Anne and I picked up Alan and their gear at his house at about 3pm on Friday and headed to Maria's new job site, the Tenet building on the Dallas Tollway. Much, much closer than her previous job which was all the way downtown. Maria's job has nice Friday's, providing the employees with a nice afternoon break with popcorn, ice cream, other stuff. Maria brought out some popcorn and caramel corn for us to enjoy. We headed south on the Tollway into downtown Dallas about 4pm or so. Usually Friday's are pure hell downtown, but this day wasn't so bad and we managed to get through just fine. Waxahachie, TX is about 40 minutes south after you pass through downtown, and Italy, TX is about 20 minutes south from Waxahachie. We made reservation at the "Rose of Sharon" B&B this year. Our third different B&B in 3 years in Waxahachie. We found our way there quickly once we left the interstate. It was a victorian house right beside a school bus parking and storage area. Luckily there wasn't much traffic coming and going through the bus area. The Rose of Sharon is a two-story, victorian house with little nick-nacks all over it. Hats, dolls, prints, doilies, vases, small tables, lamps, clocks, stuff everywhere, on every surface and hanging on all the walls (This is a recurring theme with a lot of these B&Bs). We met Sharon, The proprieter, and she escorted us to our rooms. We were to meet Richard B. and RonMon sometime that night, but we didn't know their schedule. For the last two years we had dinner at a small restaurant in the downtown square in Waxahachie, Crazy Horse. They served eclectic food and we always enjoyed it. They had moved this year and were on a different corner in downtown in the 1st floor of an old hotel. The hotel was no longer operating, but the Craz y Horse had restored the 1st floor and it was very nice. Once again we had fine food and dessert.
Just as we were finishing dessert Richard and RonMon showed up. They had been drinking rum and were very happy to have arrived. We talked a bit and they sat for dinner as we headed back to the Rose of Sharon. The B&B had a wonderful, large 2nd floor covered porch that ran the length of the 2nd floor. We took a radio out there and listened to Ranger game for a while enjoying the strong, warm breeze. Sharon had told us earlier that _she_had_ Texas Rangers baseball tickets in Arlington, TX, and that she would be gone until about 11:30pm. Richard and RonMon showed up just after Alan and Maria went to their room for the night. Anne and I showed them around the B&B and to their rooms. Our room had lots of hats all around the room hanging on the walls, and sitting on the furniture. Richard, RonMon, and Anne spent a few minutes trying on hats and finding some that were very becoming on them!
The nexy day we got up early and had a good breakfast at the B&B, checked out, and headed south the Italy for the ride. In the past 2 years we parked along the streets in the neighborhoods surrounding the Italy high school, where the ride started. Apparently the local townfolks had complained about it because this year they had an elaborate parking area setup. They had graded a field near the high school and put in a gravel road that led from the road back to the new field parking area. The field was dirt which was easy to walk, but the gravel was really a pain with bike shoes on. And the gravel was the big stuff. Almost impossible to ride on. And to top it off the cars were a _long_way_ back in the field, a long walk to get out and back in after the ride. The loose dirt on the parking field was to worry us later, about 25 miles into the ride, when a big storm started forming south of Italy and appeared to be moving north. That would have made a horrible mess of that field and certainly would have Tour d'Italia a memorable ride! But the storm didn't move up into the Italy area and we only got a little sprinkle while riding.
The ride itself was like the rest that I remember. That is, I really _don't_ remember much except for a very few items, like the rest stop at about the 30 mile mark, along the lake, with lots of fresh plums. But even though I don't remember much before the ride, _during_ the ride I remember everything! As I encounted the turns, houses, 100 mile visibility vistas, lakes, other things, I tend to remember them all. It's really pretty amazing. I couldn't have dragged that memory out of the ministry grounds at about the 15 mile point. But once I saw it again, it all came back clearly.
The wind was _very_very_ strong this year. We formed a pace line again and charged through the wind. It was very effective (as usual). When we turned around at the halfway point to get the wind at our back, we started sailing back in. With the wind to our backs, we had pretty close to zero apparent wind which makes for a hot ride during midday. This occurred at about the 25 mile point. It's here we started feeling that storm building. It spitted rain at us (very, very light) but moved away to the east. We really didn't even get much shade from it. The wind blew the droplets toward us from the south and we stayed in the sun most of the time.
Here are my lasting impressions: