Beauty & the Beast

Oh how I’ve missed the open roads, the thrill of the ride, the peace and solitude of getting out on the bikes. Beauty and the Beast bicycle ride is a fabulous one day bike ride based out of Bullard, TX. It is hosted by the Tyler Bicycle Club and wonderfully supported. There was a number of route and distance options and we chose the longest ride, just over 62 miles.

Jenny on her Bianchi warming up before the ride start.

With cool temperatures and a bright blue sky, we parked at the Bullard High School and readied ourselves for the ride. Today we will ride our roadies, Jenny rides a Bianchi Dama Intrepida and Curtis rides a Gunnar Sport. These are lightweight, fast and fun little play toys. We break out the clip in shoes and dust off the helmets. This is going to be fun.

Sandi K. and Jenny waiting for the ride to start.

We picked up our packets, ate breakfast in the back of the van, visited with a few cyclists and waited for the ride to begin. The Star Spangled Banner played in the background and cyclists lined up for the mass start at 9AM.

We met up with Sandi K., a friend from years past on Oklahoma Freewheel. It was so great to see her again. Sandi opted for a shorter ride today and Curtis & I chose the 62 miler with lots and lots of hills, over 3,000 feet of climbing with just about the same amount of descending. I love hills and this is going to be a blast.

And we rolled, in a mass group of other cyclists. We had to watch for others weaving and bobbing their way through the hillsides. The air is cool and the sun is warm. The bikes fly along the road as we cruised the first 10 miles to the first rest stop.

Rest Stop #1, bikes bikes everywhere. The rest stop is a great rest stop completed with cold water and fruit snacks.

Fully amazed at the ease of these bikes, they fly. We leave behind the panniers and the heavy Surlys. Today is a day where we can just play on the bikes and we both need that. My mind wanders and drifts as we weave through the countryside. I needed this ride. It resets my inner being and the feel of the wind on my cheeks revitalizes me. I find myself smiling, non-stop and I love it. The hills roll and with each passing hill I smile. I love hills, everyone who knows me knows this little fact and these hills do not disappoint. This ride energizes my soul and I find myself in that peaceful place in my head and heart. I am at home, home on a bike and I am happy.

Jenny & Curtis wearing their Patagonia, Argentina cycling jerseys.
We bought these in El Chalten, Argentina.

We stopped at each rest stop, snacking on our old stand-bys of oranges and bananas. These foods have been such a frequent go-to and they work for us. The rest stops were filled with other cyclists and the jerseys we had on started to generate a few questions. The most common was “Did you cycle in Argentina?” Not only did we cycle there we cycled Alaska to Argentina. This often left jaws dropped and led to more questions.

A familiar scene at the rest stops.

Nearing the end we were quizzed by a young man. This led to a conversation that led to “the quote of the day” for us.

Young Man: What do you do? I mean how can you afford this? Curtis: Well, I was a firefighter/paramedic for 30 years and retired. Young Man: I guess maybe I should do something besides work at Walmart. Curtis: Silence. Young Man: Did you carry a gun through them dangerous countries? You know how dangerous this world is we live in. Curtis (with the quote of the day): That may be the world you think you live in but the rest of us don’t live in a world like that.

This left that young man scratching his head, afraid of living, afraid of the people across the street, afraid of anyone not like him, afraid of the world around him. So sad, so very very sad. The world around us is not a scary place. There are pockets of dangerous places, in other countries as well as here in the US of A, the US is not immune to it. Truth be told, the worst aggression towards us has been in the US, not other countries.

The countryside and the quiet roads were refreshing. The hills were so much fun. Springtime in East Texas is spactacular and this is a time of year and location that we will repeat.

At the top of “The Beast”, we slayed it.

The final hill which is the namesake of this ride is a 1/2 mile hill that tops out at an 11% grade. Granted this double digit section was very short but it was a blood pumper.

Augh, Bike Shorts; thanks Curtis for this butt-grab shot.

Today is the first time I’ve worn bike shorts since sometime back in Peru. These padded things kept climbing up my backside and I found myself trying to retrieve them a few times. Top that with a chafe that was not at all amuzing on the whoo-haw, I think this will be the last true bike shorts experience. Maybe my ass is just hardened to where I don’t need them, maybe the bike saddles are just good enough without padded shorts. Bottom line, yea I think I will stick with yoga shorts or compression shorts. These bike shorts have gotta go!

Our road bikes at the top of “The Beast”. These bikes handled this ride today with great ease.
We got finishers medals and a huge pasta lunch after the ride.

We finished up the ride about 3PM, a few others straggled in after us. The hard core road pounders were fast and furious, finishing up a lot faster than us. But this ride was so needed, my legs were happy, my heart was happy, my lungs were happy, my soul sang with glee.

It was good to be back on the saddle.

2 thoughts on “Beauty & the Beast”

  1. “That may be the world you think you live in but the rest of us don’t live in a world like that.”

    That’s a great response. The “I’m scared everything” worldview is most always spouted by people who haven’t experienced travel.

    Looks like you had a beautiful day in East Texas! Hope to see you guys soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s wonderful to be reading about you both again and your ongoing adventures. It must have been fun to get out on those light-weight “toy” bikes for a change, eh? Spring is just starting to appear here in Wales and looking through your photos has made me mighty anxious. That part of Texas looks lovely. Now I’m off to read about that darn van yer puttin’ together! Cheers! – cm


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