Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ennis FFA Lion Pride Ride

Ennis, Texas
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Rain and the threat of more rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of 125 riders for the annual Lion Pride Bike Ride. The ride was to be a social ride but there were about three teams there and each huddled before the ride. 
The team closest to us. The man in the green shirt in the background was the team leader. I think the lady on the right hand side got caught by a railroad crossing at about mile 30 and cracked her bike frame.
Strategies all worked out, we all lined up at our respective markers. There were a 66, 40 (42), and 35 mile line up. Christine and I again decided to line up with the lesser--42-milers. Our "strategy" was to get back to the finish line and eat before everything was gobbled up by faster riders.

Strategy reminds me of back when Christine and I were working out on the CompuTrainer. A tour ride was coming up and Randy, our CompuTrainer coach, asked what our strategy was going to be. Both of us looked at him with blank faces (and blank minds), then we brightened and said "To finish the ride!" To this day our goal and strategy for a tour is--to finish the ride.

Just as we were about to take off it started sprinkling. We had disposable rain coats with us but thought we would wait until it really started raining as one can get quite hot in the coverings. 
Very shortly into the ride we crossed the Bardwell Resorvoir. It was a pretty lake but I didn't see many boats out even though it was a Saturday. More fun to open a beer and watch the Rangers game than to go out on a lake and get wet.
Notice the distance between us and the riders. Because they were that much faster? No. Shortly before this picture I told Christine let't get behind them and draft even though the wind was't too bad. But we instantly remembered that you don't draft behind someone when the roads are wet. Water and mud being spun into your face doesn't contribute to a fun ride.
The hills around Ennis were an average of a 4% grade making for an interesting ride but not over-taxing.

A lot of the ride was flat farmland which didn't hurt our pride or average. And we had a strategy--finish.

Just to keep the ride interesting, Ennis would throw in a few hills every once in a while. In the last picture one can tell we had just experienced another light shower. We were not yet soaked.

Another lucid moment. We pulled up at a rest stop, and I looked across the road at dozens and dozens of truck loads of cotton and said, "Wow, that farmer really had a good crop," setting up Christine for another one of her one liners. "That's a cotton gin, dear".  
Oh sure, if you look really closely you can see the gin. Only about three riders heard my gaffe, so I can live it down.
We took the road past the cotton gin down a pretty lane. It reminded me of the one car lane ride at Stonewall.
It could have been the mood the pretty lane put me in but as we passed this house, not only did I think it was pretty, it made me want to stop and go in and find out more about the owners. It just looked inviting.
The whole ride was a nice relaxing journey. It may sound strange from two retired individuals, but we needed a nice relaxing break from our routine.
And what better way to take a nice break than to be greeted by young, enthusiastic Ennis High School rest stop volunteers. Christine looked as if she were having a ball talking to the vols, but by the time I took the shot, she had to pause for a drink.
One of the girls offered to take our picture and we really appreciated her thoughtfulness.
Thanks gang for your hospitality. Two thumbs up.

After the rest stop we were back on highway 34 leading back into town. Last leg of the ride. Take note TxDOT. They repaved the highway with chip seal but left the shoulder alone. The shoulder of  hwy 34 was a really nice, smooth ride. We remarked to each other throughout the ride that they really had good roads to ride. Places that were rough or potted were well marked with caution signs to watch for the painted areas. 
The stretch of black soil made Christine homesick for the rich cornfield farmland of Illinois.
Crossing the Bardwell Reservoir again verified we were close to the finish.
Turning right off of highway 34 we were greeted by sight of the stadium and a friendly welcome back volunteer.
And we were greeted by another welcome sight. Atmos Energy was cooking up cheeseburgers for everyone. Complete with drinks, chips, and COOKIES. We had accomplished our strategy. Finish the course and get back before all the fast riders eat all the food.

And our strategy worked out in another way also. As we were eating, it really started raining and the wind blowing. The event director announced that the ride was being stopped as lightning was predicted in the near future. All riders not on highway 34 were to be sagged in. Now, on the longer route, that would have been Christine and I, and another one of our goals is not to be sagged in on a ride. Secondary goal is not to eat soggy cheeseburgers.

Ennis is loaded with hospitality. Friendly rest stop volunteers. Friendly greeters as you arrive and leave. A great way to end the ride and day was the friendly greeters giving us a big, "Y'all come back next year."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Munich and Salzburg, Austria

We were in a tour group and some of the members missed our first Munich bus tour due to flight schedules. So we circled back through Munich on our way to Salzburg, Austria.

Typical Bavarian homes.
Oktoberfest was in full swing while we were there. We had hoped to attend it as it is so famous (infamous?).
However, the two above pictures were as close as we got. The ferris wheel was part of the family days of Oktoberfest which added to the crowded conditions.
But they got to go to the fest. Although not required for admittance lederhosen and dirndls are the desired apparel for this world renown song fest and beer glut. I guess one looks more dignified while happily staggering down the strasse.

On the way to Austria. Interesting. When we took shots from the train window in Alaska they came out pretty well. Most of my "through the window" shots on this trip were not as sharp. Christine has threatened to send me to photography classes, but my retort is that the camera advertisements say, "Just point and shoot". You have to go to classes to point?

Of course shooting through a window allows for different hues to be created. So, I carefully planned this shot to to be clear in the meadow and for the mountains to gradually fade into the distance. 

Part of the Salzburg walking tour through the same gardens in which the "Sound of Music" was filmed. Our shots don't reflect the charm and beauty of this city, one of the most beautiful cities we've seen.

Some streets were so narrow it made me wonder if they had one-way streets in the horse and carriage days.

Mozart's birthplace. The open window marked the room in which Mozart was born. 

 We ate lunch at a dinner theater featuring "The Sound of Music" numbers and Austrian folk songs. Near the end, audience participation was "encouraged".
Christine and partner take a bow after their marvelous minuet dance.