Friday, June 18, 2010

Italy days 1 & 2

Ok, I am not promising to blog everyday on the transcon.  It is not necessarily easy to do.  I tried unsuccessfully last night to get signed on in my motel room.  The room advertises that it has free wifi, but they lie!  I am downstairs in the "lobby" which is a Grandys writing this now. 

First, I should explain Italy Texas.  It truly is in the middle of nowhere.  The Italy Inn is probably 20 room over a Shell (Texaco?) Station.  Grandys and McDonalds is on either end of the gas station and the motel is the second floor.  Nothing fancy - relatively inexpensive and convenient to about 1/2 a dozen or more perms and brevets.  Across the street is another convenience store, Pizza Inn, and a Subway.  On the other side of the interstate, there is a Chevron with a Sonic and BBQ joint.  Dairy Queen is across the street from that.  Add one or two neighbor hoods and a deserted "square" and you have Italy Texas.

I got in Thursday at 3 and met George Eliozondo for the 65 mile Taste of Italy perm at 4.  It was hot and windy!  High close to 100 however the humidity was much lower here than it has been at home so I did not feel the heat as bad. 

Took this pic of a field of sunflowers on our way to Corsicana:

The ride was pretty uneventful.  I enjoyed Georges company.  We had ridden together in 2007 and 2008.  He just started back riding after taking a few months off.  This ride was one of his first rides back in the heat so we took it slow for his acclimation and my "don't need to do too much before my 300k on Saturday".  The route was gently rolling and one I wish we had in our backyard.  It was very low traffic and fairly scenic.  The chip seal was of the Natchez trace size and even had some smooth pavement peppered in.  We saw a really nice buffalo/bison that i will try to get a pic of Sat or sun.  I also could have sworn we saw a purple cow.  It was tan but it in shadows it really looked lavender  .

The route did have 3 miles of construction where the road was just dirt.  It was actually a better surface than the 13 miles of clay pot seal on the Uncertain Times perm.  However, I did slip in the loose gravel on the way back through and took a tumble.  I cut my right calf and bruised my left quad, but otherwise I was okay and the bike was fine - dirty, but fine.  We ended up riding an hour and a half or so in the dark getting back in at 10:20.  I don't like riding at night, but Geo stayed with me and we rode pretty strong at times.  It was very peaceful and I felt safe until we got within 3 miles of the end of the ride.

Today's ride was to Mt. Calm a 75 mile ride out and back to Dixie's Little Stop.  This too is a ride that I would do a lot if I lived here.  I rode this route with Greg "Akigreg" Gross.  He rides a Rans long wheel base bent.  He is much faster than I am but stayed with me for the first 1/2 of the ride.  We talked about all things bike on the ride out to Mt Calm. The was in the 70s at the ride start with a pesky 20ish mph head wind almost the whole way out.  The wind, hill and chip seal combo was really slowing me down.  Fortunately Greg understood and was patient.  We both commented that the tailwind would be nice if it weren't going to be hot on the way back.  For those of you who don't know, cyclists love tailwinds except in very hot weather.  The tailwind creates a vacuum and you are not provided any cooling from the wind in a tailwind.  So with the temps climbing close to 100, the ride would be VERY HOT on the way back.

Dixie's is a small "Ma & Pa" store/restaurant that has been run by Miss Dixie for the last 26 years.  I was fortunate to actually get to meet Dixie as she was behind the counter when we got there.  Here is the pic:

Dixie's is known for their fried pies. They even have a proclamation from the State of Texas saying they had the best fried pies in Texas! I can't eat sweets on the bike in the heat, but I could not pass up buying a cherry fried pie and carrying it back with me.  OMG that pie was great!  I really wish I had another one right now.  If you are ever out at Dixie's make sure you get a fried pie - they have a dozen or so different flavors.
I told Greg to go on back without me.  I knew he was faster than me and I did not want him waiting for me in the heat.  And it was hot.  My computer read 115 at one point - that is the ambient temp coming off of the pavement.  I could tell at times I was moving much faster, but I could also feel my skin burning.  I stopped twice on the way back to put on more sunscreen and one of those times bought more water and ice.  I was glad I was riding alone as I got to just look and ride.  I missed this great sign - make sure you read the small print at the bottom:

Well for some reason I can't get the pic to load.  I will try it again later.  Anyway, it said "Welcome to Milford, Texas home of about 700 nice people and 2 or 3 grouches!  LOL!

All in all the day was really good and really hot.  I just hope and pray these temps don't make it up north or I am going to be in big trouble.  With the wind and heat I barely averaged 13 mph which is a definition of  "ride in sag van".

I am apprehensive about my 300k tomorrow.  190 miles in 100 degree heat is doable but I don't want to have Sharon waiting on me in the heat.  AND I don't want to ride alone at night.  I may only ride out 75 miles or so and let Sharon ride faster without me and hope that she catches back up with me before nightfall.  I will be happy to finish the ride in 18 hours although I should be able to do it in 15.  I just don't think 15 hrs is possible with 20+ mph winds and 100 degree heat.  We will see..

Oh, since it will be late when I get in tomorrow I doubt I will blog until Sunday or Monday.

Hope yall are having nice weekends and I hope it is cooler where you are!


William said...

Great report Michelle! We missed you at the bike shop on Saturday, but it's great to be able to keep up with you through your blog. Someday you can compile all of this into "Exploring the U.S. with a Southern Belle in Spandex."

Those of us back home really appreciate what you're doing!


Michelle said...

Thanks Bill - I like the Southern Belle in Spandex title - I may have to use that! I will actually be in town this weekend, but I think you will be on your mission trip. I hope yall have a great time!