July 9, 2011
Weatherford was holding its annual peach festival on Saturday so we drove downtown before everything was closed off.
This peaceful scene would change within 24 hours. Last year some 35,000 people packed into this area to enjoy the activities.
And speaking of packed. See the car lights off to the left. They were waiting to turn into the Weatherford High School parking lot, while we were backed up to turn left to the lot. It turned out that some 1,800 riders showed up, and it seemed like one rider to a vehicle.
Luckily we found a parking spot without too much trouble. Just as I wondered how we would ever find Brian Backlund, also from San Angelo, up he rode. He had arrived much earlier and found a place on the other side of the school.
Christine and Brian filling the void left by the 100K racers. It was a 15 minute staggered start behind Chad Freeze from San Angelo and the other racers. I never heard a count, but the racers took about 10 minutes for all of them to start. We started with the laid back crowd.
We, however, were not short-changed on our start ceremonies. The Sons of the Confederacy member on the horse gave the command for the riflemen to fire into the air.
And off we went.
I had the camera all ready to take shots of the peach orchards. In the past, we had traveled only through Weatherford on I-20 and have never seen orchards in the area. We didn't this day either. This pecan grove is the only "orchard" I saw on the route. Christine was assured by a local that peach orchards are all over the county.
The short story of the ride is 40 miles of 3-6% grade rollers with two 8% hills. The racers had 62 miles of rollers. But we will continue with the ride narrative anyway.
after another hill. Brian prepares for this hill with a slug of power juice.
First rest stop did not attract a lot of riders as it was only about 6 miles out. But we were on the ride for peaches and cookies so--so what if it were only 6 miles. If anyone has the time to enlage the picture, look at the helmet of the fourth rider from the left. He is a typical "Mad Duck" rider out of Grapevine, TX. They will attend several organized rides, but one can see them in full force at the Hotter'n Hell Hundred in August.
And more hills.
Every once in a while we would hit a flat area with some good shade trees.
The kit of the ride award. A definite
It said WHAT?
And the neat farm of the day award.
If one looks hard enough, one can see we were approaching a drop off. I rarely take pictures while going downhill as the stability is not the greatest.
We were gliding downhill to reach the river bed. The Brazos does not look too healthy at this spot, but there are some obvious water spots somewhere as we saw a lot of BIG catfish heads on fences.
This shot is deceiving in that we were coming up from the river bottom and it continued up as we rounded the curve. Eventually, this turned out to be our 8% hill.
So the event directors took pity upon us and put a rest stop at the top of the hill. This rest stop was well attended.
"Hill-what hill?" Show-out Christine patiently waited for me at each rest stop. If it weren't for rest stops, I wouldn't see Chris from the start line to the finish.
And just to prove the point, Christine is putting distance between us. Give her a downhill and wave good-bye.
This road had a great surface. Surprizing since it parrelled I-20 and TXDOT generally puts chunky chip seal on isolated frontage roads. But the whole ride was on excellent surfaces. OK, maybe there were some stretches of road like we have around San Angelo, but overall, very smooth roads.
The frontage road had its share of rollers, but it kept your mind off the fact that the sun was beginning to beat down on us.
Yes, this was another rest stop with outstanding fresh peaches, cookies, and other-stuff, but what was making Brian smile so much? What can't be easily seen is that this tent had a series of water hoses that provided a fine, cooling mist. Now for another peach.
After the short parallel of I-20, we went back on country roads--with shade trees.
Another good thing about laid back rides. If you see a good shady spot. Stop.
The apparent bunching up of riders at this point is that others discovered some shade trees and decided to stop. It is a tour. If someone beats you to the finish line--so what?
But speaking of finish lines, Christine spots the High School which signifies the finish line.
Christine surges ahead (because Brian came back to check on me). The goal is in sight.
And the flag marked the finish line and the end of the ride. Thanks Weatherford, it was one PEACH of a ride.