Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Susan Peak

 Susan Peak Road
June 13, 2017
San Angelo, Texas 
 I wanted to prepare for an upcoming tour in Illinois. Christine and I have ridden the Z Tour out of Princeton, Illinois once before and found that there is more to Illinois than flat corn fields. It has its share of hills also.
 So Christine, Brian, and I went on a training ride. Although we cannot match the scenery or humidity, we chose a route that would provide us with hills matching most tours--6 to14%.
 If one starts at the Walling Pecan and Susan Peak intersection, one finds that Susan Peak provides a very interesting 18 miles out before it is gated off from further traffic.
  Occasionally, there are flat stretches and downhills that allow one to rest up for the next hill. 
 The rock quarry off to the right marks the beginning of the most "interesting" part of the ride.
 The road curves up cresting at about 11%.
 Then the road goes up again into a 14% grade. Once again, the camera just cannot capture the drama of a hill.
 But after the climb, we get to go downhill for a respectable distance. 
 Then more rollers. 
 This long stretch alerts one that the end is coming up soon. 
 The same stretch of road? No, at the peak of the above photo, the road once again goes into a long lane.  
 The end of the 18 mile ride. After the first out and back, Christine decided 36 miles were enough. Brian decided to do a loop similar to our routine Wednesday ride, so the next out-and-back was by myself.
I took this at the end of the road on my second out and back. I had 55.25 miles so the 18 back would make me 73 miles. I decided that when I got back to the car I would go 2 more miles making the ride 75 miles which is longer than the upcoming Illinois ride. And could I make it? Hard to see, but my control panel indicated that I could go 24 more miles at "Normal" power and at the same speed that I had been going. I love my bike! 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tour de Agua

Tour de Agua
Dublin, Texas
June 10, 2017
Attendance from San Angelo include Christine
Jeffri (she wasn't aware she was posing for public media)
And David with whom I chose to ride today.
 Line up was for an 8 a.m. staggered start.
I hadn't attended the Dublin ride since it was called Tour de Pepper. Dr. Pepper was first bottled in Dublin beginning in 1891. Long story but Dublin can't use of the name or logo "Dr. Pepper," so now the ride is a charitable event to buy water filters.
Since I haven't been to this ride in a few years, I am not sure if the attendance was good or bad. If one could have ridden and didn't, one missed a good ride. OK, it was windy, but it's west Texas...what's new? Ride choices were 62, 37, and 9 miles. All of us from San Angelo chose the 37 miles. Trust me, it had enough hills and into-the-wind miles to keep one challenged. 
As per routine, I wait until we start spreading out before attempting any pictures. This was a few miles out of town and I was still trying to catch up to David who shot out of the chute like a calf roper.
It is lonely and lovely when in between the fast and the slower riders. 
 Eventually I caught up with David. Wind still in our face. As a matter of fact, there were just short lengths of road that were with the wind.
Ho hum. Another hill that the camera makes look tame. However, the Garmin had the "good" hills ranging from 6-14%. So, again, trust me, not the camera. 
Dublin did not have a shortage of rest stops. Some were just 6 miles from the last. But did David stop? No, but just for the record, I did.
 David was relentless and kept passing riders. I began to wonder if he was making a run for race placement. So I just tried to hang on for the ride. At some mile, the 37 and 62 routes split. The riders in front of us kept going straight for the 62 mile. I remarked to David that we had been chasing the 62 milers.
Eventually we spotted some riders in the distance so the "race" was back on.
David, as mentioned was relentless. I stopped at the next rest stop.
And who arrived at the rest stop also? And making the ride look easy. Couldn't be Christine.
 Out of fairness, there were some good downhills on the ride. Just not enough of them.
And out of fairness, there were some flat areas.
Just not enough flat miles as one can see an incline in the distance.
And another. I thought I took a picture of the "14%" grade hill, but couldn't find it after downloading. Could be one of these "tame" hills that the camera likes to document. 
 Soon after this picture, David and I split. (Story below).
 About 6 miles out of town, I saw a "damsel in distress" along side the road with a flat tire. I stopped to help but neither she nor I had a spare tube. Another rider stopped and gave one of his. I have found throughout the years that riders are very generous and helpful to people having trouble--race or tour. Anyway, I put the new tube in and when I aired up the tire, the tube was pinched and sisssss. No more tubes so SAG was contacted, and I still feel like an amateur boob--and she was doing so well in the race as, of course, she had been ahead of us. Possibly could have placed in the female division if I hadn't blown the tube. Sorry lady.
Starting to roll into town, but before I forget, I must mention that MOST of the roads were in great shape and smooth. Just short periods were rough, mainly where a new section of road had been laid with super chunky chip seal. 
 Now this does not count in the overall condition of the roads. I am glad Dublin preserved some of their early roads.
"Dia dhuit." ("Hello," say the Irish.) We are in Dublin after all. Before the ride, Christine had told me to make sure to get a picture of the Leprechaun. Luck had it that he was at the finish line when I came in.
 The little green leprechaun with my jolly green Giant. 
Never mind Christine and me. Note the frosty in my hand. Man were they good. (Previously I had one of Doc's famous floats. It was a tie as to which was better, so I will have to judge again in the future.  
 Speaking of treats, they had great BBQ sandwiches and all of the Dublin specialty bottled drinks you could hold. But David in the background was sampling another treat--triple chocolate milk shake. If I hadn't been so full, I would have tried one also. But now I have something other than another great ride to look forward to in the future.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Possum Pedal

 Possum Pedal
Graham, Texas
June 3, 2017
 Start time was scheduled for 7:30 a.m. but that didn't diminish Christine's enthusiasm.
Brian was ready to go also.
Marcus was ready also. Side note, Marcus did the 83 mile ride, whereas I did the 67. Point, he caught up to me about 7 miles out from the finish line. Sebastian from San Angelo was also there but I didn't get a photo. And I can't say how he did in comparison to Marcus, but Sebastian was loading his bike as I approached our car.
Added: Later I found out why I never saw him. He did the 83 miles in 3 hours, 50 minutes. In rain and hills.
I am not sure how many lined up, but previous riders stated that the attendance was low this year. The reason, I suspect, was the forecast--rain and thunderstorms.
 The ride started out fine and the crowd quickly spread out.
But 3 miles out, it started to rain on us. It was a heavy, steady rain, but I put away the camera as quickly my glasses were covered in water, and I had a hard time seeing. 
 Fast forward, it rained on us until about mile 40. I think we had just a sprinkle at this point.
 I am not sure the subtle change in the sky is detectable, but rain had stopped. A small raindrop was still present as can be seen on the left of the photo.
 Hopefully, the next few pictures will demonstrate three things: the outstanding, smooth roads; the scenic countryside; and some of the rolling hills.
I forgot to mention that we had a gentle 5 mph wind. One never noticed if going into the wind or with it.
  These are the best roads of any of the tours we've ridden during the last 10 years. And there were "yellow caution bicycle" signs on every route about every 5 miles. Most impressive.
 One may have noticed the previous shots of upcoming hills. My Garmin's grade indicator has gone haywire. I could be going up a hill and the grade indicator would say 1%, but my legs would say 5%. 
I think my legs were more accurate.
 19 miles out, almost home free.
 Tanks were full everywhere.
This was an "oop's"  shot, but when I looked at it, my ego said leave it in.
 We had great downhills also.
 The last rest stop before the finish line. The volunteers need a big shout out as they had volunteers to hold one's bike--even back when it was raining. The first rest stop was handing out dry rags. I cleaned my sunglasses and was finally able to see--for a little while.
When we crossed the Brazos, I had to stop and try to get a good picture. Later, in town, a local was telling me he lives on the Brazos and said it was 10 feet above normal. Side note, Throckmorton, a nearby community had to be evacuated due to flooding.
Always one more "1%" hill.
But just outside of town, there were two great downhills.
Finish line to a saturated ride as my kit was still wet and shoes were still soaked.
But, a treat by the ride sponsors and community eased the "pain." Graham was hosting a food truck championship.  We were given a ticket for a meal at any of the trucks.
 We chose this one and what a treat. BBQ sandwich that must have had over an inch of barbeque between the buns. And it was delicious.
 Statue on the town square. A tribute to the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail. What a wise cowboy following the old adage, "Don't squat on yer spurs."
 Really nice setting.
 Speaking of cowboys, at a dude ranch where we ate the previous evening, a nice herd of longhorns grazed in a field.

And now the treat that Christine loved. Graham has a still-operating drive in movie. She insisted that this be added as she was afraid some of the younger generation may have never seen a drive in.

Ticket office and part of the screen.

As "my generation" is aware, the little building contained the projection booth, concession stand, and rest rooms. The little white pickets in front of the screen were the lines of speakers that one would attach to a partially opened car window. Speakers had volume adjustment knobs and one could watch the film in the comfort of one's vehicle.
On the town square we were delighted to see Graham's little movie theater still in use. This isolated community was charming, well supported by sponsors and volunteers, and only about 3 hours drive from San Angelo.

We look forward to returning to the Possum Pedal next year to see the first 40 miles of the ride.