|apparently this is as much of a smile as you get from Bruce|
I haven't been out with Kevin for a couple of weeks - he was away on his annual, boys-only fishing trip to Idaho and then had friends visiting - but I got rides in regardless, none of them blog-worthy. He showed up with his "Mountain Man" beard still intact (you don't shave when you're on a river in Idaho, the fish don't like clean chins) but I imagine Barbara may have a word or two to say if it lingers.
One of my rides sans domestique was with Bruce, a colleague who is an avid water-sports guy (sailing, kayaking, surfing, if it involves water he's there). He bought a decent bike and wants to get into roadie-ing, but he lives on Galveston Bay and the roads (and drivers) are not welcoming, so he came out with me for the Parks loop and enjoyed it enough to come along today as well. Unfortunately he had to drive 83 miles in each direction for today's 46 mile bike ride, but as he says, it's Texas, you drive three hours for a bad meal.
So off we go, on a terrific morning, cool, sunny and perfect for cycling. Bruce (who is 42 years old in hexadecimal) can maintain a pretty good pace on the flat but struggles on anything that looks like a climb, and we realized pretty quickly that we would be waiting for him at the crest of every climb, but that's fine, it's early season and good just to get miles in.
About an hour in, Kevin confided that he had lost faith in the structural integrity of the Mexican Truck (or in his words "it scares me"), after inspection of the seat tube had revealed very little actual intact metal. He needs a commuter, and hasn't ruled out the possibility of another long-distance run (see "The Little Mexican Truck that could" on this blog), so is looking at a Surly Long-Distance Trucker bike (I kid you not) as a replacement. I was very tickled at the thought of Kevin the Long-distance Trucker, perhaps taking a bit part in "Convoy", the 1978 Sam Peckinpah movie inspired by C.W.McCall's 1976 ode to truckers and CB radio. Turns out that Kevin was working as a mud-logger during the CB craze and had one in his car! "Convoy" the country song was a decent hit in the UK too, and started a mini-CB frenzy there. Several of my friends installed sets in their Ford Escorts and drove around Salisbury and environs firing off CB-lingo to each other in broad Wiltshire accents. They all had handles, on-air pseudonyms inspired by "Convoy" and also arguably needed because using a CB radio in Engalnd was illegal at the time. I doubt the "Flying Squad" paid much attention to a bunch of young men who used their radios mainy to agree on which pub to go to next, but you don't know.
So what was Kevin's handle, back in his mud-logging days? Apparently he didn't really understand the concept and used a name from a Jack London novel, via a humorous radio show - Rita B. Not as much fun as "Pigpen" or "Rubber Duck" but there you go.
We rolled on, all together on the flats, minus one on the climbs, stopping at each break point for pie and a pee. I stuck with the latter as I'm not a big fan of the pies they have here, the British ones are far superior - in other words, bye-bye American Pie.
The route merged on to our normal track a few miles before the lair of the devil dog whose "silent approach" attack has come close to taking one or both of us down in the past. We got ready for a sprint as we turned the corner in front of his home but he was not to be seen, presumably either chained-up or dead.
On to Cat Spring road and the last section of the ride. Although the route doesn't go through the "Alpe de Sealy" section, it has some similar, if moderated, topography, and we took the opportunity to show Bruce how to deal with rollers. He didn't really get it though - may take a few more lessons.
We stopped at the final break point (on this route it's also the first) to regroup and for more pie (no thanks). I was actually feeling pretty good and felt comfortable all the way in, perhaps in part because Bruce was feeling the miles (this was his longest ride) and we had to keep the pace down.
This ride has excellent food and decent beer at the finish and we felt like we'd earned it. Home-made meatballs, brisket and chilli, an excellent selection of what appeared to be locally-made sausage and of course pie. We washed it down with St.Arnold's beer and a few tales of derring-do on various rivers. On to the next -