Sunday morning is our usual club ride. But sometimes, the proposed route isn’t one I’m interested in doing. Other times, a more desirable alternative pops up.
That was the case today, when my friend Debra proposed a ride near Dripping Springs, in her neck of the woods. Barbara, a former club member, would be coming up from her new home in San Antonio to join us. Debra’s husband Russ and our pal Jerry would round out the group.
This would be a B-ride alternative to the main club ride. So what makes it the “un”-club ride? Well, see for yourself.
We gather at a nice park on the edge of Dripping Springs. The regular club ride leaves at 8:15. We were to go at “around nine.” At 9:05, we were still milling around, pumping up tires, chit-chatting, putting the finishing touches on our kit. Finally, we rolled out, and made it, oh a couple hundred yards to where a road branched off. Jerry and Russ took that road so they could take a nature break before we really got going. Although we leave from a park, its lack of facilities is one of its most notable features.
Soon we were rolling in earnest, coming up to the junction with Creek Road, which would be our route for the next six miles. Jerry suddenly braked and pulled over. We all stopped to wait for him — all except Russ, who kept going, oblivious to the stop. Jerry had just put new wheels on his bike, and his computer magnet wasn’t properly adjusted yet.
That taken care of, we started rolling in earnest for real now. Another mile and a half down the road, we take a fork to the right along picturesque Onion Creek. Barbara stopped quickly, then Debra. One of the arm rests for Barbara’s aero bars had fallen off. Barbara picked it up, and then she and Debra looked for the mounting screw and nut for the arm rest, without any luck. We were now 1.8 miles into the ride, and had stopped three times. It’s a good thing the weather was glorious.
We were rolling in earnest for really real now. Our aim was to catch Russ, who was well out of sight. Our blistering 12 mph pace probably wouldn’t enable us to do that, so we meandered along, chatting about things that have to do with bikes, and other things that don’t. As always, I enjoy riding through this area. I’ve done it often enough that I tend to take things for granted. Today, I tried to take in the sights and sounds — like this uniquely-named road that met ours.
Debra had suggested doing the Mt. Sharp Road route — one of several options we had in this area. Mt. Sharp was the longest and hilliest of these. I hadn’t been on that road for nearly a year, and was looking forward to riding it again. But in the meantime, we had some hills to climb, some cattle guards to cross, and some more stops to make.
At one of those stops, a whopping 12 miles into the ride, Debra opined that Mt. Sharp was out of the mix today. She didn’t have the energy to ride a long hilly route. The rest of us thought that was a smart choice. We decided to take Longhorn Trail instead, which is considerably shorter, but includes a decent hill that delivers a high speed descent, and winds through the middle of a small ranch.
After the ranch, the route is more downhill than up, overall, and on one stretch we were traveling between 25-30 mph when we rounded a bend and found the road ripped up. the county is going to resurface it, but in the meantime, the existing surface has to be removed. It looked like one of us would wipe out for sure, but we’re nothing if not expert — or lucky — bike handlers, and we managed to stay upright across some bone-jarring road. It probably didn’t last more than a half mile, but it seemed like the longest section of the day. We regrouped for another brief rest stop — this would be about our sixth this morning. We were averaging stops roughly every four miles. Except when we fit one in after only two miles.
Back at the park, Jerry asked me what mileage showed on my computer.
“27.3 miles,” I answered.
“Hm, that’s a problem,” he said. “Mine shows 27.4.”
“That’s what mine rounds up to,” I said. “I’ve got 27.365. I think you’re in the ballpark. Don’t worry about it.”
But Jerry grumbled that his computer just wasn’t right. Debra’s showed 26.6. She wasn’t concerned about the discrepancy in the least.
Once we got all packed up, Debra suggested stopping at a little Mexican restaurant in Dripping Springs for a post-ride lunch. Most of us ordered tall iced teas. Russ ordered a Dr. Pepper (He’s a true Texan). The waitress brought the drinks, except for the Dr. Pepper. Seemed they were out. We placed our orders for food — Russ went for the Carne Asada (thinly-sliced grilled steak) — and chatted about a myriad of non-bike subjects, when the waitress came by again. No carne asada. He had enchiladas and a Coke.
I always look forward to Sunday mornings. Club rides are great. But on days like today, the un-club ride can be even greater.