Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tour the Peanut Country

 Tour the Peanut Country
Gorman, Texas
July 19, 2014
This was Gorman's 13th Annual bike ride but the first time we have attended. Never knew until this past weekend what we were missing.
 As we were off loading our bikes, I thought I had better take a picture of Christine as she was going on a different route than I was, and therefore, we might not see each other until after my ride.
 Riders had four routes to choose from: 9 miles, 26, 45, or 100K. Christine was going to do the 26, and I was heading out for the 45. Riders visited or just warmed up before line-up time. It was a little chilly and overcast, little wind--almost perfect riding weather.  
 When it was time to line up, way in front were the eager 100k riders. Spaced back a bit were the laid back 100K group. In all, I would estimate between 70-80 riders came out for the event. 
 At the start, I was part of a pace line. They traveled at a pretty good clip, and we had well over a 17 mph average going.
 But, anyone who has read any of our blogs, or have ridden with me knows what happened next. As we hit the first series of hill, I was what they call "off the back." The little dots starting the next incline had been "my" pace line.
 This was a different hill. Point is, where were the other riders?
 Even on a straight stretch, it appeared that I was riding a solo tour. My strategy was to be able to just look around at the country side without worrying about running into other riders or having to pull for anyone. Strategy was working.
 The 45 mile course was a series of gently, rolling hills, and as one could tell from this and the other pictures, there were no tough monster hills on the route.
 And the roads were above average.
 The two ladies shown were from Abilene. They would not be able to attend the near-by Buffalo Gap tour this coming weekend as their husbands were to participate in the Cheyenne, Wyoming rodeo. We wished them good luck.  
I kept looking for peanut fields (this was Tour the Peanut Country), but all I saw were hay fields and fat cattle. Actually, the only way I would recognize a peanut plant would be if the farmer placed a sign on his fence stating "This is a peanut field." But, I understand that even though Gorman was once labeled the Peanut Capital of Texas, most production has moved to the Brownfield, TX area. Gorman just celebrates their once prominent status.  
Alternating flat lands and hills were the theme of the day. 
 As I recall, this gentleman was from the Fort Worth area. As with the Abilene ladies, when one takes turns passing each other, one gets to know each other. Riders are for the most part very friendly people.
 One of the highlights of the tour--Carbon, Texas--population 224.
 Me in front of the City Hall of Carbon, Texas. I asked the men at the rest stop across the street if the building was for real. "Yes, that is our City Hall".
 A right turn on to Highway 6 marked the last leg of the tour.
 Highway 6 continues the series of rolling (got to put in the various tour directors standard words)--"gently rolling hills".
 And then back into Gorman proper.
 Off to the side was a well maintained, non-functioning train depot. How did I know it is non-functioning? The train tracks that crossed the street were paved over.
Volunteers at the finish line--and start line. Speaking of volunteers, Gorman has a great group of volunteers for the rest stops as well as the Volunteer Fire Department that provided safety--and sag if needed.
I found a good shade to bide my time after the ride. As Christine took the shorter route, she finished well ahead of me and went back to our hotel room in Eastland, Texas to soak in a hot bubble bath. Next year, I may not have to wait for her to come back for me as one of the volunteers told me that next year they would have showers available for out of town riders to refresh before their trips back home. The Gorman tour just keeps getting better and better. Pretty soon, it just may not be one of the best kept secrets of outstanding rides.

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