Melon Patch Tour, Saturday, August 7, 2010
De Leon, Texas "Busiest Town; Friendliest People" They should add to their logo, "Home of one of the best bicycle tours in Texas".
For years Melon Patch has had the reputation of having one of the best fed rest stops and has, once again, lived up to the hype. Add to that nice rolling hills, green pastures, water melon fields, peanut fields, good farm land, and live oak stands. And don't forget the door prizes, ticket stub prizes, all you can eat watermelon at the finish line, and a spaghetti lunch with home made cookies, frozen peaches, and a German chocolate cake made to perfection.
The above is just a thumbnail description of the Melon Patch tour and was enough for nine San Angelo riders either to drive down early in the morning or stay the night somewhere in between. There should have been ten riders, however, Christine has been having a hip joint problem and had a cortizone shot Thursday. A medical person advised that she not ride until we find out how the shot works. We are hoping that the shots will keep her on the bike at least until the season is over before undergoing a hip replacement. It was sad when she dropped me off at the assembly area and wasn't going to get to ride. Here's hoping that she recovers enough to finish the season as we have some interesting tours lined up in the coming months.
Christine and I had pre-registered (before we knew she would be medically grounded) and on Friday evening we stopped by to pick up our registration packet. As the volunteer looked at my ride sheet she said, "You won a prize!" I said how nice and she handed me a festively wrapped six pack of Dr. Pepper with some locally grown peanuts. Christine asked me what the prize was for and I just said they hold random drawings and we left it at that.
Saturday morning was line up time. A person could choose from an 8, 18, 29, 42, or 71 mile route.
Four hundred eighty of us lined up for the start. I had looked around, but didn't see anyone that I knew; I thought I was the only one to show up. So I started looking around for a riding partner.
Off to my right side was a rider in a blue shirt who would have made a perfect riding partner. It would be hard to draft off him but I was just looking for a riding partner. Unrelated, the lady in the gray shirt to his right was the event director. Thanks for putting together another great ride!
The start/finish line was at the Senior Center and the start of the ride ran downtown and out Highway 16.
Highway 16 was a nice stretch and few hills...and little traffic.
I was not alone after all. Soon I was joined by Rick and Velma Ogan, Mark Seals, and Liz Rappe'. "Joined" meant they caught up to me--and passed. Rick is easily identified by his signature "suitcase" saddle bag.
This picture is for Chuck who couldn't make it this year. I "coordinated" a by-pass of Rest Stop #1 last year. On stop 2,3,etc., he experienced the "best fed ride" array of goodies and for the past year has not let me forget that I said we were going to ride past #1. We stopped this year just for you Chuck. Pictured: far left Liz, Velma facing in blue, and Rick far right.
Shortly after leaving Rest Stop #1, Velma signaled to turn onto FM 2318.
FM 2318 was a nice lane with a mix of ranches and farms. Noticeable for me was the preponderance of oak trees versus our mesquite dominant pastures. Pictured are Velma, Rick, and Mark.
Liz was not far behind and gave me the opportunity to practice my over-the-shoulder pics.
Liz was not trailing very long and pulled up beside--and past me.
About a mile from Rest Stop #2, Rick noticed a lady off to the side of the road with a flat tire. Rick, out of gentlemanly habit , stopped to fix the flat.
Serendipity that the flat happened in about the only shady area for several miles.
The damsel-in-distress's riding partner noticed that she did not arrive at the rest area in a timely manner and came back to check. The ladies were out of Austin, but, no, Waylon, they didn't know you. The event director will be happy to know that a support person on a motorcycle also stopped and offered assistance.
At Rest Stop 2, it was an opportunity to meet new people. San Angelo riders from left, Mark, Rick, Velma, and Liz.
Nice farm land on FM 587 going to Duster, Texas.
Duster, Texas, located near Polecat Pond boasts a population of 25.
And guess who we spotted at Duster. Martin Robertson whom we had met on the Tour de Gap.
Rest Stop # 3
Mark met us at Rest Stop #3 after having a mechanical problem with his bike.
As we languidly lingered at every stop, it was starting to get hot. Everybody reapplied sun screen at this stop and I was able to catch Velma with her "war paint" before she spread it over her face.
A stretch of road between Duster and Gorman.
Besides the multitude of "routine" and excellent treats, the Melon Patch has been on the cutting edge of refreshing pleasure by providing frozen, home grown peach slices, Popsicles, and chilled candy. But at the Gorman rest stop, I found an ice cream sandwich. Unfortunately, it was starting to melt and I had to eat it like Randy in Christmas Story eating his mashed potatoes. Liz couldn't resist taking a shot before my "spit bath".
Highway 6 after Gorman. Ten miles and one rest stop to go. We joke all year that we go on the De Leon bike ride just to get from one rest stop to another.
Rest stop 5 was on Highway 6, but not close to anything. Right beside a big oak tree was a fire hydrant. The closest structure is the one in the background of the picture. No telling what was planned at the time of installation.
What is a fire hydrant good for if there are no structures to protect? Wait--just joking. It is not what you think. Martin was just reading the "Warning, Water Line" sign----
Roy, Liz, and Mark taking it easy at the last rest stop. Rick and Velma kept going. After all, it was all downhill from here. Picture by Christine. Having all morning with nothing to do, Christine made a trip over to Dublin to pick up cases of the original Dr. Pepper in bottles. After we had left Gorman, we spotted Christine going to Gorman to get unroasted peanuts. She saw us and on her return trip, joined us at the rest stop.
Some of Christine's pictures of the Dr. Pepper plant and muesuem at Dublin, Texas.
On the outskirts of town was the welcome back to De Leon sign with their motto of "Busiest Town, Friendliest People".
Having ridden on to the finish ahead of us, Rick and Velma were once again waiting for us at the finish line.
Just no fair. How can Elaine look so fresh not too long after finishing her ride? I think I "glistened" for about an hour after my ride.
Now Dan portrays a sample of what I was talking about. He had just finished the 71 mile route and had earned his glisten. One can tell how warm it was.
LeAnn joined us and reluctantly agreed to pose. Their tandum is behind them.
Did we spoil our appetite with all the rest stop treats? Well, sort of, but it did not stop us from sampling the spaghetti lunch. Mark skipped the meal admitting he was too full.
Liz and Christine enjoying lunch.
I can't believe I ate the whole thing. Previously, that plate held a gigantic piece of German chocolate cake that Rick warned me was rich. But did that stop me? Two guesses.
I moaned for about an hour before I fell asleep on the way home; Christine drove, of course. But before I fell asleep, we stopped in Comanche, Texas, and enjoyed some of their sights.
The structure is part of the first Comanche County courthouse originally located in Cora, Texas. The oak tree is called Fleming Oak. The story is that Martin Fleming was camped at this spot in 1854. He hid behind the tree from a group of hostile Indians and was not spotted. Later, paving contractors were going to cut down the tree and they were stopped by "Uncle Mart" with his gun.
Before Melon Patch is wrapped up and put on the shelf for a year, one more story.
Everyone is a winner at De Leon. Everyone was given a ticket stub with the registration packet, and before the end of the event, one is to stop by the prize tent to get his treat. For example, Liz, above, got a six pack of Dr. Pepper. We received a bag of roasted peanuts and a watermelon.
Remember the "random drawing" prize I received at registration?
The prize was a nicely wrapped six pack of Dr. Pepper and a bag of peanuts. So? Christine wondered again why I had received the prize. She took it out of the truck and in front of everyone read my prize label: