The pre-ride banter this morning included a detailed discussion of how to handle the dogs that caused some problems on a previous run. Paddy's idea was to dismount and put the boot in. I wondered why we wouldn't just out-sprint them as always? Turns out that during the ride in question, Sean t-boned one of the mutts and went over the handlebars! I found out later that he's displaying classic signs of concussion, and has withdrawn from the big event.
We head out and pretty soon work out that Jason is in top form while Paddy and I are struggling. The ride is pretty uneventful as far as Field Store road, where I spot what looks like a dog running flat-out across an open field, heading directly for us. I'm about to sound the alarm when he breaks across the road without even looking at us and takes off on the other side. I'm pretty sure it was a coyote, and we wonder if he was chasing the Road-Runner. He was certainly going hell-for-leather.
On we go, with Jason pulling all the way. We get to the site of Sean's dog encounter and proceed with caution. The other two are happy to let me take the lead through this section, but there are no dogs in sight. A little while later I hear a yapping in the distance which gets louder. It turns out to be a lap rat of some sort, in the passenger seat of a pick-up with its head out of the window.
We make the turn and head home, with a head/cross-wind all the way. Jason is the hero of the hour again, happily punching us into the wind. Just past Prairie View A&M I get a flat in my rear tire and we pull over for repairs. I use a CO2 bottle to re-inflate (never used one before) and the tire feels over-inflated, but it gets me home.
Easter Sunday rolls around and I'm a lone wolf - Paddy opted for Zube. I was surprised to see wet pavements when I went out for the papers, and it was drizzling all the way out to Sealy. I saddled up and headed out, very grateful for a last-minute look at the map. There's a turn near Sealy that I've missed in the past and it's been a while.
It stayed misty and gloomy all the way round but never actually rained. The roads were very quiet and apparently every dog in the county had opted for a lie-in or was at the Holy Services, because I went unmolested. The road surface on a couple of sections seems to have deteriorated since my last visit and I spent a lot of time swerving around potholes. The wind was quite fresh and out of the South, so I was kiting along pretty happily until Cat Spring and the turn-around. Wildflowers galore provided colourful scenery just about everywhere.
After Cat Spring the routes is very hilly for about 8 miles, and the wind was not helping. I was in my lowest gear on a couple of the climbs but made it through OK. I was glad to make the turn onto route 36, even though I knew that the last seven miles would be uncomfortable due to wind and a crap road surface. Nothing to do but gut it out. Once in Sealy, the road improves dramatically and the relief was remarkable - like taking off tight shoes, as a friend puts it. Back at the car, I realize that the ride has taken quite a toll - I'm exhausted and feel like crap as I run through my post-ride stretches. That will be my last tough ride before the event, I think.