Monday, August 24, 2015

Tour de Gap

 Tour de Gap
Buffalo Gap, Texas
July 25, 2015
 Having just gotten back from Illinois and hadn't even unpacked our bags yet, the Gap ride was upon us.
Some 234 riders registered for this annual event.  
 We are off but no rush. We discovered the 28 mile route last year.
 We enjoyed the 28 miles course so much that we didn't even have to make excuses that we had just returned from a road trip and were exhausted. (The return trip wasn't all that bad, but it fits in with our story). 
 At the very start we were obviously riding into the sun, so the first long exhausting hill is blurred. 
 But every hill eventually has its reward. 
 The road flattens just before reaching highway 83.
Tuscola, Texas, population 714, about the size of Bradford, Ill, the story below this one. 
 Jim Ned High School. Ring a bell with football fans? Yep, home of Colt McCoy, former quarterback for the University of Texas Longhorns, played for the Cleveland Browns, and later was quarterback for the Washington Redskins. He must have felt at home playing for the Jim Ned
High School Indians.
 Rest Stop 1 (and only for the 28 mile group). Trying to look as if I hadn't just ridden 14 miles into the wind.
 Watermelon made up for everything for Jeffri.
 Christine arrived shortly after. She was ready for liquids, watermelon, and the next 14 miles "downhill with the wind." Partially true. That is why we enjoy the 28 mile ride.
 Thanks to the volunteers. We know a ride is impractical without you. 
 The return decline ranges from 1-4% and mostly with the wind.
 Fun trip back.
 Fair play. Since the route is essentially an out and back, we traveled 14 miles ranging from 1-4% up and into the wind.
 We just settled in, coasted, and enjoyed the scenery.

 Yep, this is part of the Great Plains which stretches all the way north to the Dakotas. San Angelo is  geographically the very southern point.

 While we were enjoying the scenery, there was one sad note. Abilene County Judge Sam Carroll had an accident on the other route. A lady found him in her front yard and after checking on him, called 911. He was placed in ICU and reportedly had paralyzed arms and legs. Later he was placed in hospice and passed away. As there were no witnesses we may never know exactly what happened, but his family is in our prayers. 

 Coming back into Buffalo Gap. 
 And the finish line is in sight.
 Part of the San Angelo crew. Jerry, Tony, Robbie, Christine, and Brian. 
Chilling after eating our fill of burritos. Shortly the numbers were called out for after ride prizes. Almost everyone from San Angelo received a prize, except for two whom we all know, but we had an enjoyable ride and full stomachs, so what else could one want?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bradford, Illinois

Bradford, Illinois
July 20, 2015
Saturday we finished the Z Tour and by Monday we were ready to ride again. A small town about 14 miles from where we were staying in the Lake Thunderbird community sounded like a good ride.
Yep, to get out of Lake Thunderbird, we had to travel through parts of the Z Tour route.
Some were smaller hills. This one was worth the climb to get to coast down. 
Going downhill, one must be on the alert for potholes and traffic. In Lake Thunderbird, one must also be on the alert for wild life. 
And you don't want this fellow to dart out in front of you. 

Once out of the Lake Thunderbird settlement, the vistas open up a bit. Note their good roads. Texas must buy up all of the #3 aggregate (super chunky) rocks forcing the other states to have good roads. 
Illinois is noted for its excellent farm land.
We just didn't remember the farm land being hilly.
Recent rains encouraged wild flowers to adorn the roads.

Soon we were approaching Lone Tree school house.
Lone Tree was named after a large burr oak tree that stood alone on the open prairie. Lone Tree also was once an unincorporated small town.
Built in 1875, the Lone Tree school house was a one room school. It operated until 1949.
Unrelated to the ride, this is a 1910 school picture of the students. Courtesy of the Bureau County Illinois History and Genealogy Society.
Onward toward Bradford.

There were still enough rollers to keep us active.
Getting a little weather worn but this corn crib is still operational.
Rollers keep coming.
Boyd's Grove United Methodist Church. Founded in 1851.
Boyd's Grove, like Lone Tree, was once a small town in Bureau County southwest of Tiskilwa. Today, the church is the only reminder of the town.
Intersection marking the Galena Trail and Coach Road.
The Galena Trail is a historic and scenic road that followed ancient Native American trails and was used by early American miners to link the Lead Mine Region of Illinois and Wisconsin with Peoria and Southern Illinois.
The sign above the trail sign limits truck weight during January to April due to frequent bad road conditions during winter.
Not historic but an irritant to many residents, wind generators line the roadway.
Main street Bradford, Illinois. Population 768.

The band stand. Made a nice little picnic area. Not shown are our chocolate milk and goodies bought at a local convenient store.
Bradford library.

To be fair, not all of the way was rollers. This is how I had visualized the Z Tour. Flat farmland.
Since it was an out and back, we passed Boyd's Grove again.
Nice road and terrain.
If we had rollers on the way out, guess what was on the way back.

 Lone Tree.
Nice barns. Not sure if it reflects German ancestry or just nice barns.
Just beyond the tree line is the entrance to Lake Thunderbird.
Lake Thunderbird has more than just rollers. Some of the inclines ranged from 11 to 16%
Nice downhill. Note sign, apply brakes.
Had to throw this in and make the ride to Bradford and back a happy ending. Thanks for the memories, Illinois.