Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Honey Tour

 Honey Tour
May 23, 2015
Burleson, Texas 
 Three of us from San Angelo, Christine Jones, Brian Backlund, and I, traveled to Burleson, a nice city just below Fort Worth.  
 Line up for an 8 a.m. start. 
 It wasn't really that cold, Christine just likes to play it safe. Among other things the jacket is water proof and rain (thunder storms) is in the forecast.
 I stepped out of the line up for this picture. I would estimate over 1,200 were in attendance.
 And this was the crowd behind us. Note way in the distance, more riders were coming from the parking lot to get into line. Take off was staggered and it reminded me of HHH start. One foot clipped in and the other pushed and scooted the bike along. 
 Eventually we began the ride. We stretched out for miles. 
 The scenery was great. Ahead was a nice tree tunnel.
 Brian picked up a sliver of glass and had a flat. He was in good company because at least 30 people for a 2-3 mile stretch were fixing flats. I had not seen as many flats since several years ago when riders at the 4th rest stop at HHH rolled their bikes into the "grass" and picked up goat heads and other stickers. On this ride everyone was complaining about glass on the road--perhaps washed on the road by recent rains.  
 While Brian was fixing his flat, I watched people zip past as we were on a fair decline. While on the topic of flats, when we got back home I checked out our tires and I found a sliver of glass in my front tire--but it did not puncture my tube. Some years back I put RhinoDillos in our tires. Neither Christine nor I have had a puncture flat since then. Our flats are tube seam splits and valve tears.  
 And speaking of Christine, I spotted a person hunkered down Christine-style to get the most out of a decline. Sure enough it was she. She didn't (wouldn't) stop and just yelled that she would wait for us at the rest stop. Thanks for your support.
 We continued on a slight decline so I figured we were headed toward a river. I was correct, and if the terrain goes down toward a river, it goes up after. One really can't complain (or brag) about the Burleson area hills. None registered over 6% on my Garmin.
 Rest stop. They had enough goodies and such a variety that one could just stay there and eat lunch. 
 Christine did wait for us and Brian was still disappointed over the flat. But on another shout out for the ride and support volunteers, a bicycle shop representative "traded" a new tube for Brian's punctured one. I am not sure if he traded with the other 29 riders but he gets four stars from us.
 Headed toward another slight incline. Not to worry. 
As I recall this was the community of Briaroaks.
 Hay bundles in a field that looks as if it could be harvested for a second crop.
 The shots would make one believe that this was another "Waller" ride; flat and good roads. That was not the case. Good roads yes, but the course reminded me of the local ride of Door Key Road where we practice "rolling hills" of 4-6% grade.   
 The hilly ride is best described by Brian's average mph on this ride which was a few notches down from his impressive "flat" Waller ride.  
 Another tree tunnel.
 As stated: good roads and great scenery.  
 When I downloaded the pictures, at first I thought I took two of the same thing. Then noted that the trees on the left are different from above.
 If I had stopped, this would have been a nice picture of a stretch of yellow flowers. Interesting that with all the rain we have had this year, I have yet to see blue bonnets on any of our rides.
 Final leg of the ride. Finish line at the middle building.
 Satisfied looks for at least three reasons: The tour had chicken sandwiches, drinks, and goodies for the riders after the ride. We had good roads, and great scenery on our ride. Although thunderstorms were forecast for the day, we were only rained on at the finish of the ride and it wasn't all that heavy or long lasting. We really got a break on the weather as this was the weekend that Texas had all of the flooding that made national news.
Will we return for future Honey Tours? You bet.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tour de RACHA

May 9, 2015
Waller, Texas
(RACHA--Ride Against Child Abuse)
Start time was 7:30 a.m. One year they started at 7 and must have received a lot of negative feedback. Now the only ride that starts at 7 that I am aware of is the Hotter'n Hell Hundred in August.
The event organizers announced that they had over 200 riders this year. There are two ways to determine the body count--number of paid participants or just count the people who go to the portable potties.
Brian Backlund from San Angelo attended and had a great ride (more later).
Christine was full of adrenaline and completed her longest ride of the year.
And, of course, I showed up. "Showed up" is very descriptive of my ride.
Start line up. Riders had a choice of 26, 48, or 62 miles. Brian and I were going to do the 48, and Christine was going to see how she felt at the first rest stop as to whether she would go 26 or try the 48.
This is an example of why I was excited to try this ride. The organizers had stated that it was mostly flat with a few rollers.
Waller, close to Houston, indeed was mostly flat. It reminded me of the flat Hobbs, New Mexico ride--but with trees and green grass.
Not sure what mile this was but Christine was still full of fire.
Good scenery all the way.
If one squints his eyes or enlarges the picture, there are some beautiful white water lilies on the pond.

Brian at rest stop 1. He had to wait and wait for Christine and me to get there. He was having a great ride.
Spanish moss in the trees.
Christine was still doing fine and decided to go the 48 miles.
Historical church at the rest stop.
Well, I have mentioned that Brian and Christine were going on the 48 mile route. I chose the 26. At rest stop 1 which was only 12 miles from the start line, my left lower leg was hurting and felt like it was going to freeze up and cramp. My latest malady is that I am being evaluated for a possible herniated disk. I can't walk or stand without being an "8" in pain. The good part is that it is not so painful when I sit. Therefore I can still ride.
The live oak blight that we have seen all over Texas has hit this area also.
But they sure have some great pine trees.
Since I was only going to do the 26 miles, I slowed down my pace and just enjoyed the scenery. At the slower pace, my leg stopped hurting so it turned out to be a great ride.
I was admiring the pretty trees on the right. I asked a person who was riding beside me what kind of trees they were. The answer I got was "trimmed." Duh. Must have been an out-of-towner like me. (Editor's note: They are brutally trimmed crepe myrtle bushes.)
A military person from hilly east Tennessee who rides with us in San Angelo stated that the bad thing about a flat course is that you have to pedal all the time. No resting while coasting down hill.
George Kendall, an 1840s journalist, considered the climate of Texas so healthy that he wrote, "If a man wants to die here he must go somewhere else."
Later, Tanya Tucker, a country and western singer followed up with
"When I die I may not go to Heaven.
Well, I don't know if they let cowboys in,
If they don't just let me go to Texas, boy,
'Cause Texas is as close as I've been."

I think the cows would agree with all of the above. Grass was so tall they could eat lying down.
And the crops in this area echoed William Bollaert (1840s) when he claimed Texas was so rich that "if you plant tenpenny nails, you'll have a crop of iron bolts." Kendall and Bollaert both sound like true Texans.
There were lots of flowers along the way but I never did spot a blue bonnet.
Indian Blanket flower
Thistle flower. 
Brown-eye Susan

All too soon we were back in "civilization" and close to the finish line.
 Christine enjoyed finishing her longest ride of the year. (Editor's note: One fourth of our ride had a 20 mph wind to our backs.)
Brian had one of his fastest averages this year. Maybe partly because a dog chased him. He was concentrating on the dog and missed his route turn. So he went on a 55 mile ride as he had to back track to the designated route. (Chased again as he doubled back).
I finished my route without mishap. I am looking forward to getting whatever is wrong with my body fixed and try the ride again next year. Both Brian and Christine said there were some rollers on their route. Neither complained, so it must not have been too steep or long. I can't wait to find out for myself so we will be putting this ride down on our calendar for a repeat next year.