It's cold and windy but the roads are quiet and pretty soon we're out in the country. I'm a bit nervous about riding with these two because they ride much faster than I do, but we stick together and ride in a paceline, alternating the lead every mile, and I'm pretty comfortable. After ten miles Paddy starts to cramp up, so for most of the rest of the ride we hold back a little, especially on the hills.
There's a gas station outside Hempstead at the twenty mile mark where we stop and take a break. This always involves detailed inspections of each others' bikes and today's examination revealed that Paddy and Dave need to hose theirs down after several rides in the wet, while mine still looks new. We all agree that it's a great area for riding, better than the West Houston parks we normally use, but a bit remote.
Back on the road and the route puts us on old 290 all the way back to the start, with a few hills and traffic lights to negotiate. Paddy is still cramping so we take it fairly easily. With 2 miles to go, though, as usual he finds a second wind and leaves me for dead on a short, sharp sprint. We dismount, load the bikes and head out just as it starts to rain.
The rain gets steadily heavier on the way back and is really very nasty coming down the Beltway. However, the big surprise was waiting for me when I got back into our neighbourhood - we'd had a very sharp hail storm, with marble-sized chunks coming down. All I can think of is my tomato plants - have they survived? Sadly, no they haven't. Here's the view from our garden door.