Cupcake Century permanent

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.
Recumbents at the start

Lantana 184K Dart

This was a fun and unique event. Saturday, Steve, Greg, Nelson, Ray, and I rode as a team in this event, and called our team Dart Vader. As opposed to a brevet, where you can ride pretty much any speed you want (as long as you maintain over a 9 and a half mile per hour average), and choose whether you ride with a group or not, on a dart, you ride the entire course with your team, and must use close to the entire designated time. Since the 12 hour time limit is more than we would ordinarily use to ride the 184k in the event, the main concern is just making sure the entire team can finish.

Nelson put together our course for the event. We, along with all the dart teams, started at the Lantana Lodge, which is east of Pilot Point, at Jordan Park at Lake Ray Roberts. Scheduled to start the ride at 7:00 am, we were late getting started, but we didn’t worry too much about that, since it was before daylight, in the lower 40′s temperature-wise, and we had plenty of hours to complete the ride.

We rode to Pilot Point, then north on US377, then turned east at Tioga. My fingers got pretty cold these first miles, in spite of the fact that I had on glove liners under my fingerless gloves. I guess it’s getting to be that time of year. There were a couple of rough spots, but these roads were mostly smooth, small, low traffic roads. At our first control in Howe, Shellene and Sharon and all from George’s dart team stopped and said hi. We also saw them at the next control in Tom Bean. They were headed north from there, though, while we turned south. I had never ridden the stretch from Howe to Tom Bean, and a couple of the hills were tougher than I would have thought could be found in this area.

The next stop was in Blue Ridge. Since it was looking like we’d be coming in way too early, we took time to eat lunch there. I downed a grilled chicken swiss sandwich that was very good. From there, we turned west. It had warmed, turning into a beautiful day without much wind by this time. When we turned south near Melissa, Nelson mentioned that these roads were the only part of the route he had never ridden before. We soon found out why, as we ended up on a three mile stretch of gravel road. I rode it slowly, keeping one foot unclipped half the time. Greg was looking like he enjoyed the stretch, though, especially when the truck and trailer passed, leaving a cloud of dust.

The remaining roads were mostly larger roads, but made of the new rough chipseal this part of the state is so known for. We made our last stop in Celina. Brenda’s team stopped there shortly after we did. It sounded like they were having a fun time just like us, although they had had a chain issue. We had no mechanicals on the ride. We rode back to Pilot Point, finally getting on smoother pavement again as we headed for Jordan Park. I ended up with just over 115 miles.

The dart riders, as well lots of LSR folks staying the night at Lantana Lodge for a permanent the next day, gathered for dinner at the lodge restaurant, and John Schiltter joined us. The food was very good, lots of stories were told, and it was a fitting end to a very fun day. Thanks, Nelson, for creating this route for us. And thanks to all my teammates for joining me on the ride. It was a different kind of ride, and great fun riding with these guys.

Quinlan Loop 153K permanent

Steve, Ray, and I rode Shellene Foster’s 153k Quinlan Loop permanent today. I was ready for an easy weekend ride. It seems funny to consider a 100 mile ride an easy ride, but I hadn’t had a weekend go by without at least 120 miles of riding since mid-September. So, when Steve invited me to join him on this ride, it seemed like a good idea.

This ride starts in Wylie, heads east through Lavon and Caddo Mills, then near the north end of Lake Tawakoni, loops south to Quinlan, then back through Caddo Mills and Lavon. I can say with some certainty that it will never be one of my favorite routes. It has too much really rough chipseal, too much traffic, and too many high speed roads with no shoulders. I haven’t been passed close by vehicles this many times on one ride in quite a while.

In spite of that, today was a really fun day. It was cool enough this morning that Steve, Ray, and I all started out wearing arm warmers. I really felt like I had lead in my legs the first few miles. I didn’t know why at the time, but looking at my Garmin graph, I can see that the first 20 miles were very uphill. It’s a really flat route overall, but you wouldn’t know it by that first 20 miles. And we were going against the wind most of that stretch, too. After we stopped at the first control in Caddo Mills, I started to feel like I had my legs working again.

That’s not to say I could keep up with Ray and Steve when they decided to pick up the pace. We kind of alternated between an easy pace and brisk pace. During the stretches where the traffic was less and we could actually have a conversation while we rode, we tended to slow down. We had no particular finishing time in mind, and we took our time at the controls.

The roads near the north end of Lake Tawakoni were quiet and very scenic, but too much of the rest of the ride, I was watching traffic too much to enjoy the scenery. When we weren’t going against the north wind, this was truly a beautiful day to be riding. We handled the busy parts of the route with no problems, and finished up in 8 hours even. With some turns we missed early in the ride, we ended up with 100 miles even (after circling the block a couple of times at the end to make it an even century), rather than the advertised 95 miles. My on the bike average was 16.5 mph, which figures to 6 hours of actual riding time, so we definitely spent a generous amount of time in the controls. Total climbing for the route was just 1833 feet. I haven’t ridden a 100 mile route that flat since……… you guessed it, HHH, which only had 1600 feet of climbing.

After the ride, we had some excellent Mexican food at the Dos Charros restaurant in Wylie, and called it a day. Thanks, Steve and Ray, I had a great time today!

Mark Metcalfe on a Lowracer?

It was a strange sight on the Joe Pool dam yesterday evening as Rose snapped these photos of Mark on my Roadster. It was just a quick trial just before dark, with more wobbling than riding. We need to let Mark try some less extreme bikes like my Corsa, Paul’s X-Stream, and Ray’s V-3.

We may yet bring him around to the dork …………. errr, I mean dark side.

Italy 300K

Paul did this 300K in less than 12 hours, but the rest of the local recumbent group (I mention local because there was a Corsa and Tour Easy from New Orleans – I only saw them at the first couple of controls and talked briefly with them early in the ride) had no intention of turning this ride into a race. Greg was on the heavy and not-so-aerodynamic V-Rex, and had said that the only way he could ride with us was if we kept a reasonable pace, and that was already what Steve, Peggy, and I had planned, this being our first 300k.

I did want to try and reach the last control before the end, Dixie’s Little Stop at mile 157, by 7:00 pm. This place is known for its good food, and I figured after a longer break than usual, and rigging up all the lights, we would be ready for the last stretch in the dark.

Shortly after leaving Italy, this route turns onto FM667 which is new chipseal. There are rollers here, but no really tough hills, and the wind hadn’t really started blowing yet. Five miles before the first control at Dawson, this route turns onto SH31. This is a short break from the chipseal, but with the route’s new detour, it stays on SH31 all the way to Hubbard, and the shoulder past Dawson is ……… you guessed it, rough chipseal.

At Hubbard, the route turns southeast on SH171. This highway shoulder is still rough chipseal; the new detour seems to have added even more chipseal to the route. The southeast wind really started to pick up while we were on this road. There are also a couple of pretty tough hills on it. We had passed an upright paceline on the flatter part of this highway, but every bicycle on the planet passed me on that second hill, I think.

We pulled into the next control in Mexia at mile 57. We spent more time at this control than I intended, but everyone seemed a bit tired from the chipseal and wind. It was at this point that I discovered that inhaling part of a Clif bar doesn’t work very well. I thought I was going to choke to death on the spot. From Mexia, the 300k route travels east to Teague on RR1365. This is a tiny road, but it’s well worn chipseal that’s not as rough as what we’d been on, and there are so many tall trees that the wind doesn’t bother you as much, either. At the control in Teague, we were joined by Ken from Colorado. He had made a wrong turn for a couple of bonus miles, and was doing the 300k like us, so we added one more to the group for the rest of the ride.

We headed south out of Teague on FM80, bound for Jewett, 27 miles to the south. It’s an almost steady gradual incline from Teague to Jewett, and with the south wind really blowing now, this stretch was brutal. Greg fell back, and thinking that he was worn out from going against the wind on his heavier bike, I dropped back to pull him. It turned out it was just severe foot pain that was slowing him down. The 300k route turns around at Jewett, and we saw Paul going the other way about 6 miles before we reached Jewett.

We took a nice long break in Jewett, and as we went to leave, Mark Metcalfe made a quick stop at the store. He was doing the 600k, which goes another 21 miles past Jewett, then turns around, so while we had 97 miles at this point, he had 140 miles already! And he was doing it by himself; no one else had stayed with him.

Headed north out of Jewett, we were flying. A steady slight downhill and a tailwind was just what the doctor ordered. We dropped Ken. Even pedaling at a very easy recovery pace, there’s just no way an upright could stay with us on this stretch. The next control stop was at mile 127 in Groesbeck. Ken pulled in a few minutes behind us. Peggy told Ken she had told us all she felt bad about dropping him. Steve pointed out that she never stopped pedaling while she was saying that.

For the second stop in a row, I pulled my shoes off. That chipseal definitely takes a toll on feet, and my body was telling me that it had already done a 200k, it was time to drive home. I knew that pedaling another 68 miles was going to be a chore.

We left Groesbeck and were back on more familiar roads. The remainder of the route is part of the 200k which I have done several times. The roads are smoother on this stretch, too. It has some rolling hills, but nothing too tough. We arrived at Dixie’s at exactly 7:00 pm. Everyone was tired, but in good spirits. I usually just eat sports bars, Payday candy bars, and fruit on these rides, but on a 300k, something more substantial seemed necessary. About 25 miles before Dixie’s, I started thinking about a cheeseburger, and by the time we arrived, I was ready to order mine. It must have seemed like a good idea, because everyone else ordered one, too.

We took our time at Dixie’s, rigged lights and reflective devices, and took off for the final 38 miles in the dark. With 5 bikes, the road was very well lit. This stretch has lots of rolling hills, and I took the lead. I out-coast everyone on the downhills, and am the slowest on the uphills, so up front seemed to be a logical place for me in this stretch, so I wasn’t constantly passing or being passed. It occurred to me that this turned out to be a great time for a 300k. It didn’t get too hot during the day, and it wasn’t too cold now that it was dark. It was truly great riding weather. We made a quick stop at a closed store in Mertens, about 11 miles from the finish. Greg sat massaging his feet as he had a conversation with a toad. I don’t think the toad was too happy that Greg had scared off all his bugs.

On US77, about 4 miles from the finish, Steve zoomed by me to claim the Italy city limit sign, then Peggy came flying by, too. Just like I had good sense, I sped up for the final 4 miles, too. I finished at 10:17, with a total time of 15:17. I had an on the bike average of 16.3 mph. With the route detour, the total miles were 195.6, so after getting our brevet cards signed, Steve, Peggy, Ken, and I decided to get back on the bike and ride 5 more miles to claim our first double century.

My first 300k and first double century, on the same day, and with good friends, I was a tired but happy camper. Thanks, Steve, Peggy, Greg, and Ken. It was a special day.

Peggy and I.
Peggy and I

Steve and Peggy at Dawson.
Steve and Peggy at Dawson

Greg, Peggy, me, and Steve.
Greg, Peggy, Steve, and I

Magical Mystery Tour 200K permanent

Steve, Peggy, and I, along with Dan and Pam from LSR, rode this 200k permanent Saturday. It was pretty tough going out mostly against the wind, but nice finishing up with a tail wind. It wasn’t a hammerfest pace; our mph average didn’t even get above 15 until we turned and had the wind at our backs, and we ended up finishing in 10:03. But it was great company, and I really enjoyed the ride.

I do believe this is my favorite of the LSR permanent routes that I’ve done so far. It leaves from Lynn Creek Marina at Joe Pool Lake, heads west through Arlington onto some of the roads on my Briaroaks routes, then turns and goes through Alvarado. It then continues south on some tiny roads, some of which I hadn’t ridden before, and some which I had only ridden when Greg, Ray, Steve and I had to make a detour on a club ride. Then it turns east to Maypearl, travels some of the small roads south and east of there, turning northeast at Italy. Then it turns north and passes by Lake Waxahachie, leaving the chipseal there to go down Lakeshore Drive beside the lake, a very scenic road which I had never ridden before. It then takes familiar roads through Midlothian and Cedar Hill, finishing up by going down the big descent on Lake Ridge Parkway from Hwy 67.

The route has less chipseal than just about any of the permanent routes I’ve done, and while the almost 4,000 feet of climbing was enough to let you know you’d ridden up some hills, it wasn’t enough to completely wear me out. I look forward to riding this route again.

We passed Mark Metcalfe, Vickie Tyer, and Jerry Austin, going the opposite direction, twice as they rode a different 200k permanent. Rose joined us at the Oasis for dinner afterward, and it was a fitting end to a very enjoyable day. I ended up with 127.2 miles, at a blistering 15.6 mph average. Thanks, Steve, Peggy, Dan, and Pam for a great ride.