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Monday, March 22, 2010

Hell Week Day 2: LBJ Ramble

This morning I awoke and peeked out the hotel window to find a glorious sunrise in the east promising another wonderful day of Texas riding. Following breakfast, Mike, Steve, Dave, and I gathered to do the LBJ Ramble. It is a nice ride though not in my top three favorites. Unlike yesterday there are clouds in the sky, and momentarily I forget how quickly the sun burns them up and disposes of them in Texas. No fruitless banging on the shoulders for attention here: the sun will not be denied. I find myself singing a Dan Fogelberg song, "To the Morning." I think how thankful I am to be here in the midst of this beauty as we meander along the river and the park to scenery that is so different than that from yesterday. That is one thing that amazes me about this land, the scenery differences within such a short distance range. Sometimes I forget how very alluring this land is until I once again traversing the roads.

We stop for breakfast and it takes forever, but as Bill points out there is no rush. One of the things that I love about Texas is that it is all about eating, sleeping, and riding. There are no other demands upon me other than to turn the pedals. Soon my eyes are awash with the pink of the peach trees, majestically in bloom this year. Like so many things, it draws me back into time and once again my daughter and I are at the peach orchard, lazing in the sun, juice dribbling down our chins, mesmerized by the droning of the wasps harvesting the fallen peaches. When I canned those peaches, they looked nothing like those from the store that are processed green, but they tasted of summer and of my daughter, her skin as soft as buttermilk as she melted into my arms and once again, however temporarily, we were one again as if the umbilical cord once again attached.

The cows and sheep roam the land here freely fenced only by cattle guards. Upon the advice of the Gregs, I walk the water crossings while the guys ride through. All too soon we are at Harry's. Harry's is one of my favorite stops, strangely enough because of the old curmudgeon who used to run the store. He was not at all accommodating to cyclists much preferring the motorcycle crew. He was particularly unaccommodating to men not even allowing them to use the indoor restroom. I heard him tell one man to "pee on a tree." The woman's restroom here is a sight and for once I have a camera. At this stop we run into the Gregs, the Pearces, and Joe. Joe lets me know he is going to ride the brevet with us tomorrow. I am delighted as I did not expect him to ride with our group this week since he is a much stronger rider than I, but I always enjoy his company. At the stop, Jeff suggests a route that would keep us off of 290, but nobody but me seems interested. The guys accused me of wanting to avoid Gypsum Mine, not at all my intention as I love the climbs in Texas. The climbs here suit my legs without the steepness of Kentuckiana hills. They are long and gradual and normally I can keep up on these hills rather than fading as unfortunately I often do at home.

Steve and I joke back and forth all day about not finishing this century as it is the only ride that will count as a century on the club calendar, and he is out to break my century record this year. Still, we are joking. I already am unable to challenge this year due to obligations, and I am not really sorry: last time took a toll on my emotions and it was only Diesel's company that spurred me on.

Near Gypsum Mine, Bill and Mike break off to do a shorter route with less climbing, but Steve, Dave, and I press on. The sun is hot and it feels wonderful to feel it pummeling me and making me sweat, cleansing somehow. At one point, we stop to rest in the shade, one of my favorite activities when the sun is shining, the air is feverish, and the shade is seductive.

At the end of the ride, we decide to ride over to Nick's hotel to ask about the brevet. We are disappointed to find it is not the course the leads to the taco stand, and I tell the guys I don't want to do this course. I don't remember this course as being particularly scenic, but I have come to wonder how much my course memory is tainted by the fact that I had a broken rib the last time I rode the brevet as well as riding with Greg and Joe who are so much stronger than I. All I remember is chasing them up hills, having problems breathing, and being unable to stand and climb. We decide we will ride our own route to Hunt tomorrow rather than doing the brevet. I am worried about letting Joe know, but Bill is at the same hotel and is nice enough to let him know.

We are disappointed to find the Fredericksburg Pizza is no longer located in the bar, but we decide to eat there anyway. Once again, a long wait, and while the pizza was delicious, I wonder if we will eat here again. We do spend some of the waiting time across the street at a bar and I try to explain to Dave that women don't like to be thought of as "sturdy," a term I normally would use for furniture.
Another good day in the Texas hill country.

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