P-B-P or Bust: A Border Dash 200k

Well, I wish I was about to write a triumphant ride report of how I totally rocked out on the first qualifying brevet for Paris-Brest-Paris, and as the ride crossed state lines tell some tales of how I rampaged my way through lower Oklahoma like a two-wheeled marauder trying to get my hands on as much extremely weak 3.25 % Oklahoma Budweiser as possible.  Unfortunately that wont be the case. Though I finished the ride within the designated time limit and will receive credit, it was hard, long day in the saddle, and in no stretch of the imagination did I “rock out”. Also, I left my camera in the workshop, so no pics either. My most sincere apologies.

My riding has been sporadic at best the past few weeks. I had a bit of cold the week before Christmas, then the holidays hit, so I have been concentrating more on getting caught back up with building the bikes then riding bikes. Once out of a good riding routine, its hard to get back in especially when the days are shorter and oh so cold here in Texas…. I did a 100k populaire ride on New Years day and just a handful of short rides since then. So, I  basically went into the brevet in far from ideal condition, and basically got through the ride on residual fitness. Ok, enough with the excuses, let me tell you about the ride.

The ride began in Greenville, Texas. I had never been nor heard of Greenville before. As it turns out Greenville is nice little town about 40 miles east of Dallas. My friend Bernie from Trinity Bicycles drove both of us there. It took a little longer to get there than expected, so we arrived with only 15 minutes before the ride started. The group left at 7 am, but it took us some time to get our act together, so we did not leave till 7:30 am(there is normally a 1 hour window that you can start a brevet).  The only advantage of our delayed departure was that the sun was fully up and we did not have to deal with putting on reflective gear and turning our lights on, just to take them off shortly after.

The beginning of the ride went really well. It was a bit cold at the offset, about 32*F, but I was fairly bundled up so it was fine.  Bernie had it in his head that we needed to catch up with the others so he set a pretty swift pace.  It was about 40 miles to the first control in Ector, and we managed to catch up with a few folks before we reached it. We got in and out of the control quickly and started to make our way to the border. We rambled along some quiet country roads, and for about 10 miles the only other vehicle we saw was a tractor.

Once we began to snake around the windy  Carpenter’s Bluff Road, the banks of the Red River began to appear from behind the leafless tree line. We crossed the Red River on the Carpenter’s Bluff Bridge, which is the oldest vehicular bridge that crosses the river. Here is a pic(and the only pic taken the whole day) I nabbed from Bernie’s blog:

Carpenter's Bluff Bridge

There is definitely something satisfying about crossing a border by bike, and shortly after crossing the bridge we were in Hendrix, Ok.  We then took a handful of very quiet narrow roads towards Achile, Ok. The roads weren’t marked very well. Each intersection would only have one of the roads marked, but it was easy figure out the way as  the road we would be on would turn into a dirt road at each intersection and the road we needed to turn onto would be the paved one. Though I wouldn’t have minded a little multi-surface riding.

Achille, OK was the second control and at this point we had done about 65 miles. We actually had made pretty good time for being a bit of shape. We had a bit of breather and then were back on the bike. The route was loop so we were on new roads once again. Unfortunately the second 1/2 of the ride was quite monotonous as we pretty much stayed on the same road for the next 27 miles to the 3rd control in Bonham, TX. By this point we were riding into a headwind, and that’s when the fatigue started to kick in. The crossing back into Texas was over a much less spectacular looking bridge as Carpenter’s Bluff so it was  not as eventful. Once in Bonham we took a little longer break and then started the final leg of the ride. Unfortunately, we still had 40 miles to the finish.

We knew that we would be well within the time limit, so we weren’t too concerned about speed so our pace slowed considerable as we were both hurting at this point. There is nothing like 60 miles of headwind to make your legs burn. Luckily Bernie and I had done a 200k Permanent ride back in November that was so unbelievable windy, that instead of complaining about the headwind we would just say “well, at least its no where near as bad as that Mineral Wells ride we did”.

Though there wasn’t a control there, we stopped 1/2 way to the finish in Wolfe City, TX for a short break. We overheard some ranchers discuss how they were going to pull out an animal that was stuck in some kind of hole  using a noose. At least I think and hope they were talking about live stock.

We kept going towards Greenville trying to out run the setting sun. Well, we didn’t beat the sun, and at the outskirts of Greenville we stopped to put on our reflective gear and turn on our lights. We got to the last control at 6 pm. We had essentially spent every moment of sunlight on our bikes that day. Though it was rough being out of shape, as well as being a bit on the cold side, all in all it was a great ride. The route was great, especially the first 1/2, and border run is always memorable.  If anything, it was the kick in the arse I needed to get going on my PBP training. The next brevet is a 300k on February 12th, so I better stay on the bike because you can’t bullshit your way through these longer rides.

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