We left Friday afternoon driving west on highway 180. Its about a 3.5 hour drive to Graham on rural roads. Its nice enough if you can get through Denton before the traffic gets bad. Once west of Denton its pretty much straight west into Graham. We had a reservation at the Rodeway Inn just outside of Graham. Graham is the county seat of Graham County and has a nice town square and some wonderful old homes that line the streets on the way out toward the Inn. We rolled into town about 6pm and checked into the Rodeway. We took the bikes down and stashed them in the room then headed back into Graham to pick up our packets, get maps, and look around downtown. The packet pickup was in the VFW hall where they were also having a speghetti dinner. We got our stuff and drove around town a bit looking at what there was to see. They had a lot of vendors starting to setup for the festival the next day. We found the perfect parking spot for Saturday morning that nobody else managed to find and that left us right at the starting line for the 28 mile riders.
We drove back down through town looking for a chinese restaurant that we ate at 2 years ago. We found it and had a fine meal sharing the restaurant with a little league baseball team.
The bike ride started at about 9am. We parked in our special spot and got all our gear ready and got into line. Don and D'Ann Hunt showed up and shouted "Howdy!" to us. We talked a little and we gave them bad directions to the start of the 40 mile route (sorry Don and D'Ann!). The weather was a bit chilly with a very strong north wind blowing 20-30 mph. The 28 mile route headed northwest, then straight north, then right turn east at the halfway point into a slow curve around to the south and back into town. The 1st half was very hard into the wind. Then at the right turn everything got easier and we blew back into town feeling good and wondering if we should have done the 45 miler? Actually we were glad we had not done it. It headed south out of town for the 1st 20 miles then looped back around into the wind for the final 20 miles. That last 20 miles would have been very, very hard for someone who had not biked at all this year.
At about the halfway point a rest stop had been setup at an old fort. We got water, fruit, and cookies under a very old grapevine that had been trained to completely cover a picnic area. This grapevine was huge with entertwined trunks 3-4 feet in diameter scattered throughout the picnic area and a canopy that covered the whole area, maybe 40 picnic tables. An old metal sign gave credit for the grapevine and picnic area dating back into the 1800s. The sign was thick metal with the words cut out with a welding torch then painted. We asked some locals about it and the fort and they didn't know anything about either! They looked embarrassed. The fort was about 10 stone buildings, some of them had been restored and looked like they were in use today.