Monday, December 3, 2007

Independence Ride

This past Saturday Aimee and I rode the Independence Ride in Wallis. As a general rule, I don't like to pay someone to do an organized ride where I usually ride on the weekend, but this was a very good cause. One hundred percent of the proceeds of this ride go to provide America's disabled veterans with the tools and assistance they are not otherwise receiving to enhance their emotional and physical well being. It's one thing to read and hear about our casualties in Iraq and elsewhere. It's quite another to see these brave young men in the flesh.

Before I review the ride, I want to mention the new tandem that I bought today. It's the Flevo tandem manufactured in Holland. It's been out of production for several years, but it still appears from time to time for resale. As regular readers of this blog know, I've been interested in a back to back tandem for the last few weeks. I looked at the Mic Wic back to back. I've ruled it out for now because a new one would cost a little over $8000 and that's out of my price range for the time being. Also, I didn't like to pair of 20" wheels it rides on. My friend Jim Connelly bought one used on ebay and has had no end of problems getting it ridable. So, for these and a few other reasons, I decided to look for a Flevo Tandem. The Flevo, pictured below, sits on a pair of 26" wheels and has a suspension system of sorts. It comes apart in the middle for easy transport. I'll write a longer review once I've ridden a few miles.

Now, back to the ride. Aimee and I signed up for the 60 mile route, but we could see when we arrived Saturday morning that the wind was going to be brutal on the last leg of the ride: 10-15 mph. We made a judicious decision to take the 41 mile route instead. Itw as a goood call. Although the first 30 miles seemed to fly by, the last ten were difficult and seemed endless. Aimee and I both had sore knees after we finished.

Registration took place at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Wallis. Most of our crew had passed this building many times on our Saturday rides so none of us had much problem finding it. Parking and materials pick up was well managed and went smoothly. I say "materials pick up" because there wasn't really a packet to pick up; just a map, a T-shirt and a wrist band for lunch. Breakfast of doughuts, coffee and orange juice was provided. Free lunch at the end of the ride consisted of a barbecue sandwich, potato salad, cole slaw and a drink.

The Army flew an Apache attack helicopter out to support the ride. We saw him coming in for a landing just as the ride was beginning. I've never seen one of these up close before.

The forty mile route was a familiar one to our group. From Wallis we proceeded east to Simonton and then north to Brookshire. From there north to Pattison and then west and south to Sealy. Then we recrossed I-10 and headed to Frydek before grinding out the last few miles back to Wallis.

There seemed to be plenty of SAG support and adequate rest stops. Traffic was light and most of the roads were good.

I will do this ride again next year if it is offered, not becuase it was anything to write home about, but because it is an excellent cause.

Another milestone passed during this ride. I reached my 3000 mile goal for the year. It now remains to be seen how many more miles I can ride before the end of the year to set a benchmark for the next.