April 19, 2003 - Kerrville Easter Hill Country Bike Rally
Kerville, TX
61 miles at 14.5 mph

S. French

The Kerrville ride this year was a bit of an experiment in a couple of ways. We are trying to prepare ourselves for biking 100 miles at the Hotter-n-Hell Hundred this year, so we want to get some long miles in before then. I have always had a problem on the long rides with cramps. On the 62 mile route (100 kilometer) at the HHH last year I got cramps in my left leg at mile 60, just 2 miles from the end! This has happened before on other rides, but it doesn't _always_ happen. Anne and I have discussed it and decided that I don't drink enough water and I don't replenish my salt, potassium, and other nutrient levels. Ok, so this year I have a brand new, easy-fill Camelback, I dropped in at Albertson's and picked up some salt tablets, and finally, I carried a bottle of gatorade on my bike to get other nutrients, with the idea of drinking it early (as Bikin-Mike suggested in his 100-miler class we took).

We had also bought ourselves a new Honda Civic hybrid car this year. Just the weekend before the Kerrville ride I bought new Yakima "Q-clips" so it would mount on the Honda and got it all adjusted and properly fitted. It was solid as a rock. The Honda has a _very_ small gasoline engine (1.3 liter) mated with a 13 horsepower electric motor. The gasoline engine provides all the "maintaining" power while the electric motor provides an "assist" when accelerating. There is a bank of 140 (or so) batteries hidden behind the rear seats. the gasoline motor recharges the batteries when lightly loaded, and the Honda has "regenerative braking" where the brakes run the electric motor in reverse to recharge the batteries and recover all that stopping energy. The Honda is very conventional 4-door car otherwise. You wouldn't know it was a hybrid except the markings on the bumper and the fact that the rear-seat doesn't fold down. There is still a trunk, 4-doors, stereo, shift lever, etc. Everything looks normal inside. It's when one drives it that things are different. The gasoline motor turns completely off at stop-lights, then restarts quietly and instantly when I lift my foot off the brake, and off one goes with no hestitation! It is completely quiet when stopped. Anne and I whisper at each other. Also, it has a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that is used to maximize the fuel economy. There are no "shift points" at all. The car smoothly accelerates from zero to 65 (or whatever) without making any clunky shift noises. The Wednesday before we drove to Kerrville I drove over to Lockheed on the west side of Fort Worth and got 51 miles per gallon overall on that trip, going 65-70 mph all the way.

Ok, so you might think that putting the bikes on top would have an effect on a car, but it didn't have much of a noticable effect on our old Toyota Avalon, except the wind noise was a bit louder. On the Honda it had a _tremendous_ effect! Admittedly we had a 20 mph south wind (a head wind on the way to Kerrville), but the car could barely do 65 mph with the bikes up there! At 65 the batteries drained almost to zero and stayed down there. If I forced the car to 70 mph the gasoline engine would whine and struggle and the electric motor would provide no help since the batteries were mostly always drained. Clearly this Honda has been carefully engineered for maximum efficiency at highway speeds without the kind of drag the bikes placed on it. We hoped that we would get a tailwind on the way back home, but weather conditions had changed and we had _another_ headwind (it had switched 180 degrees and was from the north) on the way home. Overall we averaged 26 miles per gallon over the 650 miles; way, way below the 51 on my trip to Lockheed. Bummer. now I have a set of Q-Clips on order for our other car (Volkswagen Passat with a 6-cylinder engine).

Again this year we planned to meet up with Richard, Karen, Tony, and Rosie in Fredericksburg Saturday evening at Altdorff's bier garten. We arrived about 6pm and dropped by Ghasthous-Schmidt to pickup our key, then drove around the block to our house. This year we chose another guest-house in town within easy walking distance to everything. We didn't want to have to drive around town looking for parking and worrying about our beer drinking habits. The place we got was called the Hotopp House 1914 Suite. It was an old remodeled house turned into two suites, one on the front of the house, the other on the back (the Fireplace Suite). This place exactly met our needs. It had a nice bedroom, separate bath _with_a_shower_, full kitchen, sitting room, and covered front porch. And it was within walking distance of everything in town.

We got settled in and walked on up to Altdorfs to wait for the others. We got some beers and sat outside to wait. After 30 minutes we went ahead and grabbed a table and ordered more beers and appetizers. Before the appetizers arrived Richard and Karen showed up! We sat and talked a bit, then here came Tony and Rosie! They all 4 had been shopping at the outlet malls in Hillsborough, then Tony and Rosie took a long round-about route through Austin experimenting with the route, and coming in from the east side of Fredericksburg. We ate, chatted, drank some beers then headed to our houses.

Saturday morning was overcast and warm. There was a light breeze, nothing like Friday's wind, that stayed with us all day long. It was very nice biking weather. We drove south from Fredericksburg to Kerrville to Shriner University. Hey! It _used_to_be_ Shriner College, but now it is a University. Wonder how that happened? We parked and walked over to the registration building to pick up our packets. There were people milling all about, some eating the provided "pancake breakfast", others chatting with friends. We got our packets, Anne got her medium T-shirt again (yayh!), I got my x-large. We looked over the map trying to figure out where the route went and how to get started. This was a route we had never seen before. From the map, it says:

Yep, that about sums it up. Except for a few points. I drank and drank and drank, first my Gatorade, then my water. I refilled my Camelback at every rest stop. However, I did not take my salt tablets. I decided that I would try drinking tons of liquid first and see if that solved my problem. It didn't. At the 58 mile point I again got cramps in my left leg. Ok, next ride I'll take the salt tablets too. One side effect was that I had to pee _a_lot_ ! This was a problem due to the long distances between the rest stops. Thanks god for that Shell station.

After the ride we loaded back up and headed out for lunch. Like last year we stopped at Schlotskys to eat. There were other bikers there and we talked with them for a while eating lunch. Maybe 2:30pm we headed back to our house for a long hot shower and an afternoon snooze.

That night for dinner we found a restaurant in town and sat outside on their porch with Tony, Rose, Richard, and Karen. We talked for a long while then did a "tour of homes" to see where the others were staying. Tony and Rosie's house was the hands-down winner! It was a brand-new one bedroom detached apartment. Tile floors, bead board walls, and an unbelievable, huge Jacuzzi hot tub in the bedroom on the second floor. It had a full kitchen, breakfast area, and living room with cable TV and a phone. Great place!