Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Decatur Eighter

Decatur, Texas
August 2, 2014
Eighter? Because it is in August--the 8th month? Because there are eight routes? I couldn't figure out this strange name for a ride. That is because I am not a gambler. "Eighter from Decatur, county seat of Wise” is the slang of craps shooters who want to roll an eight. Note the die with the 4 showing. And Decatur is in Wise County. Duh. I should have known all of that.
I only discovered the Decatur ride as a result of the Hobbs, New Mexico ride cancellation, so I searched for an alternative. Did I ever find a good one. It was an exact opposite of Hobbs. Hobbs is flat and in the desert. Decatur is a roller coaster ride with trees, green pastures, and for the most part, excellent roads.

Although this was just the "2nd Annual," over 300 riders showed up. We had three routes, an 8 mile (who would have ever guessed), a 25, and a 55 mile course. 
 Before the ride, once again I figured I had better get a picture of Brian Backlund from San Angelo as I might not see him until after the ride. Again, I was right. Brian rode with the fast guys. My goal was to finish the ride on my own power,
Christine was going to do the 25 mile ride so I might not see her until afterwards also.
As I was taking everyone's pictures, a friendly guy offered to take a shot of us. Thanks.
The start was mostly a series of downhill slopes with just a few inclines. I assumed we were headed down to a river. Nope, the road was just throwing you off guard and luring you on. 
There were a lot of "tunnels" on the ride due to overhanging tree limbs. There was a long tunnel just before the first rest stop that Christine griped at me for not getting a picture, but she had forgotten that it was at the bottom of a steep decline and I was hanging onto the handle bars, not turning loose to take a snap shot.  
Nice house with a great gate entrance.
Still going down. Another tunnel is at the bottom of the decline.
Arrows going both ways? Hard to see but the number on the left hand side of the road was keeping the 25 milers going the correct direction. They did an out and back. 
The 25 mile turn around was at the first rest stop, so of course it was at mile 12.5. I did see Christine at this stop but our conversation was centered around my not getting a shot of the long scenic tunnel just before the rest stop.  
The 55 mile group started into the never-ending series of rollers. The good part was that we never hit a 10% grade on the whole route. Maybe a bunch of 8's, but no grinders.
Just a heads up to new riders next year. Remember my mentioning that reaching the first rest stop seemed to be mostly downhill? Well, guess what the return trip was.  

But we, the 55 milers, continued on our scenic route. 
As we topped one hill, there was a group of people farther down the slope. We knew it wasn't time for another rest stop so we figured it must be an accident. And it was. The ambulance had already retrieved the rider who crashed. The man on the right was alerting us of a huge trench/gash in the road ahead and to get over into the left lane. Brian's group was just behind the rider who hit the gash and was unconscious as Brian rode past. There was no further news of his condition. We wish him well. Update: He banged his head pretty hard but is recovering.
One of the few "level" stretches after rest stop 1.
Good scenery. Green pastures. Good ride. 

 This was a good downhill. After the curve at the bottom of the picture, it kept going down. It was one of those stretches when I apply the brakes to keep me in control of the bike. (Christine is fearless and never hits the brakes. She scares me on downhill's). 
 Next year I will have to keep count of how many "tunnels" there are on the route.
 The cow and calves had a ring side seat to watch the riders go by. They even had a natural umbrella to keep them comfortable.
 I have seen many silos, but none like these. I bet the farmer is a lot of fun to be around.
 We had left the smooth roads. This one was like our roads at home. One would assume we take the left turn ahead--nope--go straight to an even rougher road.
 The nice part about this stretch was the abundance of shade. Of note, the "rough" part of the ride was 17 miles.
 Besides the shade, there were still plenty of inclines to keep ones mind off of the chip seal.

 This was assumed to be a private lake as I saw no signs or roads leading to the lakeside.
 Runner up on pretty houses along the way.

 Edge of town. Ride is about over.
 Finish line in sight. Inside the finish bracket, Boy Scouts were lined up cheering the finishing riders.
 Food awaited all the riders after the ride. They had hot dogs, hamburgers, and chopped brisket. I had a brisket plate the night before so I chose a hot dog. It hit the spot.
 And, hitting the spot. The hotel had a hot tub that really helped our tired muscles. Note there were so many restrictions as to what I could publish that you can barely tell Christine and Brian were in the spa.
 Later, a trip downtown rewarded us with a beautiful courthouse. The lower floors were built of rough and polished Texas red granite. The upper, ornately carved areas may have been of red sandstone. Our little camera cannot do justice to the beauty of the carvings.
 Modern courthouses can not hold a light to the ornate structures of old.

 0n the way back to the hotel, a really nice house caught our eyes. Had to have a picture.
Remember the Boy Scouts at the finish line? They gave each rider a commemorative medallion of the ride. Yep, we have found another "keeper" ride.  

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