Sunday, April 29, 2012

Colorado River Bikefest

 Ballinger, Texas April 28, 2012
The Colorado River Bikefest is another good ride close to San Angelo. As such, we had a respectable turn out from San Angelo.
 Chad Freeze. Placed 2nd in the 100K race.
 Liz Rappe'. 3rd place women's 60K.
 Eddie Trevino. He and I are "practicing" for the 100 mile ride at Hotter'n Hell Hundred this year. Good luck to both of us. Right now we need it. 
 Rick and Velma Ogan. Velma place 2nd in the women's 60K. Rick rode with us thereby eliminating all chances of his placing in the 100K.
 Same with Brian Backlund. He rode with our group eliminating him from any formal recognition. (I will explain later why I am pointing out the winners of the various categories early in the ride write up).
 Christine Jones. Honorable mention, 4th place women's 60K.
 Janis Potter and Gene Gomez from San Angelo. I couldn't find a picture of Gene Potter but I know he was there somewhere.
 Francis and Loyd Evans. Loyd rides the Monday/Wednesday afternoon rides with the group.
 Gary Walker. Vice-prez of the club this year.
 And it was time for the line up.
 A fair size crowd showed up this year. On the left in a red/black jersey is Mike Blakeman, also a regular in our group rides. Christine is of course back center stage.
Our plan was to form a pace line as we knew the first 25 miles would have wind in our face. Shown: Eddie, Liz, and Mike. 
 Later, the third person in the line joined us as we would pass him, then he would us, back and forth until he asked if he could just join us. Of course, it was a social ride.
 Yes, I did take my turn at pulling. Jesse, front, was behind me so I must have just dropped back.
 This is the Concho river rather than the Colorado River. We crossed the Colorado river when we came back into Ballinger. However, it was not safe to take a picture of the river at that time as the bridge is almost downtown, and the Saturday traffic does not like to slow down through the city.
 Court house, county seat, Paint Rock, Texas, population 320. But Paint Rock is best known for its Indian pictographs painted on cliffs overlooking the Concho River which we crossed a little earlier. The pictographs cover nearly a half mile and include animals, human figures, and hand prints.
 Rick, 2nd from the lead, and Brian, 3rd, were at rest stop #1 when we passed. They had assumed we would stop. When we didn't, Brian immediately joined us. Later Rick decided he would join us also. In a few miles, Rick caught up to us which tells you two things: how fast he is and how fast we were going into the wind.
 At Rest stop #2, we did stop (mile 25). It was at the intersection where we turned off of Highway 83 to go toward Eola, Texas. Pictured, Brian, Eddie, Rick, and Jesse.
 We thought the 13 miles to Eola would be a nice crosswind, and we could pick up some speed. Ha. In your face crosswind.
 So back to the pace line trying to find the sweet spot. From the air, we probably looked like a snake crawling on the road weaving back and forth trying to find the draft.
 Finally Eola.
 The back of the church in Eola where Christine and I attend. Why do we drive 24 miles to church in a small town--long story.
 Rest stop #3 at the Eola intersection. Pictured are Brian, Rick, Jesse, and our friendly hostess trying to get all of us to eat something. Did we look that bad?
 Long ago, Eola had its own school. Now the school is part museum, a restaurant, and the owner brews his own beer. It's pretty good, too.
 For the first 38 miles, not only were we in the wind as mentioned, but we were constantly climbing long, small hills and increasing elevation. As we turned from Eola heading back toward Ballinger, one would think we would start downhill. Not in Texas. Climb does not always lead to descent. However, this 13 mile relatively flat stretch was WITH the wind. Our speed  picked up (from 20-28 mph) and helped to make our mph average respectable.
 If the wind, heat, and hills had not taken its toll, this was the coup de grace. The Lowake steakhouse (yes, way out close to nowhere) is famous for its steaks. People come from all over to dine--the Lowake steakhouse even has its own airstrip for small planeloads of folks to "drop" in for a nice, big juicy steak.
 And this was the rest stop just up the road from the steakhouse. We could still smell the grilling steaks. It was tempting to quit the ride, have a steak, and call our wives for a SAG.
 But, being hard core bikers, we struck out again and headed down Highway 67 back to Ballinger. Thank goodness it is a four lane highway. The frontage road is horrible, and the shoulder is "horribler".
 The end in sight. The large tree on the right marked the finish line.
 Tired, hot, still thinking about that steak-- the "we finished" crew.
Jesse relaxing with Velma and Liz. Well earned rest.

Now Christine had the extra camera and was to take pictures of people, events, terrain that I would miss since I would still be out on the road. For instance, pictures of the race winners, etc.

 Chad, 2nd place 100K.

Lady from Haskell, Texas, 1st place, Velma, 2nd place, Liz, 3d place women's 60K.

The above is why I announced the winners early in the write up. Christine was taking snap shots in the movie mode! That doesn't work well. You get neither a movie nor a snap shot.

Somewhere in Christine's "movies" is Jerry Middleton, 2nd place men's 30K. Good going Jerry. I know there were wind and hills on that ride also.

All right. Bastante, assez, basta! This is Christine. Roy has had his big laugh at my expense. Let me show you some of the photos he took but would not let people otherwise know about.

Just as the old saying goes, "SHE who laughs last, laughs best".

Friday, April 20, 2012

Burma Loop

 Forecast cloudy, mid 70's, and wind from the south at 25-35 mph. Perfect training day--for what I am unsure unless it is for the Ballinger ride coming up soon. So a few of us chose to brave the wind and ride what is called the Burma Loop. Pictured are Rick, Velma, Loyd, Eddie, Curtis, Jesse, and Brian. Christine decided to go on a shortened route as she didn't want to fight the wind for as many miles as we were.
 At the start, we spread out a bit. Later as the wind started taking its toll, Rick formed us into a pace line.
 Regroup stop #1. Loyd had decided to take a shorter route also. Unknown at the time, Jesse had dropped his chain back on one of the hills. He rolled up shortly and then he too decided to take a shorter ride. That left the six of us to tackle the remainder of the ride.
 Pictured is the start of S. Burma Road and is an example of deceiving looks. One thinks, "Ah, a flat road until the small hump up ahead." Well, it starts flat, goes to 1% for a 10th of a mile, goes to 2%for 2/10ths mile, 3% for 3/10ths mile, and then 4% to get over the hump.
 The "hump" gets one warmed up as the "humps" become more frequent.
 And then the humps begin to get a little taller. Before getting to N. Burma Road, we go over two "humps" that range from 13-15% grade.  

 All who ride in the Texas winds know that the wind is in your face whether you are going N, S, or E, and W is a cross wind. This ride was no different. During the tougher parts Rick lined us up in a pace line again. That worked until the last part of the ride. Some of us (me) tired, Brian had a flat although most us did not know it until we got to the Grape Creek convenience store and Brian and Curtis were nowhere to be seen. Anyway, we had started to spread out and fight the wind on our on.
 I always like the Bison relief on the retainer wall near the State Park. First, I like the bison in the park. Second, it means that we are about 2 miles from finishing the ride.

 This is one of the last two miles. Still overcast as predicted. But what I really wanted to capture was the mesquite trees bending over in deference to the wind. One of these days when I remember it, I will try to take a short "movie" of the wind making the mesquites and other vegetation do the limbo dance.  
 The last of the two miles. The water tower is a beacon of  hope and encouragement.
 On the home stretch. Turn the corner and you are at the parking lot.
 Well, almost.
 We "survived the ride" podium pose.
A great endurance and dedication ride. Endurance just pedaling against that wind. Dedication because we all chose to ride on this day rather than sleep in.