Last Sunday, the A riders and the B riders in the club had differing opinions on the day’s route. The A ride leader had called for a route north and west — one that would involve lots of hills. But a guy who usually rides with the A’s called a B ride — a mostly flat route to Kyle, Texas, about 23 miles south of us. It would make a nice 45-mile round trip.
The day was fantastic. A larger than usual group turned out — 22. It was about 55 degrees (13C) with bright sun at the start, and the promise of much warmer temperatures by the time the ride ended. But wait — a glitch!
It seems some of the usual A riders were none too keen on the planned A route. An undercurrent of dissension bubbled through the group. When everything shook itself out, most of the A riders opted to come south with the B’s!
The out-and-back to Kyle is a popular route, and not just among us. Several other clubs frequently take this ride, heading from the southern reaches of Austin out into the country, crossing Onion Creek, passing a cattle ranch where longhorns might be grazing close to the road (Not today, darn it!). Then it’s in to the small town of Buda, where we take a right turn onto Main Street and head into the “historic” downtown. (It’s just a few blocks long, but some of the buildings are old.)
By now, the riders were separating. I was firmly ensconced at the back with my friend David, who wanted to see how I was doing on the steel bike he lent me earlier in the week. We weren’t going to make it to Kyle with the rest of them, because we were hitting every red light possible — and even got stopped by a train.
When we did catch up to the peloton at the turnaround in Kyle, we found another spontaneous modification of the route. Most of the riders wanted to keep going, to Five-Mile Dam. That’s a county park about seven miles farther on. But five of us — David, Laura, newcomer Nicole, Kenny, and yours truly — decided we were going to stick to the original plan and head home. Kenny set a nice pace for us back to Buda, maintaining a steady 17 mph over the glassy smooth asphalt. But David hasn’t been putting in a lot of miles lately, and he started to fall behind. Rather than leave him, I slowed down, too, and let Kenny and the ladies head off into the distance.
We got back to the start, and I chatted with Laura and Nicole while we waited for the rest of the crew to show up. They dribbled in in ones and twos at first, then in a bunch. Now, mind you — a run down to Kyle, or even Five-Mile Dam, is one of the more frequent rides the club takes. I think everyone out there today had done it before, mostly several times — even lots of times. So it amused me to hear the chatter around the outside tables at the coffee shop.
It seemed that everyone discovered something new on the ride.
Judy missed the turnaround at Five-Mile Dam. We like to kid her about her inability to find her way, no matter how many times she’s been over a route. “I wound up riding by myself!” she wailed. “Into the wind!” (All 3 mph of it.)
New York John couldn’t have been happier. “I averaged 18 mph for 58 miles!” he crowed. “That beat my previous best by two miles an hour!” Not bad for a 65-year-old.
But John took his lumps, too, when other riders told how he was setting such a brisk pace on the way back that he led everyone on an “interesting” detour through a South Austin neighborhood. “I think the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of repeating this in future,” noted Donald, a Brit, who led the B ride. “But will we ever remember the turn-by-turn specifics?”
“Geez, when you plan a certain route, let’s stick to it,” said another rider. She wasn’t pleased that most riders added another 14 miles to the trip, although she finished strong with the main body.
As I said, this is a ride everyone has done many times before. But if we can continue to keep the sense of discovery, of newness, of fun — that was on display this day, it’s a ride I wouldn’t mind doing every weekend.
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