After having two stents put in my heart in January 2006, I was looking for an activity that I could consistently enjoy that had more aerobic benefit than playing golf several times a week. I dearly loved playing golf, but seldom found others at our small golf club willing to walk, and riding in the golf cart provided very little of the kind of exercise I needed.
Being 51 years old and having not ridden a bicycle since college, I was actually afraid of riding on the road with automobiles! So, in October of 2006, my wife and I each purchased an inexpensive mountain bike and took it to a local park to ride. After riding two miles, I hurt in places that I could not remember ever having pain before, and I was exhausted. We put the bikes back into the back of my pickup truck for the seven mile ride home. I would have to admit to feeling discouraged with my new exercise hobby.
However, the next time we rode, we were brave enough to get on some residential streets in our neighborhood, and actually rode a little over three miles. My confidence boosted, we actually looked forward to expanding our distance next time! Eventually we stretched the route to 8 miles, then 10, then finally 15, with a rest stop at the halfway point of each extended distance.
Continuing to ride the mountain bikes, by May of 2007 we had built our confidence up to the point of participating in our first organized group ride. Our daughter, Kelly, was living in Indiana at the time, and thought we should build up to the point where we could come to Indianapolis in October to ride the "Hilly Hundred". We knew if we were going to do a "Hilly Hundred" we should get some "Flat Thirty's" done first.
While Kelly was in town during June, the three of us decided to carry the bike by pickup the 20 miles over to Italy, Texas to ride in the "Tour de Italia", a group rally that several hundred cyclist participate in. The rally is sponsored by the Lone Star Cyclists from Grand Prarie, Texas, and they do a wonderful job hosting it!
We left Ennis in a torrential rain about 5:30 in the morning. All the way over there, the three of us talked about whether we would go through with the ride or not. After all, it was our first group ride, and we wanted to enjoy it, and the thought of riding 30 miles in the rain did not REALLY appeal to any of us. As we pulled into the Italy High School parking lot, our plan was to eat some pancakes (a tradition at a lot of rallies), pickup our souvenier T-shirt (another tradition) and ride back home with the bikes still in the truck! However, just as the starting time arrived, the sun broke through the clouds and we decided to ride!
Rhonda was apprehensive about the 30 mile distance, and her plan had been to take the shorter, twelve mile route, and wait for Kelly and I to finish the thirty. But as we were leaving, she said she did not want to be left out, and would ride with us at least to the first rest stop, then catch a SAG (Support and Guidance) ride back to the school.
To make this long story a little shorter, we all made it to the first rest stop and Rhonda felt like going on with us. About the time we left the rest stop, the bottom dropped out of the clouds and it rained steadily on us for the next 20 miles...but we all finished the ride!
We were all proud of what we had accomplished, and it would be the first of many rallies for Rhonda and I.