But I am just a pilgrim on this road, boys
Until I see you fare thee well
-Steve Earle, Pilgrim

Monday, January 24, 2011

OK is OK 300K Brevet

I drove down to San Antonio and Round Rock to visit family last week and stopped on the way back in Greenville, TX, to ride with the Lone Star Randonneurs on Saturday. There were about 30 riders for the 200K and 300K ACP brevets. I rode out of Greenville at 7:00 with a fairly fast group. There was a group ahead of us and at least one group behind soon after we left town. The routes for both brevets were the same until Control #3 in Achille, OK (67 miles), where the 200K riders began the trip back south. The route to Achille crossed the Red River on an old railroad bridge that had been converted to a single-lane motor vehicle roadway. At some point in the past, a motor vehicle roadway had been cantilevered from the side of the railroad bridge but it was no longer in use. The cantilevered bridge did not look like it could support much more than a Model T even when it was first built.

We were in Caddo, OK (Control #4, 91.5 miles) at about 13:30. I had visions of getting back to Greenville by 21:00, but it wasn't going to happen. We picked up a head wind as we headed south, and our speed dropped several mph. I also began to run out of steam after we left Control #5 in Bennington, OK (112 miles). The group I was riding with pulled ahead of me, but I passed them a few miles later when one of the riders had a flat. They passed me again about eight miles further down the road, and I did not expect to see them again. I was also passed by some guys in a pickup truck, pulling a horse trailer, who offered me a beer as they passed. I said it looked good, but maybe later. I caught up with the group again at Control #6 in Bonham, TX (151 miles), just after sunset. One of the riders was sick and had decided to abandon.

We left the control at Bonham with the intent of riding the rest of the way together. About a mile down the road, another rider had a flat that required replacing the tire. The first tube would not inflate and had to be replaced. Two of the riders decided to head on because it was taking too much time to make the repair. After we got going again, three riders pulled away and we (me and two other riders) never saw them again. We stopped at a convenience store in Wolfe Creek (172 miles) for coffee, and I ate a pizza. It was the first store where we stopped that had pizza, which is a regular staple for me on brevets. I was getting tired of subsisting just on energy bars and chocolate milk.

After dark, the head wind died down and we made pretty good time on the predominately flat section. It was a chore to climb the few hills we encountered. We also slowed for the final four miles through Greenville because we did not want to miss our turns. We got into Control #7 (192 miles) just after 23:00. I appreciated that Charlie Fenske from Arlington, TX, and the other rider, who's name I have forgotten, finished the ride with me. In retrospect, even though I finished, I should have ridden the 200K because a stomach ailment I had on Monday and Tuesday and the 1,100 miles of driving the following three days probably contributed to my running out of steam after the first 100 miles.

North from Greenville, TX

Freshly tilled fields

Entering Ector, TX

Waiting for traffic on the Red River bridge

Crossing the Red River into Oklahoma

Durant, TX

Control in Caddo, TX

Crossing the Red River at sunset

Welcome to Texas

Texas antique truck

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Twice Riding the Hound Dog

The Hound Dog 124K to Aurora has quickly become one of our most popular routes. I rode it last Sunday, Jan. 2, with Dan Pfaff and yesterday with Tamara Mitchell. The Sunday ride was chilly, but nothing like yesterday, it was 22 degrees at the 7:30 start and 25 degrees when I got home a little after 14:00. Fortunately, the sun was out the entire time. There is not intermediate control between Springfield and Aurora, but we stopped at the Casey's in Billings for hot chocolate and to warm up. In Aurora, a local church group was at the Casey's filling gas tanks and buying coffee and hot chocolate. So we got free hot chocolate. Unfortunately, it looks like there may be a lot of cold rides this winter.

Dan in Aurora

Dan heading back