Friday, March 30, 2012
By the time we reached the Waller exit on 290 there was already a long line of cars. We finally parked up with about 10 minutes to spare before the start. I had already registered for the ride and Paddy had picked up my t-shirt and bib, so I went to find him while Jorge registered.
There was a good group of Mules at the Stable, all geared up and raring to go. I told Paddy not to wait for us, as we were planning different routes anyway - Paddy was going to ride the full distance, 75 miles, I was planning 55, already a step up from my usual training runs. I met up with Jorge back at the car and we saddled up. Most of the riders had already gone and we rolled through the start without any delay.
It was a beautiful morning, with wildflowers a-plenty, and Jorge and I were in fine spirits as we cruised down the blacktop. We spent the first half-hour passing everyone in sight before reality and a strong cross-wind set in. But we felt strong enough to pass the first rest stop, which was already 13 miles into the ride.
We eventually turned north and into the wind, on the rolling route from Monaville to Hempstead. We shared the lead quite well, and then got passed by a group of four riders. Jorge jumped on their wheel and we kicked up the pace a bit. The group included one man and three women, all riding very strongly. I held back for a few rotations but then, feeling guilty, offered to take a pull. Pretty soon I found myself at the front, just as we reached a downhill/uphill section. Not surprisingly the group split apart (it's very hard to stay together when climbing) and Jorge and I were on our own once more.
The road took us past the Waller County fairgrounds and then we made the left onto Business 290 and into Hempstead. There were a few sharpish rollers to negotiate before we reached the next rest stop in the outlet mall. It was surprisingly quiet for such a big ride, I hardly had to wait for the porta-potty at all. We had a good break - Jorge was feeling it a bit - and then set out on very familiar roads.
We made the turn on Laneview and basically rode our usual Zube route in reverse. The wildflowers were spectacular along here, some of the riders actually stopped to take photos. After a few miles we turned north and off the Zube route. I was staring to get sore and tired and I think Jorge was too. Some of the roads were very rough, which didn't help.
Eventually we turned south and passed the last rest stop, giving us 11 miles to go. We had a few more climbs but nothing serious and pretty soon we were back at the start. We cruised by the Mules Stable but no-one was in yet (they were all doing the longer routes!), so we went back to the car, changed and then drove back to the Stable. Still nobody home, so we got food (pretty good chopped bbq sandwich) and went back to the Stable. Riders started to come in, led by Ryan and Taylor, and before long we had a full complement, drinking beers and swapping war stories.
Back home, and another beer and a nap hit the spot.