|hard to see I know but trust me|
Sadly, once again he had a late night (we were both at The Raphael Gadot Trio gig at Ovations, but I left early) and bailed on me. So I loaded up the car and headed out, giving myself the luxury of a late-ish start.
There were a few riders getting ready at Zube but no-one I knew, so I was a lone wolf. That's never a good idea when cycling the back country but in this area on a Sunday traffic is always light and drivers are always very careful around bikers.
I got into my stride quite quickly and began to enjoy the ride. Boys being boys, there's always a little competitiveness when we ride, even though we're all friends, and someone will be pushing the pace. As a Lone Wolf I didn't need to be chasing anyone, although of course I wasn't stretching myself either. I'd brought my camera with me and planned to stop and photo any interesting birds, something else that doesn't happen in group rides.
As I made the turn onto FM1736 at about the furthest north point on the ride, I saw a big group of riders going through ahead of me, almost certainly the Gran Fondo. They were the last riders I saw on this normally busy route until the Exxon. A blast from the past as I made the turn on Laneview - two dogs appeared, barking furiously, right where Sean of the Dog earned his nickname. Fortunately they were slow on the draw and I was out of their range quickly.
Rolling down Laneview I spotted two scissor-tailed flycatchers on a telegraph pole and immediately hit the brakes for a photo stop. I was able to get quite close but the pics didn't turn out very well - the best is on this post.
Just a short run to the Exxon for a break. No other riders were there when I arrived, although someone showed up shortly after me and we exchanged greetings. I ran drainage and imbibition cycles (a little petroleum engineering humour for you) and got back on the bike.
The next stretch was an extension of the normal route. Instead of turning on Business 290 I stayed on FM362 for a mile or two, before turning west and then looping back into Hempstead. I was beginning to feel the wind a bit and was glad to get a boost on the north run into town.
Just the usual run home left, with a quartering wind that wasn't really having much affect on me. I was glad to see the Waller water tower, which meant about 6 miles to run. With the Hockley traffic lights in view, I stood up on the pedals to get some blood flow back into my perineum, and when I sat down I had a flat rear tire! I pulled over, looking for a flat area on the shoulder, but it was all grass, so no choice but to get after it where I was. Rear wheel tube changes are harder but I got it done reasonably quickly. My crack pipe CO2 adapter worked like a charm, what a great purchase that was.
With a reinflated rear I was able to knock out the remaining few miles quite comfortably. Back home for lunch, then I took the bike to Bicycle World and Fitness for an MS inspection, new brake cables and pedals and new bar tape (how did that happen?).