|steady now mes braves|
Two weekends back I was sans domestique again (Kevin had gone to Washington State to visit his daughter and explore the Olympic peninsula, lucky chap) and had to drive myself (huh?) to Zube for a ride with the Mules. On the drive out Kevin and I often try to give each other ear-worms, catchy music phrases that stick annoyingly in your ear but hopefully help get you up the next hill. When I'm on my own I generally listen to NPR (unless it's pledge week, as it is now) and I was that morning. ABout ten minutes out from Zube they ran a trailer for a programme on the topic of ear-worms - and played Petula Clark's "Downtown" as a prime example. Oh no - would the Prog Rock devotee find himself humming "When you're alone.." all over Waller County?
This was my first chance to see Paddy's new Mules RV in the flesh and what impressive flesh it is, huge, well-appointed and ridiculously over the top. A fairly speedy group had gathered, including Gene, Julie, Adam and Britt, and I could see trouble looming. We set out on the new standard route, which is intended to limit time on Business 290 but in doing so has us on some fairly crappy surfaces. I was hanging in there fairly well and even managed a Kevin-like climb on a couple of the hills.
15 miles in and Britt got a flat, right next to a gas station. I helped him (he didn't need much!) while the others took a break - and then they informed me that there wouldn't be any more stops! Perhaps not for you, I told Paddy, but I'm taking a break at the gas station as usual and you can go ahead without me.
And indeed that's what happened. I made the right turn down to the Exxon, the others went left for home. I had my break and then followed, only to run into a large white lab pup without a collar, who wanted to run and bark at me. He was harmless enough but a bit unnerving. A bit further on and I had the chance to get reacquainted with Kevin's dog that he keeps on a farm on Mathis road, and who is shown with a comrade in arms in the picture. Actually that's Napoleon and Lafayette from the Disney movie "The Aristocats". In my favourite scene, they try to take down Edgar the dastardly butler on his motorcycle/sidecar combination, and manage to get a few good bites in before he escapes. Our normal method for dealing with dogs is to sprint but I didn't have enough in the tank and had to settle for shouting "Go home" at them, with little to no effect. They were also harmless but wanted to bark and prance around in front of me, so I had to hit the brakes and almost came to a dead stop before they let me go.
The rest of the ride was uneventful enough, fortunately, but back at Zube, Paddy had roped the gang into helping rig up the RV, so Britt was trying to start a couple of gas generators while Gene was fitting a cover over the propane tanks. I settled for taking some photos.
Fast forward a week and I'm in Comfort, Texas, a charming little Hill Country town. We had been invited to the wedding of the daughter of a High School friend of Susan's in Boerne, just north of San Antonio, and Susan had found an appealing bed and breakfast a few miles further north. Lisa and Jo, the other two in the high school Gang of Four, took a room there as well and shenanigans duly ensued. I had brought my bike and associated paraphernalia and had found a suitable-looking route on Map My Ride, a 35-mile loop to Kerville. So Friday morning saw me gearing up, a little jaded after a long evening of opening beer bottles and pouring wine for the ladies, but looking forward to new roads.
|very nice patio at the Kerrville Starbucks|
I was relieved to get back into Comfort and hook up with the ladies, who had enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and were now shopping. We had lunch at a very nice cafe with a patio on the main drag. Unlike Houston, there were so few cars on the street that this was really very pleasant. A couple of well-earned beers didn't hurt either. We had another morning in Comfort but that was enough riding for me and I squired the ladies around instead.
The third ride was a few days ago and our last chance for a decent run before the MS150. Kevin was back and normal domestique service resumed, thank goodness. We opted for our own new Zube ride, which also eliminates Business 290 but doesn't have such poor road surfaces. The wind was in our teeth on the way out, which is good, it means we can coast home - except it veered east and strengthened while we were taking our break. This made for a tough run home, but we still managed a sprint when once again Napoleon and Lafayette began their charge. Kevin got in front and of course the mutts latched onto him, leaving me to shout encouragement from behind. As ever they disengaged at the property line leaving us huffing and puffing. We passed a field with bluebonnets and Kevin suggested a photo stop/recovery break.
Back at it for the last six miles and I was really struggling. We did our usual half-mile turns but the speed difference between my turn and Kevin's was getting embarrassing. With a mile to go he took pity on me and finished it out.
So that's it for this year's training programme. I think it has gone well but we won't know until we get to Austin. Wish us bonne route et bonne courage!