Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tour de Gap

 Buffalo Gap, Texas
July 26, 2014
 Ready for the ride: Cindy and Jerry Middleton
 On the line: Brian Backlund. I figured I had better get this shot as this may be the last time I see him on the ride. And I was correct.
 It was reported that 275 riders showed up. We had a choice of 11, 28, or 56 miles. The 72 mile race was not held this year as road construction was taking place on the route.
 All of the fast guys were forced into the 56. The 56 mile route was my initial goal.
 This road was part of the detour around the normal route. We had just crossed a pretty good hill and I started re-evaluating my plans already. Again, see my pace line dropping me.
 Eventually we were on Highway 83 which was an incline of 1-3% for 7 miles and into the wind. I continued to re-evaluate tour length.
 Passing through Tuscola enroute to the rest stop that marked the turn off from Highway 83.
The purpose of this picture was not to draw attention to our cactus and mesquite fields, rather, on the horizon, if one had an enlargement of the shot, is a host of windmill electric generators that line Highway 277.  
 I met up with Jerry and as we rode together and discussed the wind and everlasting slight incline, I came to the decision that the 28 mile course would satisfy me on this ride.
 Jeffri and Christine at the rest stop turning off Highway 83. Jeffri is a regular on our Monday evening rides and frequently on the Saturday. Christine had planned on doing the 28 mile ride all along, so I waited at the rest stop until she arrived so we could finish the ride together.
 We had never ridden the 28 mile route, so we were extremely surprised and pleased when it turned out to be with the wind and slightly downhill all the way back to town.
 The dream ride. Downhill and with the wind.
 With some good scenery.
 We may never ride the 56 mile course again. The 28 return trip was just too much fun.
 My pick of houses on this ride.
 After the scenic lane, we turned onto Highway 89 heading toward Buffalo Gap. Again, to our pleasure, the entrance to 89 on the 28 mile route was beyond THE WALL as one turned off of Hwy 277.
 Our ride was slightly downhill right into Buffalo Gap.
 Finish line approach.
 Finish line in sight.
All that was left was to chow down on some egg and potato burritos and listen to the announcer to see if your number was called for the plentiful door prizes.
We will have to wait a year to determine if the lure of the 28 mile ride will sway us from out routine 56.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tour the Peanut Country

 Tour the Peanut Country
Gorman, Texas
July 19, 2014
This was Gorman's 13th Annual bike ride but the first time we have attended. Never knew until this past weekend what we were missing.
 As we were off loading our bikes, I thought I had better take a picture of Christine as she was going on a different route than I was, and therefore, we might not see each other until after my ride.
 Riders had four routes to choose from: 9 miles, 26, 45, or 100K. Christine was going to do the 26, and I was heading out for the 45. Riders visited or just warmed up before line-up time. It was a little chilly and overcast, little wind--almost perfect riding weather.  
 When it was time to line up, way in front were the eager 100k riders. Spaced back a bit were the laid back 100K group. In all, I would estimate between 70-80 riders came out for the event. 
 At the start, I was part of a pace line. They traveled at a pretty good clip, and we had well over a 17 mph average going.
 But, anyone who has read any of our blogs, or have ridden with me knows what happened next. As we hit the first series of hill, I was what they call "off the back." The little dots starting the next incline had been "my" pace line.
 This was a different hill. Point is, where were the other riders?
 Even on a straight stretch, it appeared that I was riding a solo tour. My strategy was to be able to just look around at the country side without worrying about running into other riders or having to pull for anyone. Strategy was working.
 The 45 mile course was a series of gently, rolling hills, and as one could tell from this and the other pictures, there were no tough monster hills on the route.
 And the roads were above average.
 The two ladies shown were from Abilene. They would not be able to attend the near-by Buffalo Gap tour this coming weekend as their husbands were to participate in the Cheyenne, Wyoming rodeo. We wished them good luck.  
I kept looking for peanut fields (this was Tour the Peanut Country), but all I saw were hay fields and fat cattle. Actually, the only way I would recognize a peanut plant would be if the farmer placed a sign on his fence stating "This is a peanut field." But, I understand that even though Gorman was once labeled the Peanut Capital of Texas, most production has moved to the Brownfield, TX area. Gorman just celebrates their once prominent status.  
Alternating flat lands and hills were the theme of the day. 
 As I recall, this gentleman was from the Fort Worth area. As with the Abilene ladies, when one takes turns passing each other, one gets to know each other. Riders are for the most part very friendly people.
 One of the highlights of the tour--Carbon, Texas--population 224.
 Me in front of the City Hall of Carbon, Texas. I asked the men at the rest stop across the street if the building was for real. "Yes, that is our City Hall".
 A right turn on to Highway 6 marked the last leg of the tour.
 Highway 6 continues the series of rolling (got to put in the various tour directors standard words)--"gently rolling hills".
 And then back into Gorman proper.
 Off to the side was a well maintained, non-functioning train depot. How did I know it is non-functioning? The train tracks that crossed the street were paved over.
Volunteers at the finish line--and start line. Speaking of volunteers, Gorman has a great group of volunteers for the rest stops as well as the Volunteer Fire Department that provided safety--and sag if needed.
I found a good shade to bide my time after the ride. As Christine took the shorter route, she finished well ahead of me and went back to our hotel room in Eastland, Texas to soak in a hot bubble bath. Next year, I may not have to wait for her to come back for me as one of the volunteers told me that next year they would have showers available for out of town riders to refresh before their trips back home. The Gorman tour just keeps getting better and better. Pretty soon, it just may not be one of the best kept secrets of outstanding rides.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Waxahachie The Gingerbread City

Previous write ups have mentioned that part of the fun of attending bike tours is to get to see the sights in the different cities and the surrounding areas.
 Waxahachie is known as the Gingerbread City for its many Victorian style homes. The Gingerbread City moniker comes from the ornate decorations of the homes.
Waxahachie is also known as the "Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas". It was so designated by the Texas State Legislature in 1997. Many of the houses and streets are adorned by huge crape myrtles.
For the past 46 years, Waxahachie has hosted the Gingerbread Trails home tours. In July, they host the Crape Myrtle Festival.
Enjoy the sights--the houses describe themselves.

Hawkins House
Benjamin Franklin Hawkins was one of the founders of Ellis County. His first house occupied this site in 1851 even before the Comanches were subdued. His next house was built in 1887 and is designated a historical site.

Even beautiful houses need maintenance. Not seen, but off to the left side, the owners were busily calking the windows.

The dome of this great house needed a little maintenance, also. I hope they paint it a rust color as I like the combination.

The bike tour and the historical houses tour are one of the many highlights of our cycling season.