Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tour D'Italia

Italy, Texas
June 15, 2013
As we have mentioned before, part of the fun of organized rides is getting to the location and back. We made our annual stop at Doc's Dr. Pepper store in Dublin but this time I had a root beer float. It was great. Statue is Bill Kloster, long term manager of the Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant.
We are intrigued by the old ornate courthouses. The above is in Meridian, Texas. 
A little way down the road is the courthouse in Hillsboro, Texas.
Outside one corner of the Hillsboro courthouse is a statue honoring the Confederate soldiers from the area.
Long ago, filling stations had a reputation for fast personal service by service attendants. These folks are still waiting.
Not only would a service station go out of business, but the customers would just abandon you and everything else.
On a serious note, sunflower crops are abundant from Avalon, Texas, to farms around Italy, Texas. Among the uses of sunflowers is a source of high quality vegetable oil with the extracted meal utilized as a protein source in livestock feed.
"Detour, there's a muddy road ahead" proclaims a country western song that may have been so long ago that many have not heard the song. Besides a muddy road, this road has a bridge that has seen its last flood. 
Other bridges in Ellis County were damaged by a 2004 flood. I wish we had stopped in the next town and talked to locals about the bridge. I am sure there are some interesting stories that go along with the incident.
Besides the sunflower crops, the corn fields were mighty healthy. The stalks were way over my height. What was impressive also was that most of the fields that we saw were not irrigated! So that is where our rains have been going.
Saturday morning line up.
The event organizers anticipated over 1,200 riders.
There was one familiar face among the crowd.
There is a reason for showing the vast amount of riders which will be revealed later.
And off we go. Riders had the choice of 12, 30, 40, 50, or 63 miles. Christine and I were planning on the 50 mile ride.
Sunflower fields grace our ride. And a hint to anyone on the route: the shoulder was smooth and the road very much chip seal.
Upon turning off highway 34, we had no choice but the main road. The weather was nice with a hint of overcast which kept the temperature reasonable.
I wish the cattle were a little closer so one could see how fat and healthy they were.
It may be hard to discern, but we finally started into the "gently rolling hills". The upcoming hill was a 5% grade. I know because I heard some one behind me griping about the gentle hill and when I glanced at my Garmin, it was at 5%.
But really, who could gripe with the abundant, placid scenes?
This photo serves two purposes. One, another upcoming gently rolling hill, and two, my choice of the kit for the day. Her bicycle was also adorned with pink appointments.
Not that the hills were really tough, it is just that one tends to wear down with hill after hill. However, to every one's credit, no one started to SAG at this point. Later, yes, but I think I spotted the first person at about 40 miles. We weren't even at 20 yet.
We rolled through a little town called Blooming Grove, so I took a shot at their blooms.
Rest stop at the 20 mile mark. Both Christine and I had skipped the first stop, although I did not know she did until I rolled in and there she was waiting for me. Yes, right after the start she dropped me.
 Fresh from the rest stop, I was able to keep up with her--for a while.
 Remember, I said I had a reason for showing so many riders at the start line? Well, if I hadn't, one would get the impression I was the only rider on the 50 mile route. Yes, Christine (and others) had dropped me again.
Two welcome signs. Another rest stop and the sign that said Italy was only 23 miles away.
Navarro Mills was a pleasant rest stop nestled in a circle just off the highway. To the left is a nice lake which, if I am not mistaken, was the home of the 4.56 lb State Record White Crappie (fish). However, the most frequent comment I heard regarding the lake was "I would like to jump in." Our overcast was gone and the sun was starting to shine on sunny Italy.
 Along this stretch we seemed to be on a plateau, as we had mile after mile of relatively flat terrain.
Our last rest stop was at the crossroads where the 40, 50, and 63 mile riders joined for the final leg.
To be fair and balanced, I had to include a shot of a decline. Not all of the ride was uphill.
If one is ready for the ride to end, the Italy city limits sign should be encouraging. 
This is still within the city limits. They must have the "Field of Dreams" philosophy, extend your boundaries and they will come. 
Finish line. In front of the white truck is Christine patiently waiting for me. Part of my grousing comes from a comparison of last year's ride to this year. Last year I did the 63 mile ride and had a 2 1/2 mph higher average than this year. However, my spirits rose as we enjoyed a nice hamburger at the school cafeteria and then a nice shower in the school gym.

Trials and tribulations over, Christine is already talking about going back next year, and I am talking about re-establishing my mph average. (Christine keeps telling me to be patient with my recovery, but I want it NOW!)


  1. I'll have to do that ride sometime. We must go thru Italy at least once a month on the way to Dallas.
    Hang in there, at our age recovery dorsn't come as fast as it used to -- but it does come.

    1. I think you would enjoy the ride, and the volunteers are great.

      It is so frustrating. It has been 9 months since my hip replacement and I haven't regained hill climbing power nor speed. I will just shoot for the 100K at HHH this year and be patient.

  2. Roy, you are amazing! Most folks with hip replacements don't ever get back on a bike, let alone do long rides like you do. I liked the photos of the old buildings and the neat names of the towns (Dublin, Italy). Good post. Greetings to Christine.