Like most people, I thought I knew how to ride a bike and how to ride safely (wear a helmet, ride on the right hand side, adhere to traffic laws, etc.). However, I had not participated in a large group ride before, so I still had lots to learn. Fortunately, the MS Society had published some very good information about ride safety. As we embarked from Rhodes Stadium in Katy, I learned very quickly from the experienced bikers in the group that good communication was the key to preventing accidents. In the ride, bikes were clustered within a few feet of each other, travelling at speeds of 20 mph or more. If a rider does happen to fall, then often others will not be able to stop in time, and a pile-up results. I got used to calling out, "Passing on your left!" Bikes don't have brake lights, so verbal cues of "Slowing!" or "Stopping!" are necessary when riding in a group. Dropped water bottles and other road hazards are identified to other riders along the route as well. I only witnessed one wreck during the ride, and because of the good communication it wasn't very serious; no one was hurt.
My strategy for the day was to take it easy on Saturday. I didn't want to wear myself out since I knew that I had a deadline on Sunday. I planned on stopping and taking pictures along the way to document the experience, too.
As the ride progressed, we came to rest stops that were located about every 10 miles along the way. Snacks and drinks were available at the stops. Port-a-potties were lined up for bikers' relief as well.
Here Reza is snacking during one break. At the start, I told him that he wouldn't need that rain jacket any longer, but he didn't listen to me. That's probably why he looks so grumpy.
In my previous post, I mentioned the spectators that were lined up along the way to cheer on the riders. This family provided some musical entertainment as well. Yes, that is a washtub bass. These guys were good!
Since they are a John Deere family, I had to get a picture with them :)
For the most part, the geography around the Houston area is coastal plains, which is relatively flat. On Saturday, we enjoyed a slight tailwind, which along with the 70 deg. F temperature and overcast skies made for some pleasant riding.
About mid-morning, we stopped in Bellville for lunch. Although we didn't ride past it, Bellville has its own castle, complete with moat and drawbridge.
Reza finally removed his rain jacket, so that's probably why he looks happier now. Team Total provided a nice pavilion with sandwiches for lunch. It was nice to have a break from the fray, but the clouds were dissipating, so we didn't stay long at lunch.
As we continued to ride inland towards the center of the state, we began to encounter gentle rolling hills. Here I'm riding in to Fayette County, of which La Grange is the county seat.
At about 63 miles into the ride, the citizens of Fayetteville turned out to cheer us on. We all appreciated the encouragement! I was starting to run out of steam at this point, and needed all the support I could get.
According to my trip computer, I completed 84 miles. According to my legs, I was very very tired. Although I had tried to take it easy, I was still pretty worn out. This was the longest ride I had ever done in one day, and I was glad to have it behind me. We had great weather, and I had no wrecks, no flats, and no mechanical problems with the bike. Reza and I had lost track of each other between Belleville and La Grange, but it turns out that we arrived in La Grange within minutes of each other.
This post has gone a bit longer than I expected, so the next post I will tell about the adventures of camping in La Grange, and the multiple challenges of Sunday's ride into Austin.