Susan's cousin Grady was in town from Dallas, checking out the course for the Iron Man triathlon in the Woodlands he's entering in April (2 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, full marathon...), and he gave me a few packets of Gu chews to try, as an alternative to gel packs. Well, if it's good enough for an Iron Man...
It's been quite a while since I rode out there and a few things have changed. Getting out of town is a little tricky but I had the sense to check the map on-line the night before. The route follows FM2187 for a while but then cuts off onto very quiet country roads. The first stretch had been resurfaced and was blissfully smooth in comparison with previous years. I noted the Confederate flag fluttering above a barn on the way. Come on chaps, the Civil War was a long time ago.
On previous rides out here I've seen some spectacular birds, including a scissor-tailed flycatcher and what I swear was a roadrunner. The bird watching wasn't as good this time, but I also didn't get chased by any dogs, which had been an issue in the past.
This ride has a sting in its tail - a short section with a succession of descents and ascents, one of which usually has me gasping. This time was no exception, but I made it through OK. The ride finishes with a 7-mile run down Route 36, a fairly busy road with a wide (but rough!) shoulder, which is the least enjoyable part of the loop. Well, it was worse than usual this time - the State had decided to turn 36 into a four-lane divided highway, and the construction workers had pretty much done away with the shoulder for a good 5 miles of the section. This put me uncomfortably close to the high-speed traffic. Fortunately, most of the drivers were considerate. But I won't be riding this route again for a while, sadly.
(And I finally managed a blog post about a bike ride that didn't mention the wind. Oh bugger)