Monday, April 29, 2013

Bring on the Benadryl

We are well and truly in the south now and we have the bug bites to prove it.  At dinner two nights ago pretty much everyone wound up with dozens of bites from "no see ems" - tiny little things that bite like mosquitoes but don't reach their full itch potential for several hours.

Last night Jan was my roommate and we were both awake pretty much all night.  Jan tried ice, I tried hot compresses and oral Benadryl.  I must have checked my bed at least 4 times to make sure I was the only one in it - more and more welts seemed to pop up as the night went on.  Jan got up and took a shower at 2 AM and I reapplied cortisone solution several times. 

No sleep and several doses of Benadryl are not the best preparation for bicycling so I went in the van today and raided Walgreens for topicals that will hopefully work better.

Three more days of riding.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


This is a rest day in Crawforville, FL.  Four more riding days left on the tour and my tablet has decided not to work.  At all.  

Posts will be made pending availability of hotel computers.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Almost like being home

Hills and wind were the order of the day.  The greenery is much like the Ozarks forests but the undergrowth here is palmetto palms.  It was a short day of 49 miles and I skipped a side trip to a state park so I could get in earlier and start with my "day off" chores.  I think I am starting to smell the barn.

Only four more riding days till the trip is over and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.  Tired of living out of a suitcase for sure, tired of sleeping in a different bed every night, MORE than tired of hotel breakfasts or eating scrambled eggs out of a paper bowl in the parking lot.  Hoping to never stare another waffle in the face.  Though breakfast at last night's hotel had a new feature - a pancake machine.  You push a button and a freshly made pancake comes out the end of the machine - quite cool, but I guess we are rather easily amused.

Part of my reluctance to having the trip end is that I feel I am finally (and about time) hitting my stride with the riding and I am enjoying seeing the miles pile up.  The other part will be parting ways with all the amazing women I have met on this trip.  Like any group that is together for this long, we have had our discontents and our squabbles, but it has really been an amazing experience to see the group dynamics in action.

I am looking forward to being back home and being able to get some major projects on the house done.  The carport, patio and getting the soffits and trim repaired and repainted will be first on the list.  My fiber studio needs some attention.  There is a bathroom to remodel and a porch to replace.  Then maybe some of the minor stuff that has fallen behind.  I think there is more than enough to keep us busy.  I also want to make some changes to my bike and do some local rides for fun.

I have spent 2 1/2 years concentrating on this tour and now it is almost time to turn my attention to other things - I am sure they will be just as much fun and just as rewarding, but in a totally different way.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Looks a lot like Missouri

Morning dawns on WomanTours

Today's ride was 54 miles and the Florida panhandle scenery looked a lot like Missouri, quite green and even hilly.  The hills are not quite like the ones where I live though, these are long slow ups, followed by brief downhills followed by long flat stretches - no way to gain much momentum (my knees hate me).

The cue sheet read "hard left then hard right".  The cue sheet should have read "hairpin left followed by sharp uphill with no shoulders and oncoming traffic doing their own hard left from a point where they can't see you. Shift down before turning left or risk a 'get off or fall off' moment."  Once you negotiate the hill the hard right is no problem.  It's the little things that make these rides exciting.

Contented cows eating breakfast

Not apple, not peach, but pretty to look at while I ate my Fig Newtons

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Crossing Florida

As we did in Texas, we are crossing Florida at its widest point.  Today we moved away from the gulf and rode in areas that looked a lot like what we saw in East Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.  Very lush green forests, some with ferns for undergrowth.  Mostly we had either dedicated bike lanes, bike paths or lightly traveled rural roads.  Mostly good pavement too, though we did get a stretch of chipseal - just in case we were missing Texas highways.

The weather and wind gods were with us today too.  It started off with warm sunshine, but just as we were starting to feel the heat, it got overcast and cool with an occasional rain drop.  And wonder of wonders - some actual sustained tail winds.  What a treat!

The I-10 bridge is in the foreground with the big up and over in the middle, we took the US90 bridge, the  flat one in the background (about 3 miles between them)

View from US90 bridge 

View under a small bridge under construction (see the rivet?) taken from the metal grating bridge it is replacing.  An unmarked river somewhere in a Florida panhandle forest.

Me and Barbara Kautz wearing our Army Strong jerseys - no, we didn't coordinate to wear them on the same day.  Barbara was an Army Nurse in Viet Nam

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Total change of pace

We started out this morning as usual, breakfast, load the trailer, snack table, get on the bikes and check out with the SAG.  But today was a tad different because our first leg was only 2.5 miles, then we got on a ferry that took us from Dauphin Island across the mouth of Mobile Bay onto a spit of land that connected back to mainland Alabama.  We got a fairly close look at oil and natural gas rigs, some interesting boats and even a dolphin that moved so fast no one got a picture of it.

For a while we had Bon Secour bay on our left and the Gulf of Mexico on our right - and wind right in our faces.  As we got farther onto the mainland, the wind decreased (somewhat) and we cruised through beach towns - which in summer will be FULL of sunburned people and lots of traffic.

Tonight we are in Pensacola, FL.  Annnnd, because Moira bribed me into riding with her in the SAG today, she will be riding (on bikes) with me tomorrow.  Everyone has a price, and evidently mine is a beignet and coffee.  Moira is from Scotland and I admire her for even trying to drive in the traffic here, she does well staying on the right, but some of our intersections are rather confusing.  When you are trying to read a cue sheet and drive at the same time, even more so.

Waiting to load onto the ferry

Bikes everywhere

Natural gas rig (we were told)

Ft. Morgan


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Margaritaville - or something close to it

We are in Dauphin Island, Alabama - ensconced in three bedroom/three bath condos with views of the gulf from front and back.  Pretty posh.

It was a 44 mile ride from Moss Point, MS (a suburb of Pascagoula).  The weather was perfect for riding, but the mild head wind made me feel like I was going uphill and I had shifted so far down to make it easier on my aching knees that I wasn't making much forward progress so I took the SAG for the last 22 miles.  That meant that I got to take more pictures.

Bridge to Dauphin Island

the approach is long and the bridge is not quite as steep as it looks here

the downside, looking at Dauphin Island

At every state line crossing there are pictures being taken - and pictures of pictures being taken

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wiggins to Moss Point, MS

A beautiful riding day today.  The storm blew through last night and we were greeted this morning with temps in the low 40s but bright sunshine and THIS

See that flag?  See that it isn't moving?  The only other time we have seen that on this trip was when it was pouring rain.  Of COURSE the wind picked up later in the day, but for one, brief, shining moment, there was NO wind, not even a little bit.

Today was much like yesterday.  We rode on wonderful back roads through forests with about 95 shades of green.  Very little traffic and a few roads that were spectacular - nothing quite like gliding down a smooth as silk piece of asphalt at 18mph under your own steam, no hills or tailwinds involved.

When we got into more populated areas we had some chasing dogs, the ones nipping at my heels were there before I saw them so there was no time to get off the bike, I just pedaled like crazy til I outran them.  Toward the end of the day (like at about mile 65 of 74) we crossed some high bridges over the Singing River and the Mississippi and some other river I no longer remember the name of.  The reason I don't remember is because it was in such poor shape that I don't even remember whether there was water under it or not.  The expansion joints had the biggest gaps I have ever seen, I didn't notice that they were also at different heights until I hit the other side - I later found out that four members of our group got pinch flats at that very spot.  

Nancy, Cher and I rode together again today and we had a lot of fun together.  We talked to nice people, we ate good ice cream, we stopped when we wanted to take pictures, we enjoyed each other's company and shared the lovely green lushness of this part of Mississippi.  Tomorrow we head for Dauphin Island, Alabama.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Again? What IS it with the weather?

The cold front that blew through last night dropped the temperature about 30 degrees.  It wasn't terrible when we left this morning, but we did need extra layers.  The problem is that the front isn't moving much faster than we are, so it never warmed up.

I got chilled watching/"helping"/kibitzing while Cher changed her tire this morning and never could get warmed up after that.  Cher, Nancy and I had a lovely lunch (shrimp gumbo for me) at a small restaurant in downtown Poplarville, MS.  It was really good, but as much as it warmed my insides, it didn't do anything for the temperatures outside.  When the ride stopped being fun, I decided to SAG the rest of the way.

The scenery was much like yesterday's, but with not as nice roads and more dogs.  The funniest of the dog encounters ( some riders had scary times, we did not) was when a tiny chihuahua started chasing us down the road.  When were past his property, he trotted back to the house with a smug "I guess I showed them who's boss around here" attitude.  He might have weighed all of 4 pounds.

Later, we encountered a wagon pulled by two mules, as soon as I get a picture, I will post it.

Special gift from VERY special people.

This is a picture of me wearing my brand new Adventure Cycling Southern Tier jersey.  It was a gift from Nancy and Emilie in Boston and it was waiting for me at the hotel when I finished my first Century ride.  What perfect timing!  The only thing that would have made the day any better is if Nancy and I had been able to do that century ride together.  I miss my favorite riding partner every single day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hammond to Bogalusa, LA

Only 55 miles today and they were lovely.  The humidity is high here, so we started out cool and clammy  and as the day progressed got hot and sticky.  No complaints about the wind today, no matter which way it was coming from - it kept things drier and cooler.  I did get a bonus tailwind for a while though - at least I assumed that's why I was going 17 mph UPhill.

Everything was lush and green, in some places like a forested park, in others more bucolic.  We also had wonderful roads except for a VERY short stretch where they were preparing it for resurfacing.  Evidently, in Louisiana they enforce their "no passing with a solid yellow line" laws.  Or maybe Louisiana drivers have less of a death wish than the ones we met in TX.  A lot of drivers slowed to a crawl behind us in places too narrow to pass and then waved and smiled as they went by when it became safe to do so.  I never felt crowded over like I have on some other shoulderless roads.

There is wild weather expected in the middle of the night so we are not planning an early start for tomorrow.  We will cross the Mississippi state line about six miles or so after leaving our motel and will enjoy a margarita party after our 60 mile day.  Not quite sure when 50-60 miles became a "short" day, but they are quite enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

St. Francisville

This is a lovely small town with a lot of beautiful old southern houses - I am in heaven.  Some of us are staying in a B&B right in town called the St. Francisville Inn.  Very Victorian in architecture and decor, except for the jacuzzi in my bathroom that is big enough to swim in - or stock with trout.

Some of us strolled around town today, poking around in antique stores and other shops.  I found an old set of interchangeable crochet hooks that wanted to follow me home and then might have had a credit card accident in a store with a nice selection of linen clothing.  I reallyreallyreally didn't want to do laundry or clean my bike so I went out to lunch instead.

I felt absolutely wonderful last night after finishing my century, but today, my muscles are reminding me how hard they worked and how old they are.  Tomorrow is a 92 mile day, so I am going in the van and will clean my bike when we get to Hammond, LA.

Not too many pictures today, but this is our home away from home

Monday, April 15, 2013

!!!!!!!!!!! CENTURY !!!!!!!!!!!!

I DID it!!!!  101 miles!

Good weather (mostly).  Good roads (mostly).  And favorable winds (mostly).

I has a proud.  And a tired.  More tomorrow.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Family day

Took the van into Lafayette, LA today so I could spend as much time as possible with Granddaughter Ashley.  I had hoped that Michelle (daughter in law) and Amanda (older granddaughter) would also be able to get time away from jobs and other activities to visit with me too.  As an added bonus son Jesse arrived from  a job in Florida just about the time I did, so I got the whole package, along with Amanda's boyfriend Dustin.

We had gumbo at Landry's for lunch, then went to Crawfish Time for a crawfish supper.  We spent the afternoon just hanging out and visiting.  After supper, they came back with me and were introduced to the WomanTours troupe and got a look-see at the van and trailer and some of the arrangements we use on the trip.

I had a great time and need to make it down here more often, these young women are turning out so nicely and I love spending time with them.





Jesse, Judi, Amanda

Judi, Amanda, Ashley, Michele, Dustin, Jesse

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Good bye to chipseal.......

We left Texas this morning, and sure enough, as we crossed the state line, the chipseal disappeared.  To be replaced with some of the worst road surface we have encountered so far.  In the first 4 miles or so, we crossed 5 or 6 bridges either under repair or in dire need of it.  I was starting to miss the chipseal by the time we turned onto a better road.

The weather is warmer now, the creeks and rivers are really full and there is a lot of standing water - can't say we saw any of that anywhere else on the trip.  And because it is warmer, there is more roadkill - and it smells stronger.  So far (today) we have seen a nutria, a possum or two, multiple snakes, some animal with shiny black fur, a turtle and assorted no longer identifiable wildlife.  Can't say that I really want to see any of them in a living state, though they might smell better that way.  And dogs.  Some fenced, a lot running loose  - most of them seeming to think that cyclists would make a nice appetizer.

Except for the bridges, everything is pretty flat, we have been below sea level quite a bit of the day.  We continue with the adventures of shoulderless roads and the mostly nice drivers that we share them with.  One of our riders toppled off her bike and into a ditch - evidently not hurt (she didn't go all the way into the water), she wanted someone to take a picture before they helped her up.

Tomorrow I will be taking the van into Lafayette so I can spend as much time as possible with my grandaughter Ashley.  I am hoping that one or more of her parents will be there too.  As for today, my odometer read 79.7 miles.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Do I dare use the F word?

This may be tempting fate, but today's ride was F. L. A. T.   There were even occasional tailwinds.  The chipseal was minimal and was the moderately rough variety.  We did occasionally have to deal with logging trucks, but most of the time we had a shoulder and the temperature was in the 70s.  T'was a great riding day.

We are in Silsbee, TX and this is our last night in Texas.  Tomorrow we will be having margaritas in Cajun country - Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Only three weeks left of this tour and there are lots of mixed feelings - getting tired of some aspects of touring (different beds every night, loading/unloading luggage from the trailer, hotel breakfasts, etc.  But there is also a sense of wanting some aspects to go on longer - the camaraderie, the riding, the having no "job" except riding a bike, the discovery every day of another little corner of this great country.  Reentry may be the toughest part of the trip.  If I sit on a plastic chair in the driveway, will Lew bring me my supper?  And a beer?

Yesterday was my "be grumpy and hard to get along with" day.  It started out dark, cloudy and COLD - then it started spitting rain.  I took a bump out to the first SAG, but it was still cold and the wind had been added to the mix.  I decided to just bag it and take the van in, so I could have some alone time.  I walked to Walmart and bought a pair of long pants (obviously I sent mine home too soon) - adding that to the umbrella I bought in Navasota and we should have excellent weather from here on out.

You can always tell where WomanTours is staying - only one hotel has objected to our  hanging out the  laundry on their railings

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A very good day

We are enjoying our rest day here in Navasota and I knew just exactly how to spend it.  Dolly and I walked downtown to W.C. Mercantile, a yarn and fiber shop.  Stephanie is the owner and was as nice as could be.  She let me browse to my heart's content and paw all the lovely yarn and fiber.  I bought some yarn to make a Fair Isle hat (or two) and a needle so I can get started while I have Moira to teach me the new technique.

And if having a wonderful shop and being helpful wasn't enough, Stephanie noticed that it was about to rain, closed her shop and drove us back to our hotel.  I cast on for the first hat while I waited for the dryer to finish drying my clothes.  Supper at a steak house topped off the day - the margarita was the final touch.

The day started out cloudy and cool, but the temperature dropped about 20 degrees when the rain started and it has remained cold the rest of the day.  Not sure yet what that will mean for tomorrow, but I have the warmer layers set out just in case.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Great riding day

When we left La Grange this morning I bumped out past the "no shoulders, big trucks" part of the ride and really enjoyed the rest of the day.  

We went through Round Top, TX (yes, Still In Texas), site of a HUUUUUGE antique show/gathering/sale.  The normal population of 80 or so swells to 150,000 plus during the week of the show.  It's one more thing on my bucket list, along with Brimley in Massachusetts.  The event was last week but many of the tents/shelters/vending areas are still set up - it runs for miles.

From there we rode through lush green farmland with beautiful wildflowers and the most contented cows I have ever seen. A  whole herd of them came to the fence to investigate the two-footed two-wheeled creature going down their road.  

The roads were winding and had very little traffic and were some of the best surfaces we have ridden on.  And there was wind (is there ever NOT wind?).  The storms up north are sucking the warm air up from the gulf and we had strong southerly winds all day - since we are riding generally east, this is an "issue" for us.  It seemed like no matter where the roads wound or what direction we were going we had everything except tail winds.  I did have a quartering wind for about 0.2 miles, I guess that was my treat for the day. Average wind speed 15-18mph with gusts to 25.  In the few places we had to ride in the traffic, it made things "interesting"  especially on the three bridges we had to cross.

LOVE the Live Oaks - huge spreading canopy

Blue bonnets, dark eyed Susan, Indian Paintbrush

Field of Bluebonnets

Monday, April 8, 2013

What a difference a day makes

Today was a short ride (41 miles) from Bastrop to La Grange, TX.  We started out through Bastrop State Park and if you are ever in this area, I recommend it highly.  Two years ago there was a storm ignited fire and a lot of trees are dead, but the areas that were not affected let you see what it was like before.  They are removing dead trees and have planted a lot of pine seedlings.   I would love to see it 30 years from now - it will be perfect again.

Much of the ride was on bike paths or country/park roads with very little traffic.  There were hills involved.  I climbed everything up to 10% in my granny gears (thanks Chris) but walked up several that ranged from `2-17% grade.  As you could probably guess, that meant that there were a lot of fun downhills too.  The weather was cool and cloudy all day with high humidity, which really feels good after 4 weeks of the desert.  And of course, we got our usual daily dose of "invisible hills" (wind) but it was mostly tolerable.

The road surfaces varied from fair to excellent except for one stretch of US77 that is evidently "maintained" by the Texas DOT.  It was a medium grade of chipseal with a two foot shoulder..........18 inches of which was rumble strip.  It was gusting a bit at that point and traffic was getting heavier so I walked the half mile or so until we got back to normal federal highway shoulders.

Flo is one of our riders and she lives in the Houston area.  Her regular masseuse came up to give her a mid-trip massage and brought 4 other massage artists with her so the rest of us could get one too.  I had a foot massage and my feet feel like gummi bears right now.  

Tomorrow we go to Navasota, where we will have a rest day.  I plan to spend some time inhaling yarn fumes at W.C. Mercantile, a well known fiber shop.  There may be some damage to the credit card.

I didn't get pictures today because my camera isn't polite enough to tell me when the battery is low, it just surprises me.  But Dolly, of course, has lots.  You can see them at

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Still in Texas

My decision to van it today was justified (as if it needed to be) when I saw the roads we were to ride on.  No shoulders, and since we are skirting the very southern fringe edges of the Austin suburbs, the traffic was fairly heavy.  Road surface continues to be poor too - with areas today where they had scraped the roadbed with the intent of resurfacing.  The guides tell us it was exactly like that when they came through here TWO YEARS ago.

I am no longer the slightest bit concerned about miles.  I see absolutely no point in putting myself in danger for some illogical notion of "doing the tour".  There is nothing magical about being on a tour that makes you immune to the hazards of biking, so if the conditions are such that I would declare it "too dangerous" for me to do at home I am certainly not going to attempt them here.

I am still  having fun being with this fantastic group of women - it's fun to see groups forming and rearranging and dissolving and starting over again.  People agree, disagree and agree to disagree.  Sort of like a family......if your family consists of 30 high powered, self-actuated women with minds of their own.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kerrville to Blanco

Today had its moments, some of them good, some of them not so.

Coming out of Kerrville it was quite cool and cloudy with threats of rain.  Once we turned off onto a rural road the ride became quite pleasant, smooth surface, very little traffic and lots of interesting things to see and take pictures of.
Guadalupe River - we crossed it several times today

Historic marker for the Armadillo Farm.  At one time the Armadillo  Factory was a thriving business turning out baskets made from Armadillo shells.

Moira (from Scotland) making new friends

I would LOVE to live in this house, those windows are at least six feet tall

Goat ranch

There were a few small businesses and even a winery (converted from an 1850s cotton gin). Then we got off the rural roads and onto a state road.  Hills (8-10% grade), rough chipseal, no shoulders, relatively heavy traffic, considering the hills and curves - including many motorcyclists.  I think there is a law in Texas that mandates that every. single. hill. will have its own special headwind.  Because of the chipseal, you can't even get any momentum on the down hills to help get up the next hill.  If I EVER complain about the roads around West Plains again, you have my permission to slap me up the side of the head and remind me about Texas roads.

Eventually we turned back onto a rural road.  Mostly the surface was better, the road was wider and there was less traffic.  There were more hills, but not nearly as steep. There was one patch of bad pavement that made me glad I was clipped in.  I nearly got bounced off the bike and if my feet had come off the pedals I would have crashed for sure.  In a few places I could pick up some speed and hoped dearly that those shadows were not concealing potholes.   I was tiring, it was hot and Tim (rider Molly's son) came by several times with top ups for my water bottle and the offer of a lift.  I really wanted to do the whole ride ,but I was grateful that he offered.  Eventually I made it to Blanco and when it turned out that the last  mile was on a busy street with no bike lane, I just decided that I was fed up dealing with traffic and walked the rest of the way.

So I got in a lot of weight bearing exercise because my climbing legs abandoned me at about the 45 mile mark, but I did make the whole distance.  My knees are sore, my shoulders are threatening to climb back up under my ears and I have had enough chipseal/no shoulders/heavy traffic.  I am riding in the van tomorrow - no point in making a miserable day for myself since it will be more (much more, 93 miles) of the same.  And because of one very obnoxious motorcyclist today, I am not anxious to spend any more time with them.  "Hey buddy, if I can feel your exhaust, you are WAYYYYYY too close.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Good news

I saw the therapeutic optometrist today and after extensive exam and testing, his conclusion is the same as mine.  An unfortunate (really?) conjunction of several random factors that led to an untenable situation.  Hopefully not to be repeated.

I am greatly relieved that there is no major problem with my eye, and also somewhat reassured that the problem wasn't the result of anything I did (or didn't) do.  Back on the bike tomorrow, headed for Blanco, TX.

Kerrville is a nice town with friendly people (two offered me rides as I waited for the hotel shuttle), the Y.O Ranch Resort is a very nice hotel with a gargantuan stone lobby area and a very nice restaurant. We've gone rather feral on this ride and have had to remind a couple of people that the bathrooms are on the INSIDE here, not behind the bushes.

There will be more chipseal, but there will NOT be any more mountains.  I should be able to handle most, if not all of the riding from here on in and will get three more chances to do my first Century.

Thanks to all that expressed concern and caring, it means the world to me and helped avoid the "poor me" pity party that was threatening to develop.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Texas Hill Country

For the past two days we have been in the Texas Hill Country - quite different from the dry, parched look of west Texas.  I had looked forward to this part of the tour because I expected it to be most like the Ozarks hills where I do most of my riding.

It is that and then some.  Some of the grades have been in the double digits and quite long - steeper than any of the mountain passes we have crossed so far.  Like the 18% hill going south out of the Square in downtown West Plains........but close to a mile long.  Lots more hairpin turns on roads with no shoulders so I decided this was no place to try figuring out whether my vision problems were resolved.  I did take some pictures from the van but they really don't capture the depth of field necessary to appreciate the awesomeness of this ride.

I see the therapeutic optometrist in the morning and hope he confirms my belief that this is a minor problem that was exacerbated by a specific set of very weird circumstances.  We are in a lovely hotel for our rest day and their shuttle will take me to my appointment and bring me back.  My bike is relatively clean (since I haven't ridden it much) so I will have the whole day to just rest and relax.  I might spend some time window shopping at Lowe's across the street.  Since the hotel doesn't allow us to cook or eat in the parking lot, Linda took us out to dinner in the hotel's restaurant - tablecloths, cloth napkins, drinks in glasses rather than plastic chairs, paper plates and plastic cups in the parking lot.  We even wore clean clothes.

This may seem like an odd kind of trip and an odd way of spending days off, but that is part of the charm, part of the fun and part of the joy.  However.  I DO want to spend more time riding my darn bike!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Party Time

Bubba's Tours is camped in the same area we are staying in and since this is the last time we will be traveling along the same route, they invited us over for an Ice Cream Social.  They even came over and picked us up!

We have supported each other's tours over the past couple of days and this was a nice opportunity for the two groups to get together and socialize.  The ice cream (with fixin's) was wonderful, but it was even more fun to meet their riders and find out more about their tour.

Bubba is the big guy in the blue shirt and he is the one that gave me a ride to the lunch stop yesterday.

There are no easy rides....

Remember what I said yesterday about being in the moment and enjoying the trip for what it is, instead of what I wish it was?  I had a hard time holding that thought today.

We started out from Del Rio for a nice 43 mile recovery ride.  It was cool and overcast and though the breeze was from the east, it wasn't unpleasant.  Some folks stopped in town to visit the bike shop and other stores we haven't seen for a while, but I was just enjoying the ride and didn't really need anything, not even retail therapy.

The first 20 miles were very nice, town traffic, but manageable.  Smooth roads instead of chipseal.  Tanked up at the SAG stop, ate my banana and trundled down the road, riding by myself today.  It soon became chipseal.  This is tar with gravel pushed into it and comes in varying levels of roughness.  Today's was the "shake your fillings out" variety.  And as is typical in the southwest, the sun came out and the winds increased, though still at tolerable levels (where are those westerlies?).

I started having some visual disturbance in my left eye.  Small smudged or pixelated ovals that weren't always in the same place.  Since the surface of the chipseal also looks rather pixelated and the  vibration was fairly severe, it became rather disorienting because I couldn't tell the difference between "normal" and "distorted".  I gave up in frustration and took the SAG the last 10 miles.  VERY annoying.  I am waiting for it to be my turn to ride my bike from point A to point B with no problems.  I think I'm due.

Tonight we are staying at Fort Clark Springs.  This is an old Cavalry post that was decommissioned in 1946 but the old buildings have been preserved and are now privately owned.  It reminds me a great deal of Ft. Huachuca, AZ which was my first assignment in the Army.  The pool is spring fed - a creek runs in one end and spills out the other.  I stomped around the place this afternoon working off my irritation and found a few places that I wouldn't mind living - like the Commanding Officer's quarters.