Sunday, March 18, 2018

Steam N Wheels

 Steam N Wheels
Abilene, Texas
March 17, 2018
 Good News/Bad News. Some of us thought the ride started at 9 a.m. If it had, Christine and I would almost have been late. Couple of unnamed others also thought it was 9, some knew it was a 10 a.m. start. From the picture, can you tell who thought it was 9 and the one(s) who knew it was 10? 
 Slowly the parking lot started to fill.
 Some of the San Angelo attendees:
Angie and Jodi
 Bo, Brian, Jerry, Marcus, and Ben
Christine is still on the injured list with her unhealed shoulder/arm joint (Editor's note: I wondered why it wouldn't get better after 4 years). Scheduled for shoulder replacement in May.
Group pic just before line up. Told you I was prepared for 50 degree weather. Can't help it that the others are more tolerant of chilly weather. 
 Lined up close to the front are Brian, Bill, and Marcus.
Not sure how many registered but Steam N Wheels had a good turnout.
 And we are off. A lead pack quickly established. At this point, Bill, Marcus, and I were hanging in at the start of the 48 mile race. 
 I was so impressed with these guys. If I stopped pedaling for a heart beat to take a photo, they were in the distance. Sometimes I would glance down at the odometer to ask myself why we are going 27 mph? This isn't fun. 
 Fast forward to the next photos. At the 24 mile rest stop I stopped. Of course the lead group continued at their impressive pace.
When I stopped I had something like a 22 mph average. Upon resuming, I considered whether it was worth it to try to catch them.

 The answer was no, just ride your own pace and try to have fun. As I had declared that I was riding an Ebike, no matter in what place I finished, it wouldn't be counted.
There was one other consideration to ride alone. If one has seen the excellent cycling movie "Breaking Away," one would recall the reception Dave got when he tried to ride with the visiting Italian team.             
               When I pulled up to the outside of the group, it seemed a "blocker" would emerge. 

When I went to the inside, I was crowded to the point of going off the shoulder or backing off. I backed off.

I do not want to overplay the actions, but I got the very distinct feeling that no old man, especially on an electric bike, was going to join the group.
I guess I should have ridden with my friends.

Bit I had a nice leisurely ride by myself, occasionally passing a rider who was dropped from the group. 

The ride continued to be normal. Solitary road shots by myself.
Nearing the end. Right after the underpass we are close to the finish line. 
The end is in sight. By this time I had dropped my average to 20.2 mph. Good enough for me, and I had more fun on the last half of the ride.
Some of the San Angelo riders and family formed a cheering squad for finishers. Nice to be welcomed in. Thanks to the volunteers and friendly San Angelo crowd for making the race/ride an enjoyable time.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Pedal Through the Pines

Pedal thru the Pines
Bastrop (& Smithville), Texas
March 10, 2018 had rain forecast from 11 p.m. Friday night to about 11 a.m. Saturday. Thankfully, all we had was an overcast sky.
 Mill time at the staging area.
 Slowly the riders lined up.
 Some were in no hurry.
 There was to be a staggered start with the self-proclaimed "fast" riders up front. This location is about mid-way.
 Good roads leading out.
 This guy passed me going about 23 mph. 
 I was impressed.
 Rocky Hill Ranch. Rocky Hill is the biggest challenge of the course.
 Start of the hill. 
 The climb is a long one and my Garmin indicated it peaked at 9%.
 After Rocky Hill, we had a series of rollers that didn't get over 6%.
 Church located on the grounds of Rest Stop 1.
 There was a pack of us going downhill at break neck speed when I saw a person wave at someone off to the side. It was a rest stop, so I broke from the pack, turned around, and visited with the volunteers. Part of my "never pass up a rest stop on a tour" philosophy. I didn't need anything as the stop was only about 8 miles out from the start but I enjoyed the hospitality of the volunteers. Thanks, all.
 There were enough flats to avoid climb fatigue that allowed one just to enjoy the ride and scenery.

 Unfortunately, the "oak blight"  has reached Bastrop and the surrounding area. We noticed it some years back while riding at Gonzalez and have watched it move steadily up Texas.

 As we turned toward Serbin, the road is an incline about the whole distance. 
 Rest Stop 2 at Serbin, Texas. Serbin was established by Wendish immigrants to Texas in the mid-1850's.  
 Good place for down time. Serbin is about mid-way and there was no hurry to end the ride.  
St. Paul Lutheran Church, built in 1871 is typical of Wendish architecture and is still in full use at present.  
 Log cabin home of John Killian, the first Pastor in 1854.
 Slight incline continues after Serbin. 
 Ride Marshalls were spaced throughout the route. They insure safety and provide rider assistance. 
 Heading toward Winchester, Texas.
 Winchester United Methodist Church by Zilss Memorial Hall (Rest Stop 3). 
 Rest Stop 3, the last one on the 40 mile route. Good selection of goodies but getting too close to finishing to eat too much. 
 Mr. Zilss was a successful merchant in the early Winchester days. The hall may be rented and also serves as the location of the rest stop.
 Note the change in the sky and weather. Getting clear and warm.  
 I liked the contrast in trees. 
 Nice stretch without rollers.
 The patch didn't last long.  
 Routes were well marked by arrows.

 Resumption of rollers can be seen in the distance. 
 Coming up on the turn left to complete the 40 miles or turn right to go the 70 miles.
 The nice lady encouraged me to turn right but I politely declined.
 After Winchester, we started back tracking the outgoing route. This is the beginning of the Rocky Hill decline. 
 I stopped to take the decline shots as it is not only steep but long, and the obtained speed is not conducive to letting go with one hand to take a photo.  
 Another stop at the base of Rocky Hill. A small herd of iconic Texas Longhorns were close to the fence tempting me to memorialize them.
 The exit of Buescher State Park where we used to come out of the parks in the old days before the big forest fires. Neither park has fully recovered from the fires. 
 Mystery photo. Can you identify?
 Getting close to the intersection with Highway 71 and the finish. 
 Right at the intersection there is a big patch of bluebonnets. It is still early spring. We should have a very good display of wild flowers in a few weeks.
 These were the only bluebonnets that I saw on the ride.
 I had accidently taken this shot, and it clarified what I saw in a previous picture.
 The frontage road of Hwy 71 is nice and smooth.   
Turn off to the Vernon L. Richards Riverbend Park just outside of Smithville.
 Finish line just ahead. 

 Recall at Rest Stop 3 I didn't want to over-eat? I knew there was great BBQ at the finish line.
 Christine who is still impaired with a broken shoulder (from a bicycle fall, of course) can at least enjoy the amenities of the various tours. She will have a shoulder replacement in May.