Monday, October 27, 2008

The sweet escape...a weekend in Paris

Once again, I'm very sorry my post have been a little far and few between over the last couple of weeks. Things have gotten a little crazy at my real job. Yes, I actually have a "real" job. Surprisingly, it's very hard to make ends meet by writing a free blog.

In addition to having to actually "work" for a living, this was the big weekend of our annual two day Pedal-2-Paris bike ride. That's right, I actually spent a romantic weekend in Paris. Now, I don't suppose it would take any of the luster off of it if I mentioned that it was Paris Texas, not Paris France. I suppose it would, but we had a good time anyway.

Once again, I know I'm opening myself up to ridicule from those readers who live in parts of the country were it really does get cold, but here in Texas, it was cold when we left for Paris Saturday morning. By cold, I mean it was 39 degrees at our 8:00am start. You know how at the start of long rides, or multi-day rides, everyone's excited, and talking, and laughing. Well, there wasn't a lot of that going on at the start of this ride. We were all too busy trying to keep our snot from freezing to our upper lips. As the day went on, it warmed right on up, and we were quickly shedding knee warmers, and jackets, and gloves. By noon, we were all generally in our usual shorts and jerseys.

The ride itself was very peaceful. We were mostly on those back country Texas roads, were you'll see about 1 car every fifteen minutes or so. We actually spent more time counting the wildlife we saw, than the cars we saw. And I'm using the term "wildlife" in it's broadest definition. For the purposes of this discussion, cows are wildlife. Horses are wildlife. In addition to the herds of the wild North Texas cows and horses, we also saw buffalo, and a coyote, several deer, and more buzzards than I really felt comfortable with. When you're 5 hours into a bike ride and you're just really tired, the last thing you want to see is some buzzard staring at you, with that "so how you feeling" look in his eyes.

Once we got to Paris, we loaded up the bikes in our support vans, and drove straight to downtown Paris, for the Pumpkin Festival, or as it's pronounced here in Texas, the Punkin Festival. Doesn't the phrase "downtown Paris" sound exotic and romantic? Well, when you actually get there, it's not quite as exotic as you imagine. Anyway, we figured it was better to go ahead and go to the festival before we checked into the hotel, because if we went to the hotel first, we probably wouldn't leave again until it was time to head back to McKinney on Sunday morning.

After a quick lap around the Paris town square, we went to the local Italian restaurant for dinner. The phrase "the local Italian restaurant" can probably be taken literally. After that, it was off to the hotel. After icing down everything that hurt, (it would probably be easier to list everything that didn't hurt, so I won't actually list the things that hurt), it was bed time.

The second day of the ride was a little more exciting than the first. I try not to complain about the weather, but I feel better when I do, so I complain quite often. I should probably feel guilty about complaining about the weather this past weekend, because on the whole, the weather was absolutely great. Both days started out cold, but warmed up to the mid 70's quickly. Blue skies were the order of both days. The winds on Saturday, were out of the Northeast, but only at 4 or 5 mph, so you hardly noticed it. However, unfortunately for us, on Sunday, the wind switched around to the South, which just happened to be the direction we were riding in.

Like I said, I try not to complain about the weather, but this is the second year in a row, were we've had a headwind both days. You'd think that, by shear luck, we'd have a tail wind just one day out of four. But no, the cycling gods didn't see fit to provide us with anything but a headwind. After about 50 miles on Sunday of riding directly into a 15 to 20 mph headwind, we had stopped for lunch and were just about ready to call it a day, when Bikin Mike Keel had an epiphany. As he stood looking at our two support vans that were going to drive us home, he had a stroke of genius. If we just wanted to get our miles in, what difference does it make what direction we're riding in. We all stood there looking at each other for a minute or two, and we suddenly realized what this meant. No more killing ourselves riding into the wind. We could just turn around, ride back towards Paris, with the wind, for the last 25 miles, finish up, and go home. This was brilliant. With the utterance of that one phrase, Mike had saved the day. That last 25 miles was like a dream, a 25 mile team time trial.

With the completion of the Pedal-2-Paris, our outdoor cycling season pretty much comes to an end. We'll get out for an occasional ride when the weather permits, but for the most part, we'll be in Bikin' Mike's spin studio four or five days a week. We'll talk about that a little more in the weeks to come.

On a completely different matter, this past week, the Nearly Famous Fred Cycling blog had a milestone event. We had our first confirmed reader from outside my immediate circle of friends. A very nice lady from Carlsbad CA left a very nice comment on my post about cyclist vs runners vs triathletes, confirming my suspicion that all triathletes were indeed crazy. That's one.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

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