Monday, July 19, 2010

Tour de Paris

Eiffel Tower, Texas style. Paris, Texas is the home of the "Second largest Eiffel Tower in the second largest Paris." The 65 foot tower received a Texas hat in 1998 and some articles now talk about the 70 foot tower. And Paris is the home of the annual Tour de Paris.

Registration begins at the Love Civic Center.  

Outside of the Center a trolley was parked and it was a big hit with people taking pictures standing beside the vehicle. Good advertisement, I thought.

Shortly before 8 a.m., we began to line up according to the length of the tour one wished to ride. Christine and I chose the 65 mile ride and lined up close to the front start line. The turn out this year was the largest to date with a little over 1,000 riders showing up.

First, was a nice tour of downtown Paris.
Volunteers lined up at every intersection to keep riders on the correct street.

The ride through town was well supported and traffic control was excellent.

Remember the trolley? It was at the Center for a purpose other than advertisement. A large group of volunteers were transported downtown to cheer the riders as they passed.

Paris does an excellent job of providing rest stops. They were located from five to seven miles apart. It may seem that it was over-kill, but in the humid heat, the rest stops were really appreciated. The official temperature was 97 degrees with a heat index of 103. My Garmin read-out had an average of 100 degrees with a high of 113. I tend to agree with the Garmin as it felt pretty intense in the sun.

Shady spots such as above were really appreciated.

The roads may look chip seal but they were smoother than most of our local roads. Occasionally, there would be a sign, "Caution, rough road ahead." When we would get to that section, it would be similar to Knickerbocker Road to Highway 277. And they would apologize for the rough roads!!

The area was rich farmland.

I had to include at least one picture of my lagging behind Christine. My shots from behind the groups have been the topic of many "conversations" (read, gripping at me). What the picture does bring out is my failure to take any shots of the hills. The Tour de Paris organizers changed the route this year from being the flattest
ride in Texas to a route with a series of rolling hills. The steepest that I recorded was a 6% grade but there were stretches where it would be one hill after the other. In the heat, the hills eventually wore out a lot of riders. 
Ambulances and SAG vehicles were kept busy all day.
The plentiful rest stops were outstanding.

The volunteers were always pleasant and helpful. This rest stop was in the small community of Pecan Gap.

The recent rains contributing to the humidity didn't quite fill all the streams.
The second horse from the right personified the idiom of "Horse Play". At first it ran down the field and I told Christine that he wanted to race us. But then he turned and put his chin over the top wire and ran along letting the wire scratch his chin and neck.

Above is an example of the well kept farms and houses along the route.

There were a lot of flats throughout the day. We were lucky once more and escaped that malady. And knowing that it was going to be hot, we did not over-fill our tires with air in fear of expansion causing a blow out.

The rest stop at about mile 45 had a refreshing tropical theme and a singing flamingo. What was his tune? "Hot, Hot, Hot," of course. 

I stayed a long time at this rest stop. Not because of the flamingo's entertaining me, but at the previous stop, I overfilled my Camelbak with ice reducing the amount of liquid in the bladder. And so another big lesson learned. I ran out of liquids after about one mile. That put me without anything to drink for miles in the heat of the day. Not a good plan. I filled up the bladder twice and drank both at this stop to get fluids back in me. Eventually I began to feel human again.

I was in good company. The "empty tank" seemed to be a common feeling. A few chose to SAG at this location.

Back on the road and feeling a lot better, I was reminded of the long ago military break down of drinking terminology when happy hour was a command performance. It was said that the enlisted got drunk, the NCOs got inebriated, and the officers got salubrious. A corollary for riders would go like this, "the 37 milers sweat, the 56 milers perspired, and we who rode the 65 mile route "glistened profusely".

Maize and soy beans were a popular crop along the route.

Crete myrtle trees were abundant.

The Boy Scout rest stop was what one would expect. The Scouts were so helpful that one did not have to get off one's bike. We had curb service and could order anything we wanted and have it delivered.

Corn was also a big crop item, but the stalks looked moisture stressed.

Chris ahead of me. Now, I can not remember why I never took a shot of any of our hills. Maybe concentrating on making it up one more hill?

We finally made it back into town and were close  to the finish.

Finish line alert-encouragement

Waiting for the riders at the finish line sign were the high school cheerleaders. They were at the start line cheering on the riders and continued greeting riders until the last one crossed the line.  

Ever enthusiastic cheer leaders.

Awaiting the riders at the Love Civic Center were big cheeseburgers and smoothies. Really hit the spot. We had two smoothies each and thought about a third one, but deferred to the riders and volunteers still to be fed.

Just had to get in a picture of the year's t-shirt. Note that it is the 26th annual ride and we hope it goes for another 26. Only 11,000 more riders to rival Hotter'n Hell Hundred. I think they have equaled HHH temperature-wise, now work on the rider numbers.


  1. Hubby and I did a biking holiday in Provence, France. One good thing about your Texan Tour was the lack of MOUNTAINS. Wonderful trip for you guys! Rosemary

  2. @Steadfast Ahoy. I agree. Later in the season we have a tour in the Davis Mountains. However, our mountains still do not compare with some of the scenery around Provence, France. Did you do a blog write up of your holiday? Would be interesting to read. Roy.

  3. Great post and pictures on the ride although I disagree with you on the chipseal which in my opinion was worse than usual.

    Those horses that raced you ran away when I rode by although I ride a recumbent which might have been the reason :)

  4. Thanks for the pics and commentary. We had a great ride as well and loved the long, new route. I agree with you on the heat. My watch registered 101.3 degrees at the highest.

  5. @Mark Leuck. I envy you on your riding surfaces if you thought Paris was bad. If you would like to see to what we are comparing the roads, come to San Angelo on August 8 and ride the Biscuits and Gravey. Bring a pillow to sit on during your drive back home even though you ride a recumbent. Thanks for commenting. Roy.

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