Sunday, August 21, 2011

Group Ride: Preparing for HHH

 "By the dawn's early light". Eight of us arose quite early to take advantage of the last weekend before Hotter'n Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls August 26-27-28. Shown (sort of) from front row to back, (front) Christine Jones, Chad Freeze, Rick Ogan, (back) Brian Backlund, Liz Rappe', Velma Ogan, and Bill Yohman. 
 One of our favorite roads is highway 277 to Christoval. Smooth, wide shoulders, and gentle inclines/declines.
 Reflective materials on our clothing and equipment compliment the front/rear lights. Did anyone notice the reflective parts of Rick's shoes in the first picture?
 "Big wheels keep on rolling".
 Besides practicing for the big biking event, one has to practice for rest stops, right? Liz spoiled us with iced drinks and Rice Krispie treats. We have our rest stop procedures down pat. Velma, Chad, Liz, and Bill seem to have mastered the art.

Coinciding with a running theme of lines from different songs, Velma, Christine, and Liz started singing oldies but goodies.

The singing continued on the ride until they scared a herd of cattle and woke up all the dogs in the countryside.
 Time to work off some of the calories. We left highway 277 to ride a scenic residential area...
 and get in some hill work which highway 277 does not have.
 Right at the curve is a low water crossing. I had the camera ready, however, with the speed picked up from the decline, when I hit the curve, the centrifical force almost took me into the river.
 So I was able to take this shot of part of the river as the incline slowed me enought to be almost stable again.
 Planned rest stop at the convenience store in Christoval, unplanned was Rick's having to work on Christine's bike to allow her to shift gears. Christine, Velma, and Bill watch.
 Heading back toward San Angelo, we met a different type of group ride-Texas style group ride.
 Back at the staging area, Liz declares she is now ready for the Hotter'n Hell Hundred.
After-ride conversation is always a favorite time. Bill is riding the 100 mile route next Saturday. Rick and Velma are talking about staying in San Angelo next week end, but Rick ALMOST has Velma talked into the Fort Davis ride coming up shortly in September. This will be Brian's first year at HHH, and he has settled on the 100K. If he changes his mind, he will easily complete the 100 mile endurance ride. I am eagerly awaiting to learn which group he lines up with. Chad, not pictured above, will probably line up with the 100 milers, but his goal is still to complete in under 5 hours. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Unusual Saturday Group Ride

The Saturday, August 13 ride started out usual enough. The ride was called for 6:30 a.m., riding the Burma Loop--about 38 miles, and the temperature was to be a mild 87 degrees with a 40% chance of rain at noon. No problem. Early start, early finish. Oh yes, part of the line up included from left, Brenda, Chad, Rick, Mark, Velma, Bill, Liz, and Christine.
 The blessedly overcast day masked our usual start off light.
 Visibility had improved by the time we arrived at the first re-group point about 10 miles out. The overcast conditions, however, really hampered my getting clear pictures throughout the morning. Probably had something to do with shutter speed, but I am a point and shoot person, so one will have to use his imagination on some of the shots.
 Some of the fires earlier this year swept through this area. Charred pastures are still quite evident.
 The fires, however, did not melt any of our hills so they are still intact.
 A faster group left about the same time we did. This is Christy Nesbitt returning for the turn around point of their ride. We were going in a loop rather than an out and back.
 Off to the right was still charred pastured, while the area ahead seemed to escape the fires. Just a few miles ahead was the site of one of the biggest wild fires.
 Just like a roller coaster ride, the hills start out with small rollers to get you adjusted.
 Soon the roller coaster ride picks up speed and grade. (Jerry, I will let you know a little later how much of a grade).
 OK, so it doesn't look like much, but the upcoming hill hits 11% grade. The  specks at the crest of the road were part of our group waiting for us.
 Christine, Mark, Liz, Brenda, and Rick at the "windmill hill".
 The Encino ranch (windmill hill) was hit pretty hard by the fires.
 This is the stretch of the route that makes it all worthwhile. We get to go downhill for about three miles. The momentum usually carries you almost all the way up the rise.

 Brenda and Christine still rolling down the slopes. Approaching on the left side of the road was Gene Potter and his ride partner.
 Next we met Mike Nesbitt (Christy's husband) on his return trip. She is a fast racer, but not miles and miles ahead of Mike.
 Not far behind were Bret and Tamra Roberts (2nd, 3rd riders). I did not recognize the lead rider.
 As mentioned, the day was overcast. Now the sky was getting darker and I kept trying to catch a photo of some of the lightning. It was faster than I.
 About this time, it started sprinkling on us. When you are twenty miles into a forty mile ride, it doesn't do you any good to turn around and try to avoid rain. We are so desperate for rain; let it come!!
 The re-group point at the Highway 87 intersection. The glisten on Liz's arm is not perspiration. The sprinkle continued.
 As we were about to shove off, we looked down the road. A wall of rain was ahead. What do you do? Shove off.
 We were in a light rain at this point. We could still see what was ahead of us.
 And then it started pouring. Only about 15 more miles to go.
 The convenience store ahead was our official rest stop. We were in an outstanding downpour. Our land is so parched that our reservoir at the State Park has made national news. O.C. Fisher is the reservoir with the cracked ground and the water that turned red. So Christine did not mind being caught in our desperately needed and best rain of the year.
 Walking into the store soaking wet with the air conditioner on really was a shock. As Velma later said, "I am chilled to the bones." So after buying our treat of chocolate milk, we stood outside just out of the rain.
 I tried to capture the downpour but raindrops don't pose well.
 Do we attempt to wait it out or dive back in? All but
decided to go on.
Liz called for a ride back to the staging area where her car was. After we took off, I wondered where Mark was and later found out he called his son to pick them up. Sloshing around in soaked bicycle shoes is a little unsettling.
 The REST of us took off to finish the last 10 miles.
"It was a cold and dark rainy night..." at midmorning.
 Right about this point the wind picked up and the rain would sting our faces. So what. Let it rain!
 Shivering, we made it back to the staging area.
And then it really started raining.

By the time this was written, we had received two inches of rain which almost doubled our annual rain fall to date (3.4" as of yesterday). And, it is still sprinkling outside! Praise the Lord!

 We have done hot, hotter, and ouch. We have done hills and valleys, and occasionally flat stretches. And we just did a (dry) water crossing ride last weekend, not to mention a snow cone ride. What we really needed then was practice riding in the rain--and we got it!! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Snow Cone Social Ride

 Great timing. The temperature was 104 degrees, so a snow cone sounded good. Not to mention a fine social ride.
 Randy's Bike and Run Shop, the ride sponsor, was the staging point. Mark Seals and David Durbin in forefront. Rick in lime green jersey in background.
Devin Gustafson, our host and ride leader is on the far left. Christine on the right. 
 I never counted, but I heard one person say there were about 20-30 of us participating in the ride.
 Start begins from Randy's. Devin leads out.
 A couple of blocks down the road (at the first shade), we made our first stop to let others who were caught by traffic or a red light catch up.
 Riders on whom we were waiting had to stop again for a stop sign.
 Then off we go again and past our old Sante Fe Railroad depot.
 Another shady spot downtown for the group to catch up again. OK, we were on the wrong side of the street, but there was not shade on the other side, besides, San Angelo's 20 minute rush hour was over. Liz Rappe in the center and Christine to her left.
 A little local history. The two buildings are now Miss Hattie's Restaurant. Miss Hattie's was an infamous bordello located close to Fort Concho. The building to the right at that time was a bank. Legend has it that there was a tunnel from the bank over to Miss Hattie's. Banking customers could go back and forth incognito.
 And past our municipal building. Randy and daughter bring up the rear.
 About this point in the ride, I turn my handlebar to get closer to the edge of the road. The handlebar turned but the wheel continued straight. I made a plaintive cry of "Rick!!!" He heard me a half block away. I told him I had my tools with me but what do I tighten to make the wheel turn  the direction that I turn the handlebar? He patiently talked me through tightening two places on the stem, and I merrily took off again. (Don't ask for technical details, two thingies that you can tighten on the stem)
 Riding along the Concho River. This is the area which also has the Christmas lights we wrote about last December.
 And then a boo boo. I understand there was an attempt to hand off a water bottle and Sarah went too far to the right. Bloody knee and bruised ego.
 But that didn't stop Sarah and we rejoined the other riders.

 Next we went through a quiet residential area.

 Re-group time again. The parking lot is part of Angelo State University.
 One of the university buildings.
 Through residential areas again. Christine to the left, Liz riding far right.
 I think we were going to turn right.
 One of the signs of Dr. Allen, our pets' vet, and the Dr. Allen who plays the saxophone in our yard during our annual Sierra Lights block party each December. (Some may recall Mr. and Mrs. Santa at the block party).
 Destination. Snow cone hut on College Hills.
 Each of us placed an order. Velma is at the order window.
 Snow cones are being prepared. Robin Lomax and Christine patiently wait.
 The picture includes Liz Rangel, standing on the left, Randy Rangel, our host, and his daughter.
 Rick far left, sorry, I didn't meet the gentleman in the baseball cap, Jeff McBride, John, and Lenny.
 Randy visiting with riders. Wish I had panned to the right to see what Velma and Christine are looking at.
 Snow cones and brain freeze about over, and it is socializing time.
The ride was officially over. Slowly, riders mounted and went their ways: some back to Randy's for their vehicles, some off to their houses--which is what Christine and I did. Although we left the car at Randy's, it was just 2-3 miles to our house, so we rode there, picked up the truck, and went to get the car.

Thanks Randy for the ride and snow cones.

Thanks Devin for leading us on the ride.

From all reports, everyone enjoyed the snow cone social ride.