Normally, I’m a solo cyclist. I come and go as I please and whatever pace I want to ride at. It’s definitely a benefit. It does have it’s downsides too, mainly no one to talk to on long rides. A friend of mine mentioned that the Saturday group ride that he is in is riding to Donna to sample Gonzales Burgers. Afterwards, they’ll hit the Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco. Fifty miles he said it would be. The fifty miles caught my attention as I needed to do a nice long ride as well as the burgers. I also wanted to see how I can manage the long ride with my cell phone as a bike computer. So, this Saturday I’m forgoing my usual ride and doing the Ciclistas Urbanos weekly ride.
The meeting point was an El Patio in Edinburg that seems to be their favorite place. Get a bite to eat while socializing then head on out at 8 am. The mooring ride was very pleasant as it was nice and cool with very little breeze to speak of. I had bought a new Camelback along with new cycling shorts for this ride. I wanted to carry all of my tire repair kit along with room for bananas and an extra bottle of water. I also wanted the new shorts for a nice comfortable ride as my old ones were just that, old.
We worked our way to Sandoval Bicycle & Accessories
bike store, but we were making such good time that we arrived too early. The shop was still closed wasn’t going to be open for another hour. So, we pushed on to Gonzales burgers. One of the members had to go back home so he turned around at the bike shop.
The trip to Donna was nice, still pleasant but getting there we again were ahead of schedule. Looking for something to do to kill some time we spotted an outdoor event at the plaza downtown. We pulled in wand took in the scenery. I took the opportunity to get some lemon aid at one of the stands. Cool and refreshing!
After resting and killing some time with random conversation it was time to head on out to Gonzales Burgers that was only a few blocks away. Many of us have been anticipating to try out these burgers and could not wait to get there.
Upon arriving there, the building didn’t even have their name on it and anyone not knowing would have passed it up. But, they are a local favorite and they are not hurting for customers. We pulled in and setup out bikes outside next to the outdoor tables and went in. It was the pull up to the bar and order type of place. While ordering we saw the patties for the hamburgers as they placed them on the grill. Wow! They were the size of an iPod! One of the group riders even ordered a double meat, double cheese! OMG! Good luck with that. We all went outside to wait as the weather was still pleasant.
What a great day it was to be outside chowing down some delicious, OMG huge burgers. During this time i was looking for a wall socket to charge up my cell phone. I didn’t find one inside nor outside, so I had to stop logging the ride as the battery was getting to low. I wanted to leave some charge available for emergencies if the need arises.
Ride to Estero Llano Grande State Park
Speak of emergencies. One of the riders ran over a wood screw and just tore up her tire tube. It took a while to replace the tube with a used one and we got started again. We didn’t get very far when the same tire went flat. After a quick call to her hubby, she will wait for him to pick her up and meet us at the Estero Llano Grande State park with a new tube to fix her bike. At that point, another rider decided that he had to be getting back home, so off he went back home. The rest of us pressed on into the wind as it picked up a little.
One thing that I noticed is the sheer number of garage sales that everyone is having. All along the route you would see people having yard sales with clothes lining the fences. Hard to believe that they got that much clothes that they want to get rid of. My guess is that they have some sort of business going. The entrepreneur spirit lives on.
The wind picked up after early lunch stop but it wasn’t to bad. I usually push a bigger gear but at a lower 70 rpm rather than my usual 80 rpm pace and I seem to do well with it. We finally make it to the state park where we met up one of the riders that had the flat earlier. Some stayed to help with that while others went to the park headquarters to rest. For me it was an opportunity to find a wall outlet to charge up my phone so that I can log the ride back home.
This was my first visit to Estero Llano Grande State Park and I can say that I really like it. By approaching the visitor center is through a nature trail and you are already exposed to the plants, animals and bird feeders. The actual visitor center is a huge covered deck overlooking one of the main ponds at the park complete with small telescopes, rest rooms, chairs and tables and the visitor center.
The State park is both a bird and an alligator sanctuary. They have one separate pond just for the alligators. While we were there, one of the volunteers came out with a baby gator that was on loan from the Houston area. It was brought over for it to live in the sanctuary for a year, allowing it to grow as much as possible before being sent back. Starting at one foot, I believe it was to get about three feet in one year. At least, that’s what I over heard.
The Ride back
After a good long rest, munching on some ice cream and refilling of water in our Camelbacks we headed on out for our trip back to Edinburg. We would be going into a cross wind about half the time before we turn with the wind on our backs for the final stage of the ride. With my iPhone charged up I was ready to continue logging the ride and was sure I could capture the entire 24-25 miles back.
The ride to Edcouch was a straight line dotted with crop fields, yard sales and sometimes rough roads. This is where my mantra was kicking in, “Baby Steps”. One mile at a time before we finally reached the small community and turned west on 107. By that time our motivation changed to Raspa’s (snow cones) and we were keeping an eye out for one. Passing through Edcouch, none was spotted so onwards to Elsa. It was looking bleak, none in sight. One of the guys called out to a passer-by as to where one was at and by luck it pointed the way. Two blocks later were ordering our cool and refreshing treats.
It was a stand in front of someone home and open for business. I had my Watermelon flavor and the others each ordered their favorite. They had a shady area to sit and shoot the breeze and catch a glimpse of a shy parakeet. Those Raspa’s really hit the spot and everyone was pumped at making the last 12 miles back to Edinburg.
What a breeze it was. With the wind on our backs we were making excellent time. At some point we were doing 20 mph and we still had room for more speed but one of the riders didn’t have the gears to keep up, so we had to throttle it back down a little. Still, he was making good time as well, so I wasn’t complaining. I did slow down to let him catch up and make sure he was OK. He was, he just didn’t have the gears on his bike to keep up that’s all.
When we actually got into Edinburg we started to slow down and take a slower cooling down pace. Finally, we stopped at the town plaza to rest and for me to officially end the ride. Although I had to ride a three more blocks I ended it there as my battery on my iPhone was getting low again. I was happy that I was able to log almost the entire route. I knew I had to do it in sections and if Gonzales Burgers had a power outlet I could have.
This was a good ride in so many ways. Testing out new equipment, iPhone as a bike computer, ability to do longer rides without hitting the wall or bonking out (technical terms for running out of juice and legs turning to lead weights). I was worried that would occur, but through planning I was able to avoid it. I’m also extremely happy I didn’t have any mechanical breakdowns or flats. That is always a plus as I really didn’t test the spare tube that I brought along.
The new cycling shorts was a big hit for me. I stayed comfortable on the saddle the entire time. I know with my other shorts I would have been hurting, so I’m pleased with the purchase of the Canari Gel briefs style cycling shorts. My new Camelback Aurora 2L capacity carried all my gear comfortably and kept the water-cooled a long time (icing it helps too). Apparently, after looking the tag for the Camelback, this model is for women! Didn’t see that until now. Must have been to colors for the bag. I really don’t see how there could be any difference between mens or women version of the packs and I chose this pack because of the bright colors. An all black bag would simply soak up the sun and heat up the water.
The remainder of the group that made the entire trip at the downtown plaza in Edinburg.
All photos courtesy of Deby Moreno.