Day One
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Round Rock, TX to Kenedy, TX
135 Miles

The weather forecast for the next three days was very encouraging:  temperature in the low 80s, light winds, possibly from the north, and not even a hint of a thunderstorm.  We all got up at 5:00 this morning, loaded everything, checked our gear, and hit the road just before 6:00.  The temperature was below 50 degrees, so Debra and I put on our cold weather gear for the first part of the ride.

One advantage over last year is that we had an extra hour of darkness in the morning, and an extra hour of light in the evening if we needed it.  Last year's ride was the week before the time change.  This year, the time change was two weeks before the ride.  Whereas we left at dawn last year, this year it was pitch black.  We had to use lights, but it made for an extra hour of cool weather each day.  A good deal, as far as I was concerned.

The head scarf I'm wearing, by the way, is not for warmth but rather to keep the sun from burning me through the holes in my helmet.  That's one of the few disadvantages of having short and thinning hair.

The first two hours, making our way to north Austin and then through town to the river, was uneventful.  We managed to get off the main thoroughfares before the morning traffic got heavy, and the trip through town was on mostly secondary roads and residential streets.  We lost Chris once when he had to detour around the pedestrian bridge over Town Lake, but he rejoined us at a convenience store for our first break.

The next couple of hours were the worst part as far as traffic was concerned.  We had 15 miles to ride down a major road in south Austin, and then another 15 on some narrow two lane country roads.  We were very happy to have Chris running interference behind us here.  For the most part the drivers were considerate.  We only had one bad patch of about five miles where traffic got backed up, mostly because some wallflower in an old car wouldn't pass and the drivers behind him started getting irate.  One guy in a van almost clipped me with a trailer as he came around us.  I don't think it was on purpose, but rather because he wasn't used to pulling the trailer.  Regardless, by the time I saw it coming I had no chance to get out of the way.  Debra, riding behind me, was not amused.

Craig got a flat about 50 miles in, most likely from running over a sliver of steel from one of the many radial tire pieces we saw on the road.  I didn't actually find the offending piece of metal, but the little pinhole in the tube is a good indicator.  We were only about five miles from our next stop when we had to change the flat.  This is the primary reason Debra and I ride those Kevlar-lined Armadillo tires:  she hasn't had a flat in over 3,000 miles of riding.

Shortly after fixing the flat we came upon another cyclist who had a flat and was walking his bike home.  He didn't have a spare tube, and our spares wouldn't fit his mountain bike tires, so we asked Chris to put his bike on the truck and give him a ride home.  It was only about five miles--a short distance on a bicycle, but forever if you're pushing a bike with a flat tire.  That five miles was one of the very few times during the entire ride that Chris wasn't immediately behind us.

We stopped for a few minutes in San Marcos at a store owned by Debra's friend Susan and her husband.  It was right on the frontage road that we had to take this year because the Old Stagecoach Road we used last year is closed for bridge construction.  Susan also is the person who came to our rescue a few weeks ago when Debra and I got stranded by a thunderstorm 55 miles from home.

We were making good time.  The store in San Marcos is right at 60 miles from home, and we made it there before 11:00.  We all were feeling good, keeping hydrated and fed.  We re-applied sunscreen there at the store and continued down the frontage road a few miles to the Highway 123 intersection where we turned left and headed toward Seguin.

It's funny how we remember things.  Last year I commented on the rough road between San Marcos and Kenedy, saying that I'd never ridden anything that rough for any period of time.  When we headed out of San Marcos, I kept expecting the road to get rough.  I wasn't complaining, mind you, but expectations are funny things.  I wanted to hurry up and get to the rough stuff so that I'd quit dreading it.  I'd just about decided that the Texas Department of Transportation had re-paved the road when we entered Guadalupe county.  Ouch.

In the picture you can see where the previous county's road maintenance begins and Guadalupe County's maintenance begins.  The difference in road texture is quite striking, and every bit as rough as we remembered.  One advantage of having Chris behind us here was that we could move over into the lane a bit and ride in the tire tracks that were noticeably smoother than the edge of the road.

Neither Craig nor I remembered the rolling hills on the road all the way from San Marcos to Kenedy.  We had warned Debra of the rough roads, and we might have mentioned a hill or two, but neither of us remembered the many hills that we encountered as we made our way south.  We stopped in Seguin for a quick break, and then about 25 miles further in the little town of Stockdale--30 miles from Kenedy.  We all were getting a little tired of the hills and rough roads by then, so we made another stop about 15 miles further down the road to stretch and refill the water bottles.

The ride wasn't without its little amusements.  We passed an old closed motel in one little town.  The lettering on the marquee read "FREE POO."  That one kept us laughing for a while.  I would have stopped to take a picture of the sign, but I didn't feel like breaking the rhythm we'd managed to establish.

Texas Highway 123 meets  U.S. Highway 181 in Karnes City, about four miles from Kenedy.  The last thing Craig and I remembered incorrectly was the terrain between the two.  Granted, it was dark when we got there last year, but you'd think we would have remembered the three hills we had to climb before the last long downhill run to the hotel.  We'd lost all credibility with Debra by this time anyway, and I expect she wouldn't have been surprised to see a mountain between us and the hotel.  Craig took off, sprinting to the hotel just like he did last year while Debra and I maintained our pace and came in a few minutes later.

We arrived at 6:00, almost exactly 12 hours after we left Round Rock.  We covered 135 miles in that 12 hours, spending 9 hours and 48 minutes in the saddle and a little over two hours at rest stops, stop lights, and fixing flat tires.  Our average rolling speed of 13.8 miles per hour gave Debra her fastest ever century, and our total time was about an hour and fifteen minutes shorter than Craig and I did it last year.

A quick shower and change followed by dinner at the restaurant next door found us back in our rooms before 8:00 where we prepared everything for the next day and retired for the night.  This was much better than last year when we arrived an hour later and didn't get to sleep until after 10:00.  I woke up a few times during the night to gulp down some water, but overall slept much better than I did last year.  Even so, 5:00 came awful early the next morning.

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