The Good Ride

After my bad ride yesterday, I was anxious to get out on the road again.  This week, the Mamma Jamma training ride was in San Marcos, Texas, 30 miles south of Austin.  The distances were a little longer than they’ve been, and since my wife was playing in a golf tournament today, I was determined to get up really early to drive down there for the ride.

I had gotten the bike serviced after my mishap yesterday, and had a new shifter installed (more on that in the next post). The shop also adjusted my headset and put on a new chain.  I patched two tubes and was ready to go.

The ride had options of 68 and 41 miles. I began to top off my front tire, and the gauge read 60 pounds.  I pumped up the tire to 100 pounds when I put in the patched tube last night, so this wasn’t a good sign.  I opted for the 41-miler even though I had hoped to do the 68.

Once you’re east of I-35 in San Marcos, you’re pretty much out in the country.  Even though I work in San Marcos, I’m not familiar with much of the surrounding area.  We were on two-lane country roads with almost no motor traffic.  The ride was organized this week by a women’s cycling/triathlon club, the “Tough Cookies,” and they provided us with detailed cue sheets and maps.

Still, people got confused about directions.  Early in the ride, our ride leader stopped at an intersection to wait for riders to catch up.  He told me to go another three miles, then turn left.  I headed out, but something didn’t seem right.  I stopped and turned back to him.

“We don’t go straight here,” I said.  “We turn left on this road.”

He double-checked his cue sheet against the map.  “You’re right,” he said.  Like a cowboy turning a stampeding herd of cattle, he rode into the cyclists coming up behind us and sent them in the right direction.

Another ten miles on, the cue sheet said to turn right onto Friedens Church Road.  A young lady stopped at the intersection, right under the street sign for the road.  “We go straight here, don’t we?” she asked.  Oh, well.

One reason I enjoyed the ride was that it took us on roads most of us had never ridden — and they turned out to be great for cycling.  Good condition, mostly — some bad chip seal, but not too much — and the hills were not killers.

At about the halfway point in the ride, we arrived at the hamlet of Geronimo, where a stop was designated.  It was at a convenience store, but we also found a pickup truck packed with cold water, fruit, energy bars — everything you would need and more.  Not only did this ride have sag support — volunteers had stocked their truck with goodies.  We loitered at the stop a little longer than we might have under other circumstances.

This old gas station in Geronimo now appears to be a residence. Maybe.

I was glad to pick the 41-mile distance, because the day heated up quickly.  The humidity was ferocious, and sapped a body’s energy.  But little things kept us moving along, like the shetland ponies in the front yard of a house.  When one saw us riding up the road, it ran like a dog to greet us.  (The ponies were fenced in.  The only dog that got into road just wanted to say hi, and stood wagging his tail at us as we rode by him.)

Back at the starting point, volunteers again pressed food and drink on us.  Bagels with a shmear, energy bars, more cold apple slices, cold water.  As I sat at a curb eating, a young woman dropped a cold towel over the back of my neck.

“I’m giving free massages,” she said.  I signed up immediately.

This would have been a great ride anytime.  After yesterday, it was as good as it gets.

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