Chad and I were just riding along, talking and still warming up our legs. I didn't see the snake until we were on it. As we passed, it made a strike at me but missed. Ty, if you thought I screamed and jumped at the Biscuits and Gravy ride, you should have seen/heard me as the snake struck. The group circled back to have a good look at the thing. We wondered if it were a bull snake or a rattler. I opined that it wasn't a rattlesnake since it wasn't rattling.
After a few minutes of sticking his tongue out at us, he decided that it was time to move on as we had disturbed his nap on the road.
Sure enough, as he stretched out, he revealed his rattles.
Being a Texan, I have come across plenty of rattlesnakes, but this was the first time that the snake did not rattle his tail.
Less than a mile further down the road, we came upon another species of desert wildlife:
A tortoise. Ruan moved the tortoise off of the road. He said it hissed at him. Imagine, the tortoise hissed while the rattlesnake neither hissed nor rattled. "Wild" things do funny things.
After spotting a cotton tail rabbit a little way down the road, things settled into what we were really out there for, to ride. (Editor's note: I saw a skunk and a jack rabbit!) Door Key road is a good workout ride with hills from 3-5% grades and an elevation gain of 853 ft. over 14 miles. If all my reading about wind is accurate (or my memory), one could add at least 3% to each hill to account for the wind. If my memory serves me, each 5 mph of wind equals on/about 1% grade. We had a 14 mph wind in our face, so whether it was technically uphill all the way out or not, it was tiring for me. Rick noticed that I had fallen behind and fell back to pull me through the wind. The act of kindness (or pity) was really appreciated. Maybe when I get a motorized bike I can pull for him.
Rick was slowly catching up to two other riders of the group. When we caught up, it was Ruan and Christine. Ruan had dropped back to pull Christine through the wind. Christine, Liz, and Velma had started the ride a few minutes before the guys took off. Everyone was at the end of the road shade tree when Rick, Ruan, Christine, and I pulled up.
L-R from front: Brian Backlund, Chad Freeze, Velma Ogan, Liz Rappe, Christine Jones, Rick Ogan, and Ruan Brits
No one needed to be pulled back to the vehicles. With the same wind to our backs and the predominantly downhill topography, it was a relatively short ride back--for most. Velma had a flat probably about 5 miles into the return trip. Rick was close enough to be able to come to the rescue and get her back on the road. So I have found about the only way to beat her anywhere--let the air out of her tires.
I got excited over the rattlesnake and forgot to feature the riders.
Velma and Rick Ogan
And the lovely Christine Jones