The stars aligned to make last weekend's 400K happen. I had a free plane ticket burning a hole in my pocket, I needed a 400K to complete an SR series, and the only one left on RUSA's schedule was down in Texas. DanD, the RBA for the legendary Lone Star Randonneurs, offered a spare bedroom and picked up a rental bike for me. The bike cost $42 for the weekend, and a fine bike it was. The airline would have charged me $200 to fly my bike round trip. I ain't no mathematician but... Pam loaned me a Schmidt wheel, I slapped on lights, a seat, pedals and a couple bags, and away we went.
The weather set up perfectly. We'd be heading into a south wind for the first 100 miles, then turn for a push home as the temperatures climbed to about 80. When you're in the middle of a mild fall like we're having here in N.C., it's hard to wrap your head around near summertime temperatures. I packed so much wool I could have dressed a sheep, right down to the boxer shorts. In the end, I carried arm warmers, leg warmers and a vest.
Eight of us headed out at 7 a.m., including DanD, Mark, Val, Gary, Sharon, Gary2 and Sandy. Dan pointed out the new gas wells going in the ground and the tall fence of a wild animal refuge before we plunged deep into ranch country. Check out these gates....
We took a couple busy roads on the way south, mostly using the shoulder, but came home on exceedingly pleasant farm roads and side roads. There was lots of side-by-side riding.
The LSR riders describe the course as one of their hillier routes. We see more rollers here in the North Carolina Piedmont, but that's not to say the Texas route wasn't challenging. A century of headwinds makes for a long day on the bikes, and rough chip-seal roads knocked a good two miles an hour off our average speed.
Down near Glen Rose we went by the place with the dinosaur tracks, right up the road from the Creation Evidence Museum . You know, the place where the human tracks were found next to the dinosaur ones, or "the original artifacts that devastate evolutionary theory." Got it, but here's a tip. When talking about the scientific evidence of creation, you should probably avoid statements like the "tremendous pyramid of evidence," as everyone knows aliens built those.
You know you're in Texas when you pass this place....
The air for much of the trip was heavy with the smell of dead skunk since every one of em in a four county area had been lured onto the highway the night before, only to meet their untimely demise. They were joined by a couple armadillo and raccoons.
The hallmark of any LSR event is a great deal of call-and-response banter, a road show version of Laugh-In. If "Sock Monkey" Val is along for the ride, you'd best be ready to dish it out as well as take it -- and his favorite target was Dan.
Here's a typical exchange:
Val: Hey Dan!
Val: You know the secret to going downhill fast?
Dan: No, Val, what?
Val: A fat ass and good hubs. You should look into getting some new hubs.
If you fall in with the LSR crew, chances are good that you're going to find yourself in elite company. These guys are working on four, five, six SRs for the season. They have more hardware hanging on their walls than Ace. I'm not naming names, but down here they call 10,000K an off-season. In some years, LSR riders have completed double that distance. Brenda and Mark are both veterans of RAAM. Yeah, I was in with the big dogs, all right. I took a couple ceremonial turns on the front, but mostly I just sat in and hung on when the Texas crew began to dig in the spurs. This was a business trip -- these guys ride a lot of miles and they know how to get 'er done.
The final control was the 24-hour Whataburger, which dished out vanilla malts when we dragged in at 12:44 a.m.
Thanks to all for a great day on the bikes, and to Pam and Dan for their gracious hospitality.