Lancaster, TX is just south of Dallas. It takes about 35-40 minutes on the freeways to get there when the traffic is good. Saturday morning the traffic was great! The weather report had not been good all week. We were supposed to get some severe thunderstorms on Saturday. However, we had some sort of "Inversion Layer" that was keeping the rain away and keeping it completely cloudy, warm, and slightly breezy.
This was our first visit to Lancaster. Even though it is close to Dallas, Lancaster is in a rural area in amongst the farm country. They have a very fine town square, with shops and restaurants, all completely walkable and newly renovated. The packet pickup was at the bandstand in the middle of the park. They had great support folks when we drove in directing us to parking and helping us to find the packet pickup, bathrooms, and starting line. Instead of T-shirts they had free biking socks! The ride was sponsered by the Greater Dallas Bicycling Club and the socks were multi-colored with their logo on them. Very nice.
The ride first headed south into the wind. The wind was medium, about 15 mph or so, and felt very good in the humid, warm air. There were many rolling hills, but none very steep or long (that I can recall anyway :-). The ride took us on part of the Bluebonnet trail. This was just at the point where the 45 milers and 60 milers split off. The 60 milers did an additional loop south then came back onto the route near where they left. They stayed on the Bluebonnet Trail for a longer distance (next year we'll do the 60 mile!). The bluebonnets were spectacular! They completely blanketed the hills at that point in the ride. We saw busses traveling on the Bluebonnet Trail taking sight-seers out to see the wildflowers. I believe it was much better to be riding it on a bicycle.
At one point, on the northward leg, we passed High View farms, an exotic animal farm. We stared head-to-head at a camel, llamas, shetland ponies, and turkeys. The camel had no idea what we were and stared and stared.
The wind picked up as the day progressed probably reaching 20 mph. I remember on the way back into town, during the last 10 miles, traveling north with the wind to our backs. At one point we were doing about 20 mph on a flat section in _completely_ dead air! The wind was exactly and perfectly behind us. I could see the trees swaying, grasses blowing, flags flying, but we were in dead calm conditions. I have never experienced this before.
We only stopped at 2 of the 4 rest stops and we got pretty tired. The rest stops were at odd distances apart. We stopped at #2 (19 miles) and #5 (37 miles). This kept us on the bikes much longer than usual, on about 1.5 hour stretches. This was really too much. We ended up much more tired than we were on the longer and hillier Kerrville ride.
This was definitely a keeper! We'll do this one again next year.