Day Three
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Kingsville, TX to Harlingen, TX
95 Miles

Two MMA cadets (Chris Latos and Rodrigo Franco) and MMA's cycling coach Earl Gander showed up at the hotel just before 6:00 along with Harold Compton who would assist Chris in providing ride support. We suited up, took pictures, and got on the road about 6:15. As forecast, winds were light out of the east northeast. We all were feeling good after 14 hours of rest, and we rolled out on the smooth roads headed south. Last year the wind picked up early on and we were struggling to maintain 12 MPH before the first hour was up. This year we were cruising along at 16 MPH almost effortlessly, and we made the 27 miles to the rest area well before 9:00.

Harold Compton would follow along behind Chris, assisting in blocking traffic for us, and then about five miles before an expected stop he'd zip on ahead to set things up and prepare to take pictures as we approached.

No big deal.  I was stretching my neck.

We made two planned stops on the 47 mile stretch between the rest area and Raymondville, and one unplanned stop to fix another flat. The wind shifted and picked up a bit as the day wore on, and by the time we reached the convenience store in Raymondville it was 10+ MPH almost directly out of the east. That's a far cry from the 20+ MPH south wind we had last year, and we managed to make it to Raymondville just a little after noon with an average speed of over 15 MPH. After a long break we headed out again, hoping to finish the ride before 2:00.

Our route from Raymondville put us back on U.S. 77 for about eight more miles, and then followed a frontage road to the planned stop just five miles from the school. The wind picked up a bit more and turned southeast, and we fought a strong crosswind/headwind down to Sebastian. Everybody groaned when we hit the frontage road, where we had to contend with a couple of short, steep hills and six miles of very rough surface to the planned stop.

This picture shows how rough the road was.
Debra's not lost.  If you look closely you can see her wheel directly behind me.

Everybody in the group agreed that those six miles were the most difficult of the entire ride. We were off the bikes for just long enough to stretch and refill our water bottles before mounting up and heading east along Farm Road 508 towards the school. We had expected this 3.5 miles to be the most difficult because of the wind, but smooth roads and the prospect of finishing were enough to lift our spirits and let us ignore the headwind. The last 1.5 miles was headed south again, and we could see the red roofs of the school buildings as we headed in. 

You'd think we could have bunched together a bit better there at the finish.

School was still in session when we arrived, so we didn't get the band like we did last year, but there were some cadets there to meet us along with the General, the local newspaper, and several other members of the staff and faculty. We arrived at about 2:15, covering 95 miles in right at 8 hours, with 6 hours and 30 minutes total pedaling time at an average speed of 14.6 MPH.  Just 5 more miles, and Debra would have broken her best century time once again.

We posed for pictures, submitted to a brief interview, and then loaded everything into a truck for the trip to our hotel. We stopped at McDonald's for some good junk food, and the hotel manager let us sit in the hotel restaurant to scarf it down. She also offered us a free pasta dinner, so after napping for a couple of hours we headed back to the restaurant and had another meal. Then we stuck around and had drinks with other former cadets who were arriving for the reunion. Debra and I retired at 9:00 after getting everything ready for our ride to the school (five miles) for morning breakfast.

Me on Friday morning. My wife the biker chick.
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