Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday April 23 Group Ride

Starting line up: Ruan, David, Donna, Velma, Rick, Dorothy, Christine J., Christine B., Brian, Mark, and Curtis.
The original plan was to do the Burma Loop. However, among the various considerations, Rick said he had driven out that way and a lot of the pastures on the route were charred. And, at that time, we were still waking up to the smell of smoke. Starting at the equalization channel bridge and going to Knickerbocker and up Guinn Road was a good choice. No fires were on that side of town--yet. 

We started at 9 a.m., which to Christine and I is quite early. However, as we started, we met some of the local riders already coming back from their ride.  
Tamara Roberts
Rita Grafton
I think this is Anda Greeney.
The morning was nice and calm--until about 9 a.m., our start time. And then the fore casted 14-18 mph wind started, and, of course, into our faces the first 15 miles. I was lucky enough to draft off of Christine Buckstead as she pulled me toward Velma, the little speck up the road.
Soon we hit a slight incline and Christine B./Velma took off. I didn't. Rick yelled for me to latch on as he, David, and Brian passed me. I did for a while and then they took off. I didn't.
'Nuff said.
The route has one good hill. Velma was on top just circling to see if we were going to stop for a breather. The plan was to go on into Knickerbocker as a stopping and re-grouping point. I signaled for her to go ahead and take off. I didn't.
I wanted to stay and document others' suffering as much as I was. Dorothy came by with a smile, so I stayed to see the next person suffer.
Donna came by with a smile. No fair.
Curtis Oliver hadn't broken a sweat yet.
Christine J. came by with a smile and wink.
As a last resort and vindication, I asked Mark to pretend the going was hard. It would have worked if he too hadn't smiled.
Just before Knickerbocker, we met a lone rider. I didn't recognize him, but he was friendly. That qualifies him to ride with us next time.
How can you tell it's spring in West Texas during a drought? The mesquite trees have green leaves.
Re-group area. We were to meet Cindy and Jerry Middleton at the Post Office.
Cindy and Jerry looking rested after the ride from their ranch. Christine J. replenished her fluids.  
Visiting is an important part of a ride.
Velma, Dorothy, Donna, and David.
Christine J. insisted upon slathering her nose with sun screen and zinc. So I insisted on taking her picture. Although she took some good natured teasing about her "make-up", she insisted that Easter is the wrong season for a red nose.
From Knickerbocker, we headed down (or up?) Guinn Road, wind, of course, still in our face,
which still didn't seem bother Curtis too much. He was doing fine and is fairly new to cycling.
Brian and Rick cruising along. I drafted off them for a while and then they took off. I didn't.
So therefore, the majority of riders was waiting for me at the turn-around point.
Except for Christine J., Jerry, and Cindy. When Rick passed me earlier and said that Christine was with Jerry and Cindy, I knew that Christine was back there just talking their ears off.
Cindy encouraging Mark onward. Mark has been playing soccer for a team and his legs were sore from using other muscles in his legs. I can empathize with him, but wait until mid-season when his running muscles complement his cycling muscles and watch out.
Before we left, Donna insisted on taking a picture with a new addition to the group pictures--can you find Waldo?

 Wind to our backs. Finally. And everyone took off. I didn't.
 At our last re-group stop, Jerry has that "I dare you to tell me the elevation of a hill" look. (For backgrounsd see Fredericksburg Fall Frolic for the rebellion of a hill's % grade.)
Curtis deep in thought--we forgot to tell him it's not allowed on our rides.

 Ruan and Velma--ready to go.
 Group approaching the backside of the Windy Ridge Ranch hill.
 True to it's name, the words "Windy Ridge" have been blown away by the wind leaving only the announcement of Ranch.
 If one stops to take pictures, this is what the road looks like--devoid of riders front and back.

 Go straight to cross the equalization channel overpass or turn right to go to the cars.
 We chose to go right.
 Riding is all about people having fun while torturing themselves.
 Christine J. was intrigued with Curtis's Air Force decorative window. Reminded her of the WW II nose art on her uncle's bomber .
All too soon the ride was over. But we have next week's windy Ballinger ride to look forward to. Hope all can make it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pedal Power Wildflower

Stonewall, Texas
April 2, 2011
Stonewall is just down the road from Fredericksburg so a stop there is "mandatory" (if you are traveling with women).
 Christine and Dorothy
Besides being a historical town, it has many antique shops and other interesting stores.

You know you are in Texas when--deer antlers and cowhide are art and

 you can buy a bluebonnet Christmas tree. 
Besides shopping, we visited more places than we have space to talk about, but the above Vereins Kirche was an interesting stop. It was a replica of an 1847 church for all denominations, school, and community hall. Making the museum even more interesting was the docent.
This gentleman revealed he was 88 yrs old. He served in the Navy during WWII and told us of his adventures. He also knew almost everything to know about the museum contents, the town history, and the first settlers which were from Germany. He also told of his grandfather and some other individuals and their part in the Civil War. If you are in Fredericksburg for just a short time, skip the antique stores and visit with this gentleman. You will not regret it. 
  Got a tree that you just don't know what to do with?

But lest I forget, we were there for the Pedal Power Wildflower Ride. Anyone who has read any of the current year rides knows that I have lamented our lack of rain, and therefore our lack of wildflowers to date this spring. That our of the way, we were there for a fun ride.
Christine Jones and Dorothy Langdon's pre-ride picture. (Christine blocked me from posting any post-ride pictures).
Lucy Jochum, Debbie Yohman, and Rita Grafton. 
Bill Yohman
Brian Backlund heading up the line-up (blue jersey to right).
Rita, Lucy, Debbie, and Dorothy ready for take-off. Not pictured, Christine was waiting eagerly at the intersection for an additional person who was unable to make it to the ride this year.

Approximately four hundred riders registered this year, down a little from some of the previous years. Some would ride the 23, 36, or 60 mile route. Rita, Brian, Dorothy, Christine, and I were going on the 60 mile route. However, as will be evident, right after the first rest stop, Rita picked up her pace while the rest of us plodded along.
Just as we left the LBJ State Park we crossed the Perdenales River and started on our first incline.
As soon as we finished one incline here came another.
And another. I have a lot more examples but I think the point is clear. Once the riders are sufficiently warmed up, a rest stop is provided.
Now this is a rest stop! German sausage wrapped in a tortilla, cheese blocks, pickles, sausage slices, crackers, fruit, vegetables, energy bars, cookies,
Gatorade, and I forgot what else.
  From the look on Christine's face as she arrived, I think she has been to this rest stop before.
No, this is not the sausage wrap and cheese line but something just as essential.
As we left rest stop one, the terrain leveled out quite a bit--as it was leading us to the next set of hills just past Willow City. Dorothy and we enjoyed the level road. Christine insisted that this picture of winter wheat be included. It's hard to take the farm out of the girl. But speaking of the roads, this ride has some of the best road surface in the state. There was only one small stretch of highway on the return trip that had a few potholes and bumpy surface, otherwise, we enjoyed the small-rock chip seal.
There were a few wildflowers along the wayside.
And livestock. We were frequently in some ranch land with just a road running through. So, there were many, many cattle guards on our routes.
I think Dorothy and Christine said they stopped counting as we crossed 20, and as the return trip back-tracked over some of the same roads, we hit each at least twice. Kept one awake though.
Brian led us into Willow City. At this point, we turned left and started the Willow City Loop. The loop provided the fodder for most of the ride war-stories in the absence the bluebonnets.
Rest stop at Willow City. Brian prepared for the next leg.
Christine and Dorothy were still in good spirits so
Off we went toward the long downhill on Highway 16.
This was probably the largest stand of bluebonnets we passed.
Christine preparing for the big roll. Right after this point I took no more pictures as I was too busy holding on. Brian and I actually had to brake for cars that were slowing up due to riders going down the hill. Christine was going only about 40 and the cars wanted to go 70.
We all made it down safely. Dorothy wanted to sit for a picture at this spot as last year she was sitting in a solid stand of bluebonnets. This year she was sitting in a bed of goat-head stickers.
From Highway 16 we got back on the Willow City Loop heading to the hills.
A popular road for motorcycles,
sports cars,

and roadside spectators.
Soon we found shade and rested to steel ourselves for what was next.
Right after the gate where the two in front of Brian are, the hill started to become interesting. One would have to enlarge the picture, but the two riders in the upper clearing are already pushing their bikes up. After that little clearing, the road continues to the right to the top of the hill.  At one point as I was struggling, I glanced at my Garmin, and it was indicating 13% grade. What flashed through my mind was, "Jerry is right. It is not helpful to know what the grade is." It did not encourage me to continue watching to see how much more steep the grade could become. I was aware that I was gasping for breath which served to alert people pushing their bikes that someone was approaching from behind. As I inched past one lady walking her bike, she said, "Hey, you are not going much faster than me." Soon thereafter I noticed that I was rolling faster and glanced down--the incline was only 9%. So Jerry, while knowing the grade sometimes is depressing, other times it can be a source of encouragement.
Chris said that as long as she was walking up The Hill she could see the beauty in the terrain even as dry as it was...bluebonnets, yuccas, live oaks, and miles and miles.
Yucca, orange and green lichen on Texas red granite, and prickly pear cactus.

Brian at the top of the hill. The water, power bars, oranges were really needed at this stage. On the left were chairs in the shade.

There were more hills, of course, (it is The Hill Country, after all) and a particularly interesting hill before the terrain levels out some. While going down a decline one is faced with a little water running over a low water crossing, so one naturally slows down. Immediately after, one has to make a 90 degree left turn onto another road while being mindful of traffic. The road rises sharply, and one doesn't start it with any momentum.  Yes, Jerry, I peeked. 11%.

After that excitement, one could just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

All that red granite can mark a rancher's driveway.

One of the 20 some-odd cattle guards. If one's momentum was kept up the going wasn't too bad--as cattle guards go.

Happiness was getting to the finish line to chow down on the great after-ride cheeseburgers the sponsors provided. Great ride and support. Thanks to all the dozens of volunteers.
Not a bluebonnet, but still pretty. Maybe next year.