Monday, May 28, 2012

Knickerbocker Combination

Saturday, May 26, Memorial Day Weekend. The route was going to be a combination of going to Knickerbocker, Tankersley, Guinn Road, and return to the "equalization bridge" staging area. Thirteen of us were to start at this point. Pictured left to right: Dara Jones, Jeremy Jones, Christine Jones (we are not kin to Dara and Jeremy although it would be nice), Eddie Trevino (in green), Connie Dunagan, Mike Blakeman, Brian Backlund, Rick Ogan, Velma Ogan, Donna Durbin, and David Durbin. 
After last weekend, I made it a point to call a ride on the flattest part of Tom Green County that I could find--and still have some scenery, that is. Shown: Velma Ogan and Mike Blakeman.
The ride allowed people to chose various distances: turn around whenever one wanted, 19,32,44,or 63 miles. And different riders opted for the different distances. Christine and Connie, for instance, rode out for 7 miles and turned around.
First leg of the ride accomplished: the little community of Knickerbocker.
 What I had failed to mention first off was that the wind was from the SSE at 19 with gusts up to 27 mph.
To be fair, this ride did indeed have parts that the wind was to our backs so all we had to do was endure the first half of the ride. David, Mike, and Eddie still plowing through the wind.
The start of Memorial Day weekend and the Dove Creek park had quite a few campers/picnickers already.
Close to the finish of the second leg: Tankersley.
Specks at the end are riders who arrived, turned around, and were waiting for the rest of us. Since Tankersley has vanished, the only evidence of such a community is the sign announcing the ghost town.
Arriving back at Knickerbocker to begin the third leg.
Jerry and Cindy Middleton joined the ride outside of their home on the Tankersley road. Jerry won the Pedal Pusher raffle and is sporting his jersey.
Cindy Middleton arrives at Knickerbocker.
Out Guinn Road the wind was still in our faces, and there were a few gentle rollers, but again, nothing like last weekend.
Guinn Road's gentle roller.
Jeremy demonstrates that the sun had broken through the clouds and is starting to heat up. My Garmin registered 102 degrees F on the ride. I believe it.
Mike Blakeman, Jerry, and Cindy Middleton strolling down Guinn Road.
Guinn Road turns into a dirt road marking our turn around point. Eddie, Velma, Mike, Dara, and Jeremy await the rest of us.
Jerry and Cindy round the last corner. Rick is not living dangerously without a helmet. He is testing Velma's bike as she was having trouble shifting.
After Rick fixed Velma's bike, Dara noticed her back tire flat so Rick was in the midst of helping her out. Eddie and Jeremy were helping also. Me? Someone has to hold the camera.
As Velma could now shift and Dara had air in her tires, both flew down the road.
Last regroup stop back at Knickerbocker again.

 Back at the start point. The wind had been at our backs most of the return trip, so our mph averages received a boost.
 Dara and Jeremy demonstrating proof that the sun indeed was shining Texas style.
 There are always a few in every crowd. We three, Eddie, Roy, and Mike, had decided to extend the ride and went back out toward Knickerbocker. The idea was to get in more miles before our local organized ride in a couple of weeks, and to get into shape for Hotter'N Hell Hundred this summer.
 This was would have continued to Knickerbocker. As I didn't want to come back up that hill again (it's 8% even though it doesn't look it) we decided to extend the ride by going on Lagoon Lane in the Dove Creek division. I had forgotten. There was an even worse hill on that Lane, so on the return trip I wasn't very popular. But, we got in our 60 miles which was our objective.

I had mentioned that Christine and Connie had gone out 7 miles and returned. That gave Christine time to SAG for the group. The extra water at the Knickerbocker stops were just what we needed. At the above hill where Eddie, Mike, and I turned around, I gave Christine the camera so she could take some "action" shots of us.
 Well, what does a woman do when she has the camera?
 Spends her time smelling the flowers, that's what.

 Final stretch of the ride. Great finish. Flat and wind to our backs. Only downhill would have made it better.
Mike and I cross the cattle guard to the parking area. Another satisfying ride with a lot of good company.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Real Ale Ride

 They don't call it Hill Country for nothing.
 On the way to Blanco Friday afternoon, we came in on the road to be used for the ride's return route. I wanted to take a picture of an example of some of the hills.
As I found out the next day, the return route was the tame part of the ride. My Garmin showed ten 5% hills, three hills over 10%, and an uncountable number of 2-3-4%. And that was the first 13 miles of the ride to the first rest stop!! 
 Saturday morning right before the starting line up was the preparatory line up. But there were enough facilities to allow us to get to the start line in plenty of time.
 There were over 1,300 riders that signed up. Everyone in front of the two orange flags were the 85 mile riders. The riders off-to-the-side were also 85'ers who just merged upon the kick off. I was back with the 65 milers and Christine was going to do a modest 50 miles. 
Someone in the line up behind me, and who had ridden the ride before, remarked that the first two miles were the easiest of the ride. He was right.
 Almost immediately after two miles we started into the "gnat" hills. Gnat hills are small, less than 5%, that just worry you and wear you down.
 Some were larger than gnats, if one squints his eyes, one can see that the road leads up the hill into the clouds.
 ...and on and on...

 Finally a downhill--not much--but enough to stop pedaling for a while.
Not sure if this hill was another of our 10+% ones, but they were there somewhere.

 A few miles back down the road, I thought that rest stop 3 should be coming up soon--at least it felt like it should. But this was rest stop 1 at mile 13. Again, if one squints, the long line was not for the food or drink. I took the picture, hopped back on the bike and left. I didn't want to spend 30 precious minutes in line.
 I don't remember any flat stretches but here is a picture, so there was one.
 Our wildflowers are starting to thin out, but what is interesting if one looks closely, the grass is bent over from the wind. I have been so busy whining about the hills I forgot to mention the 16 mile an hour wind in our face.
 Hill country beauty took some of the sting of the ride out. The clear spring water was awfully tempting as the temperature was starting to warm up. The indentations on the right looked like a giant's footprint.
 Refreshing after last year's drought.

 Another "good" hill coming up.
 About mile 18, I noticed that my left shoe was feeling funny. Then as I pulled up on an upstroke, my foot came off the pedal and I heard a clink. I had lost my cleat. I back tracked and found the main part of the cleat and one screw. I put it back onto the shoe but discovered it would not clip in as the little metal part on the top was missing. I was down to 1 1/2 leg power. And how many miles of hills--and wind--to go? Let's see, 18 from 65 is--no way. I called Christine and told her I was joining her on the 50 mile route and that I would just wait for her at the next rest stop.
 Buzzards, leave me alone. I was down but not out. I could still limp my way back to the finish line.
From this angle, the hill does not look like much. However, the first person in the picture is pushing the bike at the 6% marker. The second person pushing is at the 11% grade. I was looking forward to the downhill but it was one of those small dips and then--"Oh heck!" There were people pushing bikes all over the hill. A person beside me stopped about 3/4 up the hill and remarked, "Maybe an hour and a half ago, but not now." I glanced down at my Garmin and said, "It is registering 16%." About then the incline increased again and I just held on for dear life. I dared not glance down again as it was taking all of my concentration to keep pedaling. And remember--I had only one clip. My left leg could only push.

After I downloaded the Real Ale ride, the Garmin showed that the hill hit 17%. Now I know how Rick, Brian, Marlon, and others from San Angelo felt as they raced up the Davis Mountains' Mount Locke race at 17% grade. If my 17% were another 20 yards, my story would have been a little different from "I made it!!"

The redeeming part of the hill for Christine was the downhill after the crest. She hit over 47 mph.

Me? I was hitting my brakes so hard that I was almost doing reverse wheelies. I kept my speed down to 37 mph. 
 Finally we turned onto the last leg which contained the "gentle" rolling hills that we took the picture of the previous day.

 The hill country did have nice scenery.

 Last hill. At the top of the picture we turned right to go to the Real Ale Brewery where the ride originated. Once again, it doesn't look like much, but it turned out to be a 5% grade.
 Christine crosses the finish line.
 Think the smile is because she finished?
 Nope, they had BBQ sandwiches and
If anyone is looking for a tough ride, beautiful scenery, good food, and excellent beer (so Christine said), the Real Ale Ride is for you.