Actually, it was just over 61 miles, and we were a tad below 15.5 mph. But that's close enough! I went back through our logs and the last time we did this ride was 1997. This year they parked us at a different part of the Mesquite Rodeo grounds. There was plenty of parking and very easy access. They had lots of volunteers helping us to park and it went smooth. It doesn't get any better than this.
We gave ourselves 1.5 hours to get there and get signed up. We had not pre-registered this time, so we figured it might take some time. Nope. Anne filled out the forms in the car while I drove. There was no delay around the Dallas High-Five, the mongo construction project at the intersection of 635 and 75 in north Dallas. We really expected major traffic problems there. But there were none. So we arrived a little early. We parked and wandered over to the huge building that everyone else was drifting toward. Inside they had well organized tables of volunteers taking signup sheets and money. We registered, picked up our T-shirts, and got our packet of goodies including the map above.
Once back at the car we got our bikes off the top of the car and called Julie and Richard. They and Ronmon were arriving a little later than us. Richard said they had arrived and were walking toward the signup building. I craned by neck over the people and, sure enough, there they were waaaay over there!
There was an older gentleman, he must have been in his 60s, who parked beside us. He had one of those retro Schwin bikes. Big handlebars, seat with springs, etc. He asked me if he should take some water with him. This was his first organized ride. I explained the rest stops every 10 miles or so, that sometime they didn't have cups, and he could take a water bottle and fill it as he went. He looked a little nervous; he was alone! We saw this same guy later on the 60 mile route, tooling along, doing just fine!
The ride was extremely well organized. They had police at just about every intersection all the way through, and there were a _lot_ of intersections on the route. They had gotten professional signs made and had marked _everything_; all the turns had signs, rough road patches had signs, even signs telling the motorists that a bike ride was in progress. Someone had even ridden the route and marked the holes and rough patches on the road with squiggly orange paint that started back and ran up to the rough patch, then circled it. You would have to have your eyes closed to hit any of them.
We rode part of the way with Julie, getting disconnected during the ride, then re-connecting at the rest stops. Richard and Ron took off fast from the start, Anne and I didn't see them again. The 40 mile route and the 60 mile route were the same up to about the 35 mile point. Then the 60 mile route went off on a series of two loops, one larger than the other. Julie called Richard and Ron on Richard's cell phone. They were already at the 55 mile point, so she decided to take the 40 to get to the finish about the same time as they did. It didn't turn out that way because Richard had a cable problem with his bike that slowed them down. Anyway, they were gone before we got back in, although we almost got back in time to wave goodbye to them.
When Anne and I took the 60 mile turn off we were immediately alone on the route. It looked and felt like we were at the very back, last people on the ride. We decided this was because the organizers had scared people off from the 60 mile route with the statement:
"This new route will challenge every bit of your cycling ability as it takes you through the ups and downs of Mesquite, Sunnyvale and Seagoville. This course is recommended solely for the most experienced riders."
Uh huh. We expected major hills. But there weren't any! The Lancaster and Kerrville ride were much hillier than this. Our best guess is that they wanted to keep the slow-pokes (us) off the route so they could shut-down everything fairly early before it got too hot. Anyway, we didn't have any problem with the 60 mile route. We stopped at every rest stop on this rally. We had skipped rest stops on the Kerrville and Lancaster rides and our butts got real sore. This time we decided to see what would happen if we took a little time every 10 miles and rest them. Worked great. Neither of us got very sore and we didn't have any problem with dehydration. I didn't get any cramps in my legs at all.
We rolled into the finish about 1pm. Most everybody else was already gone. Our car was sitting out there alone except for our older buddy who was parked right beside us. He was still out on the road. We walked over to the big metal building where they had setup the signup. They also had long tables and folding chairs enough to hold about 400-500 people. The volunteers were starting to break the tables down and put everything away. The lunch was catered by the Outback Steakhouse, but they had already finished and left. We found about 20 boxes of bar-b-qued chicken sandwiches left over on a table. We each grabbed one and headed over to the drink guy who was still setup and serving sodas and water. We sat far enough back from the break-down crew that they didn't get to our table until we had finished eating. We started walking back out to the car in time to see the older man parked beside us get in his car and start driving away. He spotted us walking toward our car in his rear-view mirror and turned and came back around. Turns out he's a long distance runner (he looked it too). He had done the 60 mile route. He said it worked slightly different muscles than running and he could feel it. He said he was training for the Hotter-n-Hell Hundred where he wanted to do 100 miles. He thought he'd probably try it on a different bike. We might see him at the Collin Classic next week.
This was a great ride. Definitely a keeper. The weather was warm with almost no wind at the start and a light south wind by the time we turned around and started heading north. Perfect.