October 23rd dawned with heavy thunderstorms over Burnet County, to the east and south of the Tour de Longneques’ storied route, and more were about 75 miles west of Llano County, but heading northeast. Since a good percentage of the likely riders come from Marble Falls in southern Burnet County, attendance was less than hoped for, as quite a few riders could not believe that the route of the Tour was dry and was unlikely to become wet for many hours. But, even with a good many folks who got faked out by the rain, ridership STILL set a new record.
Hearing a commotion out front, Randy Leifeste, Empresario Extraordinaire, wanders out, spreads his arms and declares something about "let the rains be delayed until afternoon." At least I think it was something sorta like that.
9 of the 16 riders started from Castell - note that have we added a tandem bike to the group, accounting for 2 riders. Still looking for someone on a unicycle to join us.
We had 16 riders, up from 12 in September, which was up from 6 in August, which was up from 2 when Eric Brewster and I did it in late July. Not bad for a militantly unorganized fun ride. Not bad at all. Of the 16 riders, 9 started in Castell and road to Llano and back. 7 started in Llano and rode to Castell. Some of the latter group then rode back to Llano. All but 2 who rode back to Llano did so after Long Necks and brisket. Two rode to Castell, visited for a short while then rode back to Llano without proper Texan nourishment. As there had been rain upstream and the river looked to be running COLD (but as usual it was crystal clear) none of us braved the waters for a curing soak.
Jim Dawes set the pace a couple of miles out of Castell
close behind Jim, were John and Polly on the Tandem, William Stouffel and Gil Jones
Setting out for Llano, the Castell group quickly saw that Jim Dawes (of San Antonio fame and Big Spring origins) would be tough to stay up with.
Polly says she is the motor, but John sure looks like he is working.
Sherry gains on Gil as she enjoys her spiffy new bike!
About 2 miles out of town Jim came past the faithful photographer. About a minute later John and Polly on the tandem passed by, then came William Stouffel and Gil Jones. Close behind Gil was Sherry McFarlane.
Bob passes the first photo station just ahead of Phyllis
Phyllis cruises past.
I had by this point caught Phyllis Terry and Bob Thomas and had Gil and William in sight in the distance at some points. Starting out a couple of minutes behind this time, as I made some last-minute adjustments to my on-board camera mount, I was very encouraged to see the progress Bob was making when I caught him. Phyllis is accustomed to making rides of this length and had advised that she just cruises and that we should not worry if she falls behind a little. When over-taking her, I was pushing pretty hard and noted that she held her cadence pretty constant whether going uphill or down. She knew how to use her gears and maintain an even strain, so I knew she would be fine.
The spectator's gallery might have shown less interest had she known that the objective of this ride involved brisket.
About half way to Llano and Jim is still grinnin'
William seems to be havin' as much fun as Jim!
Heading for Llano we had a slight tailwind and would descend about 200 feet in elevation from Castell to Llano, so Bob, Phyllis and I were making good time!
More pictures and fewer words! Or as a fellow computer geek used to say, “A picture is worth 1K words, which is 24 more than it used to be.”
talk about teamwork and a visual effect! John and Polly show it!
How come Gil looks tired and Sherry is grinnin'. She left him (and me) in the dust shortly after this.
New bikes make happy cyclists!
Bob Thomas blows by with a high-five (and a nervous spectator in the background).
Phyllis goes a-smilin' and a-cruisin' past!
With all the big grins we have seen, one might suspect that Randy Leifeste, empressario supreme of The Castell General Store, had served raw prickly pear cactus burritos for breakfast.
Around Six Mile Creek, Denise and Dave Rhodes ( of Marble Falls ) came roaring by from Llano so fast that Peggy could not get her camera out to get their picture. They were the first of the group ( 7 riders!) which had started in Llano a little later than our Castell start. Not far behind them William Wicker came cruising over the hill heading west, with three more from his travelling group from down around Johnson City and Dave Messer from Llano.
William Wicker heading west from Llano
Not sure if William is doing a scream of triumph as he tops the hill, or expressing some minor concern about these doggone little hills. Or maybe he is practicing his impression of Placido Domingo!
Three more of the riders who started from Llano. Dave Messer, grinning at the front. I have lost the name of the rider to his right, and that extra knee that Dave appears to have is actually attached to William Wicker's buddy Mike
Dave, Mike and the guy whose name I am embarrassed to have forgotten cruise west toward Castell as Jim and Sherry climb out of the valley at Six Mile Creek, heading for Llano and a turn-around back to Castell..
Sorry about the blurry picture. Brenda Wicker on her Greenspeed trike was not far behind the men heading west.
John and Polly, perhaps testing the limits of togetherness on this hill. Actually, when I saw them later they were both grinnin' ear-to-ear, so this must have just been the face of determination.
Gil and I "eyeball" that last little incline visible in the foreground of this picture as we climb east out of Six Mile Creek. That incline is what John and Polly were grinding up in the previous picture.
Phyllis just climbs out of Six Mile Creek Gulch at the same speed she seemed to maintain throughout the ride! She did pass Bob on this climb.
Bob crests the east side of Six Mile Creek Gulch looking like he might be thinking "Hill, what hill?"
Bob caught Phyllis as they approached the Llano Square. At the square there were a couple of pickers set up with their guitars on the Gazebo. They had a nice sound which we enjoyed as we took a few minutes to recover then set out on the 18.2 mile ride back to Castell.
- Musicians jamming (western style) on the Llano square. We figured they had heard that the incredibly famous Tour de Longneques was coming through town and came out for our benefit. – thanks to Jim Dawes, for catching this picture then sharing it for the blog.
When you get to Castell, you are right at 200 feet higher than at Llano, but there is a “high point in between that adds another 75 feet or so to the adventure. Heading toward Castell, the wind was more in our face and had really picked up. There are no pictures from the return ride, but I did get a few shots of the celebrants as we basked in the warm afternoon breeze and sense of accomplishment at having done our ride. William Wicker and the three folks with him had only done 18… but then they loaded up and RODE BACK to Llano, on a full load of Long Necks and Brisket so that they could log the full 36!
In the foreground Dave Messer of Llano demonstrates the proper post-ride grin while Doris clings to the freebie "Where the Hell is Castell" water bottle that El Supremo Leifeste gave each rider. In the background are Mike and Brenda Wicker chatting with John of tandem fame. In the far background Gil Jones looks to refuel at the smoke pit.
Polly (the motor on that tandem) gets a laugh from Dave's explanation of how he survived the ride.
Jim Dawes, our pace setter, is smiling ( the secret handshake of Tour de Longneque riders is a big Texas smile... but don't tell anyone else), having already had a long neck and now changed out of his yeller and black bumble bee riding outfit.
Ready now for serious business of eating Castell General Store brisket, Sherry puts on her game face.
- That look in the eyes! Are they thinking about that 18 mile ride back to Llano.
Bob Thomas and Phyllis Terry came rolling in about 10 minutes behind me. I was astounded… Bob had taken over an hour off the time it took him to made the ride ONE WAY when he rode in the September edition of the Tour de Longneques… but this time the time was for a ROUND TRIP! Way to go Bob! If you don’t understand why I am making such a big deal about Bob doing this, please read the post on the September 11th Tour de Longneques. Then you will have some idea what an accomplishment he had on our October ride.
Bob Thomas and Sherry Macfarlane try to explain to the two locals at their table why anyone would go cycling, 36 miles, from Castell to Llano and back if what they were after was long necks and brisket that were already in Castell. Ralph Macfarlane, getting up, was kind enough to do SAG duty along with Peggy and my mother (Mother does it for the Long Necks!).
- Phyllis loads the bike prior to going for the curative long necks and brisket.
Phyllis Terry, her husband Bill, Peggy and I get focused on the important stuff.
My old high school classmate and worthy friend Gil Jones has done his own report on the October Tour de Longneques, providing some interesting perspectives. I recommend checking that out for some good chuckles about the lunacy of 66 year old ( and some were older ) heading out across the Texas Hill Country in search of validation of our manhood, good cold beer and even better BBQ brisket. I thought we were all crazy when I looked back, from our forties, at our teenage years. Whoops! We are setting new high water marks fairly often these days as we check off items on our bucket list and help buddies do the same on theirs.
I have the good fortune to have both my wife Peggy, and my mother to cheer me on in these bouts of lunacy. Jim Dawes caught us together at the Tour and snapped a quick picture. Pride in these two fine women requires that I share that picture.
Ann Bynum (foreground), Peggy Bynum (the younger pretty one) and me enjoying the moment as the October Tour De Longneques begins to wind down.
Y’all come out and ride with us sometime! It is worth doing.
I like to keep these posts light, but I gotta share something that has been gnawing at me because of the medical situation of a person I care about a lot. I dislike most of what I see happening in our government these days and in a couple of weeks maybe we can banish a few members of the permanent political class as a bipartisan effort. But I dislike even more, what I see of my fellow Americans when I go out in public. I see too many people who appear to be eating and watching TV for the purpose of becoming miserably ill and dying a relatively long, painful, degrading, and expensive for somebody, death. Our country can never again be a great economic power, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and oppression by overly powerful governments, as we have for much of our national existence, if our people are chronically sick because they eat the wrong stuff, and plenty of it since this, even today, is relatively a land of plenty. We avoid real, vigorous, hard exercise, like our whole bodies have evolved to do to survive, though today the mortal threat is on our plate or resting on our couch, rather than lurking in a tree waiting to pounce on us and eat us. These behaviors are sapping our very vitality as a nation, since we are a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. We need to change, but we need to change as free individuals pursuing our on reasoned and legal self-interest, not as a herd of folks who the governing elite tell to “shape up.”
This week this issue became more personal to me. This week I got the worrying news that one of my cousins was having a quadruple bypass. This is the second cousin to go through bypass surgery. I cannot help but believe that, had I persuaded these two beloved family members to ride long rides with elevated heart rates they might have been spared this painful and risky procedure and the worries that will go on with them always. Get off your backsides, get out of your car, turn off the TV and walk, ride a bike or swim as hard as is safe for you at your current stage in life. Maybe don’t eat chicken fried steak with a side of beef enchilladas and a dozen biscuits drenched in fresh butter but maybe once a month. Think of who you might want to do this for. I do it for Peggy, for my mother, and for our grandchildren (our boys are gonna be fine whatever I do). And get out and raise your heart rate and see your neighbors, neighborhood, city, county and state up close and personal on a bike (or as I do in my case, from a Catrike) or in a pair of hiking shoes. My reasons for cycling, sailing and surviving are:
Anna - Age 4 and yes, she has the tiller and I am very proud of her growing skills.
Her love of sailing started here.
Steven - Age 2... I told him to watch for pirates to keep him comfortable on his first sailing experience
Now, you decide who you care enough about to change your lifestyle and be able to live a long, healthy, life with few doctor vists to scare everyone silly. No one else can even help you make that decision. Don’t do it because I ranted about it (like you would anyway). Do it for a very few, really important, people in your life. Only you can know who they should be and whether you care enough about them to get healthy.
There, I feel better having had my little rant.