The Pineywoods Purgatory in Lufkin is one of my favorite rides. I remember the fajitas but seem to selectively forget the many hills (mountains to us flatlanders from Houston) that one must ride up to get a hand wrapped around one of those tasty fajitas.
About 500 riders lined up at the 8:00 AM downtown starting line. I was concerned that the weather might be too cool but this was a false concern. 58 degrees at start time with a light breeze meant no leg warmers but a light jacket was in order.
With an Eastex blast from a double barrel shotgun we left the starting line. Lufkin’s mayor offered some encouraging words and a prayer. The fajitas were beginning to get closer. The ride looked easy as I went down the first decent at 37 mph. The ensuing up hill climb at 7 mph meant reality was quickly arriving.
Rest stops were greatly anticipated as I began to add some miles. The first mental calculation said 9 miles was 1/8 of the way to the finish. Other calculations followed as more miles were added to my computer.
This was the first ride on my bicycle with some serious climbs. Most of my previous road bikes had triple cranks. The Mercier does not. Thank goodness I left the Mavic rims on with the 27 x 12 rear cluster. Many hills required, no demanded, the next to the lowest gear and out of the saddle pedaling. A couple of hills looked like they would grip my bike and not let go to the top riding but I put my head down and pedaled over the top. Whew! One more down.
As I neared the last 5 miles I thought the hills must be over. Not so quick. Just to make those fajitas more costly the route threw two more steep ones at me. But I was able to pay the price and rode across the finish line at 1:29 PM for a 5:23 ride time. Not a bad payment for those fajitas. After putting the bike in the Jeep I strode into the Civic Center to get my reward. By next year those hills will be a distant memory but the fajitas won’t be.