Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tour de Gap

Buffalo Gap
July 23, 2011
Bummer. Not the ride, the rider. But first...
Three hundred fifty three showed up for the annual Tour de Gap benefiting the Abilene Food Bank.  
As I was wandering around, I came across a few people from San Angelo. Rick Ogan. (Rick, I needed you at mile 5.81 when my front tire went flat--had to fix it myself--and with the help of Liz Rappe' and Christine. We managed, but I looked around for you first).
Velma Ogan
Shane Plymell--a local San Angelo racer. And a demon on the time trials.
Scott White. Another local racer and incidentally placed 6th in his age group. We will get him into the time trials before the season is over.
Brenda White. (Scott's mom). Brenda and her husband Chuck were regular riders on our group rides until they started a business that took up their spare time. Good to see you again, Brenda.
Before I could run across the other riders from San Angelo, it was line-up time. This was the front line of the 77 mile racers. Close up front were Chad Freeze, Scott, Shane, and adopted San Angeloean Lance Bowers.
The rest of us--52 milers, 27 and 11. In the crowd, I did not spot Gene Potter, Neal McSpedden, Brian Backlund or Marlon Miller (were your there?)
I did spot Rick and Velma in the line up. That was the last time I saw them until the finish line.
National Anthem was played by trumpeter Jose Gonzalez, and then
we were off. As mentioned, a little over 5 miles into the ride, my front tire went flat. By the time it was fixed, we were by ourselves in the pack. Oh well, we are used to it.
Second clue about how far behind we were: we started meeting the 27 milers on their return trip and rest stop two was still around the corner.
After rest stop two, we turned right onto highway 83. Nice that it was flat, as we--again--had a 12-15 mile an hour wind in our face. I actually stopped one time to see if my brakes were dragging since I was laboring and going slowly. Nope, my brakes were fine. It was just the rider.
Bradshaw, Texas always intrigued me, so I checked to see its story. Bradshaw was founded in 1909 with the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad. It prospered until improved highways in the 1930's made nearby Abilene, Texas, readily accessible. Bradshaw is now listed as one of the ghost towns of Texas.
Upon leaving the metropolitan area of Bradshaw, we hit the cross wind so the going was a little easier...for some.
I noticed a herd of longhorn cattle off to my left. I had time to take only one hasty shot. Missed the longhorns but kept the picture as it demonstrates the lack of rain we have been experiencing.

The temperature started soaring, so rest stop three tried to off set with the illusion of winter time.
Liz found a little seal pup, but it wouldn't fit into her saddle bag, so she left it on an ice berg.
Here comes the whining part. At about mile 25, I stood up to pump up a hill. I was just practicing as it was not a tough hill, but my legs immediately warned me that if I stood up again, they would not forgive me.
Although I did not stand up again, these little rollers would make my legs--and calves--rebel. About every two miles, my legs would start cramping and tying in knots. I would have to stop, stretch a while, and then head out again. Christine would hold up and wait for me at first, but when she saw it was not a passing phase, she took off to join up with Liz. Oh, the shame of it. By myself, hot, thirsty, cramping, I was determined to finish the last 20 miles--even in my wretched condition. (I wish I had a picture of my martyr stance, back of the hand on my forehead, other arm held out in a pleading stance, with a genuine woe-is-me look. But as mentioned, no one was even close to me to take such a picture, so one will just have to imagine it.)
And then I came upon this. Going down, my legs did not cramp at all!!
But then I had to go up. Yes this is a shot taken while having to push my bike uphill. In my short biking career, this was the second time I ever had to push a bike up a hill. Some how I am trying to rationalize that this one didn't count. The first time, the hill called Steamboat--incidentally Steamboat was just outside Buffalo Gap also--was just tougher than I was. But this one I have gone up several times in past rides. I may have slowed up quite a lot, but I always made it to the top under my own power. So I should be forgiven as I was in so much pain.  Forgiven--nah. Just whiny.
One trial after another. I had forgotten about the double whammy. But, once again, I did not cramp going down this hill.
But it was tough just pushing the bike up this hill. I was walking out the kinks in my legs, but my calves weren't having any fun.
The terrain apologized for my hardships and gave me a respite. Happily, once again I did not cramp--going downhill.
As the road was still going downhill somewhat, I was rolling too fast to react to get a good shot of a very neat ranch.
Dry, dry, dry...except for the mesquite trees.
Still going downhill somewhat. But, what goes down, must go up.
Cramp time again.
Who took the picture? Dan, the friendly SAG man caught up to me. Offered help, water, Gatorade--a ride to put me out of my misery?? All were declined, but I did let him take a picture of my attempts to placate my legs enough to continue.

I was going to use this ride as a gauge to see if I could finish the 52 miles in an equivalent time to get me to Hell's Gate before the cut off time at the Hotter'n Hell Hundred. Well, as one could tell, I did not finish in time to make the cut off. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have even made it to the Purgatory Gate if they had one.

Happiness is--
Extreme happiness is--
Exhilarating happiness is--people who patiently waited until I finished. Christine Jones, Velma and Rick Ogan, Liz Rappe', and Brian Backlund. Thank you.
One has been hearing about my problems on the ride. This is Chad Freeze, one of the San Angelo racers. At about mile 30, his bike went off the road--maybe with the help of another racer--. Chad was knocked out. He had staples on the other side of his head, scrapped arms and legs but at this moment, it appears nothing is broken. Except for his helmet.
Chad has just a little over four weeks to heal and get ready for the Hotter'n Hell Hundred. He is signed up for the elite pace group riders.

And another boo boo. The previous day, Christine and I were at the State Park on her second--AND LAST--mountain bike ride. Or at least so she says now. As she fell, she hit her chin on a rock. Her left fingers were jammed--now swollen, and fell on the scarred part of her leg from the hip replacement.
 It only hurts when she smiles.
As I rounded the corner at the State Park, I saw her sitting by the side of the trail, the bike down. I asked her if she were just waiting for me or did she fall? She said, "I fell, but I didn't break my fingernails."
Happiness is--.


  1. I'm noticing a full bottle of Gatorade on your bike and one other bottle. You mentioned that you declined Gatorade from the SAG man (all hail the SAG man - we wouldn't be here without him!) so I hope you had more than just water in that water bottle so you're taking in enough electrolytes.
    Christine has been on 2 more mountain bike rides than I'll ever do.
    Anyone riding those gaps is allowed to whine - some are just more allowed than others.

  2. Yeah, Christine had given me her extra water bottle at the last rest stop. Also, I got the Gatorade at the stop. I was determined to have enough liquid to get me 12 more miles.

    Dan offered me COLD water or Gatorade. He seemed to understand when I declined the liquid--and ride back in.

    My muscle problems didn't seem to scare him as we had talked about riding the Fort Davis Cyclefest with him. I hope we meet up with him as he was really great.

  3. Groan!!!! I hate leg cramps, bruises, stitches/staples, bleeding ears and all that. You guys are all guts and glory! The wedding weekend is over and well-done. I'm all played out. No bike riding here, only plane rides back and forth across the country. Home tomorrow and then on to Maine. About the birds: strings between buildings, spikes on horizontal planes,bird silhouettes on glass, and fake owls sitting on shattered mirrors. All these help.
    Greetings to Christine. Rosemary