A truck stop with a motel on top and a couple of fast food restaurants is the official starting point. The accommodations are not luxurious, but they are clean and very adequate for our needs. Arriving on Friday night we meet many of the local group for dinner at the Subway. The Lone Star Randonneurs are a friendly bunch. We have a good time conversing with them about all things Rando. They have many big achievers including Dan and Gary who have both completed over 100,000 kilometers of RUSA brevets and permanents. After spending a couple of hours we reluctantly move on to the motel to get some sleep for the 7am start.
LSR 600k Day One
It's a chilly morning (40F) as we take out from the parking area with fourteen riders, eleven of us on the 600k. One rider doing the 400k and two on the 200k. The 300k route would go unused today. The group takes out very fast. I look down to see we are clipping along at about 20mph on chip and seal road surface. This is faster than I care to go this early in the ride, so, I back down some. Paul agrees with the decision to let the pack go. One other rider stays with us, Matt from New Mexico, riding the 400k. We are on the first of two out and back sections. This one being 220 miles long. At the conclusion of which we will be back at the motel. The plan is to take some sleep before starting the second 153 mile out and back.
|Dan Driscoll - RBA Dallas Region|
|Paul and Matt - Day One|
Leaving the control we navigate a couple of quick turns to get to FM 39 where we continue for thirty miles. The terrain is mildly rolling with some longer upgrades of light gradient. I've warmed up nicely and am able to pull us along at a good pace. After a time Paul informs me that Matt has fallen back. Given that we are on different rides, and will have to separate at some point anyway, we decide to continue at our pace, hoping we will see Matt again at the control. The miles tick off efficiently on this section. Before we know it we are at the turn off for the control at US-79. The gas station/market is one mile up. Again the main group of riders is there. Most of them depart a minute or two before us, with one rider, John from Connecticut, lingering a bit longer. John has done some of our New Jersey rides and recognized us. We leave the control at the same time and fall into pace together. There is no sign of Matt.
|John - Day One|
|The speed limit on a two lane Farm Road in rural Texas|
|Making the push to Dawson|
After some miles on a somewhat busy State Highway 31 we are back on Farm Roads. The temperature has steadily fallen. I'm feeling pretty chilled. Knowing we are knocking off the final miles to a hot shower and warm bed keeps me going. Most of our time is spent on FM 667 which features the same chip and seal road surface as most of the other roads. I've become somewhat conditioned to it and am no longer bothered by the vibration and reduced speed. I rejoice when we reach the left turn which takes us through the small downtown area of Italy. Our motel is just the other side of the Interstate. Dan and Stephen are waiting for us at the finish to sign our brevet cards. We agree to meet in the morning at 6am to start day two. Meanwhile, for me it's food, shower and sleep, in that order.
LSR 600 - Day 2
The agreed meeting place for our group to begin day two is conveniently at the McDonald's just beneath our motel. I'm having a bowl of oatmeal. The temperature is a bit colder than the prior day's start. John arrives and we talk about today's ride. Mostly how to deal with the high wind predication. Paul arrives just prior to our start time. By 6am the group is gathered and nine riders take to the roads. Starting out I feel the chip and seal road surface immediately. I guess it will take some time to re-condition myself to it. The pace this morning is considerably milder than the start of day one. A few hours sleep does not erase the two-hundred and twenty miles already accumulated in one's legs. After a few miles we see Matt coming at us at the end of his 400k. I can't help but think it must have been a long, cold and lonely night for him out on the Texas Prairie. I'm happy to know he made it safely with a few hours to spare.
|Sun Rise on the prairie|
|Power Generating plant ahead|
|Houses come with lots of open space around|
There are only three roads involved with the next leg. They all feature similar terrain and road surface, somewhat hilly and chip sealed. Wide tires and cushy handlebar tape are good equipment in this part of Texas. I'm happy I brought the fixie with the Specialized 25mm's and the Bar Phat tape. I have had no issues other than moving along a little slower than preferred.
|Paul with 'bent rider Michael ahead|
As we near the control we see Gary and Charlie, the lead riders, heading back to Wortham. Vicky on the recumbent, now riding alone, is not far behind them. We arrive at the Sunmart in Prairie Hill, which is today's turn-around. Stephen and Sharon with the tandem are there, as is Michael on the other recumbent. I am being bothered by a case of hot-feet. I purchase a bag of ice and sit outside with both feet resting on the cold plastic bag. Since the day has warmed considerably it is not uncomfortable to be using the ice. After a rather long break we head out as a group following the same roads back to Wortham.
Given the reversal of direction we now can enjoy some assistance from the wind. It is noticeable as we work our way up the back side of the same hills. The terrain feels flatter this way thanks to the invisible helping hand from the wind. Combined with the comfortable temperature I am enjoying myself as much as it is possible for a person with three-hundred miles in their legs. On the flat ground the geared bikes are at an advantage with the tailwind. With just the one gear I have to spin faster to keep up. No matter, as no one is complaining. It is all good. We arrive in Wortham having dwindled to just four of us. The tandem along with Dan and Janet are slightly behind.
|Janet on her way to first 600k finish|
|Dan sporting Texas Rando Stampede 1200k jersey|