I joined friends John and Susan Pogue on their tandem and rode my Peachy Keene 200K permanent this morning. We started the ride out of southwest Arlington at 7:30 this morning. It ended up being a lot tougher ride than we expected.
Peachy Keene goes south through Cleburne on to just west of Covington, then turns east, going through Covington, Itasca, then Maypearl. Then it’s north back to the start. We started out against a strong south wind. Wouldn’t you know it, just as we turned back north, a front blew in and the wind swung to the north. So we rode against a strong headwind most of the ride. But the front didn’t cool things off much. It was 93 degrees in the afternoon.
After we left the Maypearl control at mile 80, it was obvious that John and Susan were slowing down. By mile 90, they were moving so slow that I started having serious doubts about whether or not they were going to be able to finish. I made the decision to ride on ahead alone. I figured I could always drive back and get them if I needed to.
By mile 122, coming into the south edge of Kennedale on Kennedale New Hope Road, just 2 1/2 miles from the finish, I was pretty tired myself. It was at that point that my route became blocked by an unmoving train. I walked over and spoke to a man at the park there, and he said the train had already been there an hour. He told me he thought the train must have derailed, and wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.
There was no easy detour. The last intersection before the tracks was a few miles back, and the only roads I could think of that would be sure to get me around the train would be more miles than I wanted to ride, and take me through a pretty bike unfriendly part of Arlington to get there.
I stepped up close to the train, and looked. It appeared that the end of the train was less than a half mile to the west. In a flash of brilliance (hey, it seemed that way at the time; I was tired), I decided to walk around the end of the train.
By the time I had walked close to a half mile, I realized that it had been an optical illusion. It was not the end of the train I had seen. It only appeared that way because the tracks started curving at that point. The train stretched on for as far as the eye could see. I looked around, saw no one in sight, and quickly stuffed my bike under the train, crawled under and past it myself, then snatched up my bike. I didn’t have to walk nearly as far on that side of the tracks. There was a side street that came near the tracks, so I hopped on my bike when I reached it.
At one point while I was walking those large train track rocks, I glanced at my GPS and noticed that my heart rate was 159. My max heart ride from the ride was just 160! I arrived at the finish control, which is an Easy Mart store, went in, bought vitamin water, and got my card signed. When I came back out and attempted to put the vitamin water in my seat bag, I realized there was no seat bag on my bike. I was never out of sight of the bike while in the store, so it didn’t take me too long to figure out that I must have lost it at the tracks.
I walked around to the back of the store where my truck was parked and put my bike on the rack. I was thinking that I needed to jump in the truck and hurry back to the train. Bad idea; my keys were in the seat bag. So, I did the only thing I could think to do. I hopped back on the bike and rode back to the train. The train was still there. I walked down the tracks and sure enough, there in the middle of the tracks, at the point where I crawled under the train, was my seat bag.
I had just reached my bike again when my phone rang. It was Susan. They had decided to DNF shortly after I left them, called her brother, and he had picked them up. They came looking for me, but must have arrived at the train while I was traveling around it, so they never found me, and here she was now calling me to let me know they were ok, and make sure I was.
I finished the ride (the first time) in 10 hours even. I ended up with 124.5 miles for the ride proper, and another 5 miles revisiting the train. I also walked probably close to a mile on train track rock. I’m a tired camper.
John and Susan with their new tandem.
Coming up to Orphan Hill at mile 70.
Peachy Keene 200K route