This morning, a day after doing the dart from Lantana Lodge at Lake Ray Roberts, I rode the Cupcake permanent that starts at the same place. I never did hear how many riders showed up for the ride, but it looked like a great turnout. We rolled out at 8:00 am. With John Schlitter in their midst, I knew the fast riders in LSR would be hammering on this ride. On my best day, I would do well to hang with this bunch for a few miles, and while that might have been fun, there was no way I was going to do it after having already ridden a century the day before. Having never done back to back centuries, I knew that just completing this ride would be all the challenge I needed. Ray took off and joined the fast crew, but Steve, Peggy, Mark and I took off at our own pace, and the lead group was out of sight within a few miles.
Like our dart route the day before, this ride went through Tioga to Howe for the first control, then on to Tom Bean. But we didn’t stop in Tom Bean this time. Before we reached Howe, though, Ray had stopped and waited for us. As I suspected, the lead group was holding a race-like pace. Shortly past Tom Bean, we heard those words that all randonneurs love: “BONUS MILES!” We missed a turn to stay on FM2729, and ended up on SH11 instead. A mile out of town, I saw the sign that only said SH11, but it never registered that we had gone astray until Mark sprinted up beside me and said his gps had been telling him to turn around for a couple of miles. As soon as he said that, I thought of the sign I had just seen, and realized he was right. I yelled at Steve ahead to get him to stop, and we turned around. Sure enough, we found the correct turn about two miles back, and tallied 4.5 bonus miles for our trouble. Somewhere around this point, the wind really started picking up out of the south.
After heading north on FM2729, we soon ended up on some tiny curving roads with short, but steep and challenging hills, before arriving at Bells for our next control. From there, it was mostly west, on more small and hilly roads. One short, steep hill, on which Ray had chain issues, was so tough I was unsure whether I was going to be able to climb it, right to the point where I finally reached the top. I had shut off my gps at the last control, and forgot to hit the start button again, so was disappointed that I had no data on this little hill. This part of the ride would be challenging, even if I hadn’t ridden a century the day before.
As we kept heading west, the wind seemed to be in our face, and Steve and I mentioned that it now felt more west than south. By the time we stopped at our next control in Sherman, the flags in front of this control told us the wind was now coming from the west-northwest. I won’t mention exactly what happened, but it was at this control where I learned how to totally mortify Steve, Peggy, and Ray in a Jack in the Box restaurant. I should remember this technique, as it may come in handy later.
As we left the control, we noticed the wind was now blowing straight out of the north, and had really picked up. We were ready to turn south for that great tailwind, but we had more miles of west riding to complete first. There are some great views of valleys, hills, and countryside in this part of the ride, and it was at this point were I decided, challenging hills and all, I really like this route. Somewhere shortly before the next control in Collinsville, though, I really started to feel like I was hitting the wall, and in Collinsville, I noticed that we all looked pretty exhausted.
Mark had fallen back, and arrived at the Collinsville control just as we were about to leave, and with Schlitter have been waiting for hours for Steve and Peggy, we figured we should press on. This stretch down US377 is mostly downhill, and with a now howling wind at our backs, we were back in Pilot Point in a very short time. As soon as we turned west to head back toward Lake Ray Roberts, though, we were stopped at a railroad crossing while a slow train took its time. As we rode the park road approaching Lantana Lodge, I kept waiting for Steve and Peggy to come speeding past me, but they never did. It turned out, Paggy had gotten stung by a bee on the side of her forehead, just before the end of the ride. I hope that sting’s not too bad today, Peggy.
With our bonus miles, I ended up with just short of 109 miles, and my first back to back centuries had been completed. A tired camper, I headed straight for home. This was a fun route, and riding it with Steve, Peggy, Ray, and Mark really made it enjoyable. Thanks, y’all!
Recumbents at the start.