wife Becky who didn't ride but cheered all on with her smile. And Brian's wife Esmeralda accompanied him and joined in with the smiles and encouragement.
Charlie is a celebrity now. He's being interviewed by the local news reporter. We forgot to ask how to get a copy of their paper.
I think the reporter interviewed Jerry and his wife, but the reporter preferred to take pictures rather than to be in them.
And speaking of smiles, Becky Davis was still cheerful when we finally returned.
Earlier, I wasn't kidding about good weather for a ride. It was not too hot or cold, just a slight chill in the air which made for comfortable riding. The wind was negligible--a real treat after the last couple of weeks. Even our local group rides had been "practicing" in 20+ mph winds. The biggest factor in the ride was my map reading ability or lack thereof. Later I may share my ignominous map reading skill, but being ex-military, I should know which end of the map goes up. Back to a better subject, the sky was overcast which allows for a good sunburn but not the suffering while obtaining it. Overall, the weather, in contrast to what we have been experiencing, was a real treat.
The instructions for the ride were announced right at 9 a.m. I listened with a knowledgeable look on my face as I heard, "start on 163, turn on 307..." It is hard for me to retain more than two instructions in a series but knowing that I was going to ride in a group, I entrusted everyone else to remember the ten turns after 307. As the instructions ended, I had a moment of panic and asked for a map. Good thing I did.
After climbing out of the valley in which Colorado City is situated, the terrain flattens quite a bit.
Typical terrain after climbing the big hill to get out of the valley.
Occasionally we would have rollers all the way to the State Park.
Rollers were good workouts rather than exhausting challenges.
Brian, Charlie, and I had been riding together from the start. Just before the State Park turn off, we joined up with a gentleman from Sweetwater whose son and his friends were racers and therefore somewhere way up ahead. None of us was in a hurry. We were just enjoying the ride. All the conversations about time were that we had plenty of time as the BBQ wasn't going to be served until noon. Jerry and his wife had the same philosophy, as well as Dorothy and Christine. Only the racers were in a hurry to get anywhere. I hope they saw some of the flowers along the road.
Many of the wildflowers were starting to lose some of their brilliance but were still pretty.
Map reading 101. As Brian, Charlie, man from Sweetwater, and I approached the State Park, we had a short discussion about whether to turn in or not. I mentioned that it was last year's route--but didn't the briefer say the route changed this year? It seemed that none of the others listened either, so (girls pay attention) we did the logical thing and checked the map.
Christine can attest that I can never orient a map. North, south, east, and west are vague concepts to me which people discuss so that I can not dicipher what they are talking about. I turned the map over to Brian. Charlie and the other gentleman studied another map. It was decided that we were to look for 256 to turn off to continue our journey. Now, don't anyone do what Christine did when I was telling her this story. She just looked at me and said "Didn't the name LAKE Colorado City give you the first clue to turn into the Park?" No, remember in my mind they changed the route. And merrily we turned on Ranch Road 2836.
Merrily we went down Ranch Road 2836. It was a slight decline, no traffic, we had plenty of time, why worry.
Even the cows knew we were going the wrong way and looked up in a condensending way toward us.
A little later, we reassessed out situation as it was beginning to dawn on us that if we continued, we would run into the access road and miss all of the LAKE. Another look at the map. It was determined that if we took 256, it would intersect with 254 and we would be back on track. There was a little side road that we all swore said 256, so we took it. Thank goodness it was only about a half mile instead of 10 miles when the road we were on became a dirt road, and we didn't think it would intersect with 254. We got back on 2836. Soon we saw another sign that said 256. Being trusting souls, we turned. Shortly, maybe a mile, we saw a pick up truck with blinking running lights at an intersection. The man was there to tell the other riders to turn RIGHT on 254, he calmly--without comment--motioned for us to turn LEFT onto 254. We did, were back on the recommended bike tour route, still had plenty of time before they served the BBQ, and got to see the back side of the lake.
Merrily we rolled along enjoying our ride. Soon we turned on to 252 and enjoyed more of the lake views. And guess what 252 intersected with? Any one who said, "Ranch Road 2836!" go to the head of the class.
Now everyone will have to trust me on the next part since this is written after the fact and I am not just making it up to make us look good. Really, after the road that ended with a dirt road, our fall back plan was to continue down 2836 until we intersected with 252. We knew that although we would have missed most of the lake scenery, we would be on track. Who was to know, we had plenty of time before they served BBQ, and it was a nice day for a bike ride.
The event planner's recommended route--should all choose to follow it--had us on 2836 only to cross a bridge to get across a channel. Then we were to turn right on to 248. (I hope no one has all the route numbers straight in his head as it would discredit my claim that I can follow only two route changes during the instructions.)
As were rounded a corner, we saw a group of riders on the side of the road.
Seems one had a flat and one had a rock between the chain and derailluer. The one with the checked jersey was the Sweetwater man's son. So we in our round about way caught up to the racers. How about that.
When the problems were fixed, the racers took off and left us as if we were out for a Sunday stroll. But you know the story of the rabbit and the hare, as we trod along, we rounded another corner and caught up to some of the racers again.
The red/white jersey biker had the flat this time.
Just before the flat was fixed, Jerry and his wife passed us up. And soon around the corner were two more riders.
Christine and Dorothy caught up to everyone. They were just enjoying the ride and had no intentions of increasing their pace. Christine said she had been able to talk the whole ride (surprise, surprise) but she meant that she never pedaled hard enough to make her gasp.
As the last racer's flat was fixed and they rode off, the next event opens the door for another well used phrase, "All good things come in threes." Dorothy's front tire went flat. Two thorns were found in her tire.
Brian and Charlie fixing Dorothy's flat.
It was determined that I should make myself useful, so I was allowed to hold the tube with two punctures.
With everyone operational, we took off, and the friendly folks on the right waved us goodbye.
Still enjoying the ride.
Just before we entered the access road, we decided to improvise with an unofficial rest stop.
Everyone knows the chorus by now, it was a social ride, we were just riding for the enjoyment, and had plenty of time before they served the BBQ.
The route "change" that allowed me to confuse the group earlier in the ride was that once we hit the access road, we just follow it into town. If I had remembered just that during the instructions, we would have stayed on course, but maybe not have had as much fun.
The ride was finished but not the day. Now the chorus can sing a new refrain. It was a nice day for a ride, we were enjoying the ride and company, and IT WAS TIME TO SERVE THE BBQ.
Well worth the wait.
Sandy (center) and Event Staff
And a big round of applause for the chef.