We had told ourselves last year that we'd leave early on Friday this year and head over to the St. Botolph's Inn B&B so we could enjoy their pool and grounds, and we'd stay over an extra night so that we could go to the Peach Festival and enjoy it a bit more. But things just didn't work out that way. With Anne going to RAGBRAI this year, we _had_ to get home early and do laundry, shopping, and packing. She's to leave on Thursday and time is running out. Also, she needed to get the hours in at work and save the "time bank" for the trip.
Since we'd pass right by Tom and Joyces going over and coming back we decided to visit with them a bit on the way back. So Alan and Maria drove separately. About 5pm we loaded the car up and headed over to A&Ms to pick up their bikes and went to our standard dinner hangout, Patrizio's for dinner. We sat on the porch and ate while waiting for the traffic to let up. We'd need to drive from Plano across Dallas, across Fort Worth and out the other side on I-20 to Weatherford, TX, the county seat of Parker county. The traffic can be bad. But we'd waited long enough and it was bearable.
St. Botolph's Inn is a B&B on top of a big hill that overlooks a large part of Weatherford. From their lawn you can see the county courthouse and most of the town. The Peach Pedal started this year about 100 yards from St. Botolph's! And the Peach Pedal registration was within a 5 minute drive at the middle school. It really couldn't have been more convenient. St. Botolph's is a victorian home with over 5500 square feet. It is unusual because it has a ballroom on the second floor with 30 foot ceilings. 3 guest bedrooms are arranged off the ballroom. A&M stayed in one of them that had a balcony, a sitting area in a raised turret area and a separate sitting room with a TV and memorabilia from Dan Buttolph's (he and his wife are the proprieters) military adventures overseas. Anne and my room was downstairs.
On Saturday I got up at 5:30am with the thought of going over early and picking up our registration packets. Originally I thought I'd bike over, but it was _too dark_. So I drove. Well, I never did find the place to pick up the packets! I was too early. Nobody was out and around to hand out the packets until about 6:30. So I came back and we had a nice leisurely breakfast on the front lawn. It had rained hard on Friday and the grass was very wet, and the humidity was near 100%. But the temperature was very nice and we enjoyed ourselves tremedously. Anne and Maria then took off to pick up the packets while Alan and I got the bikes down from the rack and got things ready for the ride. When Anne and Maria got back we prepared and headed over to the starting line. None of us could remember much about the ride from last year, but it sort-of came back to us as we rode it. The temperature remained very nice in the 80's most of the ride, but the humidity was very high. There was little or no wind (which is very unusual). As long as we kept moving it was great, but stopping could turn miserable after a while. So we generally kept moving and only stopped at 2 rest stops for water and juice.
The ride was (is) mostly flat with some long, easy hills that opened to some incredible views across the farm country in Parker county. The only really challenging hills were at the beginning and at the end. The beginning wound through some farm country on pretty crummy farm roads up and down some fairly steep hills. At the end there were some long straight hills that Maria, Anne, and I "raced" back on (well, raced might be too strong a word :-) At about the 30 mile point Anne suggested that we add about 10 miles to the trip by taking a 100K cutoff near the end of the ride. But we wimped out and stayed with the 40 mile route. This turned out good because my tire shredded when I rolled across the finish line! I zoomed across the line and when I turned to head toward the tents and water I heard a "thump-thump-thump" coming from my rear tire. It had a huge tear in it! The inner-tube was still inflated ok, but the tire itself was torn through. Anne and Maria raced across the finish line and headed for the tents and the peach yogurt. We all waited for Alan to come in then I slowly rolled toward St. Botolphs trying to get there so I wouldn't have to walk very far on these uncomforable bike shoes. Anne, Maria, and Alan came along later. I got about 3/4 there when "Ker-Pow!" the inner tube blew with a loud bang and I walked the rest of the way. Bummer. I'm _really_ glad we didn't do the 10 mile addition. I'd hate to have to take a SAG wagon back. I've never had to do that and I didn't want to start here.
We headed back to St. Botolphs and got showers. They were nice enough to slide the checkout time a bit to allow us to stop back by. Then we headed over to the Peach Festival. This year the combination of warm days in February and the drought in April..June caused a complete failure of the peach crop. Really sad. Maria thought that they should have had a "guest fruit" like plums. But they didn't, and they didn't import any of those California peaches. It just wouldn't have been the same. We walked the festival grounds for a while hunting for food. We were pretty hungry after the ride. We found great corn on the cob, not so great barbecue, and really good shish-ka-bob rolled in tortillas. We gawked at the Cajun food for awhile (alligator, etouffee', etc.) but it seemed to all be deep-fried, so we passed. We heard later that the news casts were advertising peach ice cream at the festival but we didn't find it. We'll definitely look for that next year. And we hunted for straw hats. Anne, Maria, and I got some great hats, but Alan couldn't find on that he liked. The hats took the temperature down about 10 degrees. Finally we'd had enough and headed home.
Alan & Maria took off and we stopped at Tom & Joyce's for a while. Emily was in major hyper mode ("I was SO surprised to see you!!!"). A major breakthrough occurred in that Mia, following Emily's example, allowed both Stewart & I to give her "cookie hugs."
A great ride and we've already reseved 2 rooms at St. Botolph's for next year.