Tragically on our first ride together, with a full compliment of Anglo Mules - Karen had a horrific accident. She had to be flown by helicopter to Herman Memorial Hospital with serious head injuries. (Thankfully she is now well on her way to recovery and on behalf of the Mules we all wish her a speedy recovery)
As a cyclist you are constantly aware of the risk of being on a bike.
Cycing can be a dangerous in all its forms and accidents can and do occur anywhere and at anytime. Every year hundreds of cyclists take part in the Tour de France knowing that some of them will not finish due to some serious injury. I am sure Antonio Fletcha did not expect to have his tour ended by the reckless driving of an impatient French Television Crew.
I am ceratin that some TV producers are more interested in recording the carnaage than the cadence at times.
I think that when you are involved in a serious accienent or have witnessed one as was the case with Karen then you fully appreciate the potential for risk in all its forms.
In Karens case it was a pace line 'wheel touch', but as we all know acccidents can be caused by a variety of things. Mechanical faults, Road surface, other road users and your reactions to all of them.
In true British Spirit Simon and Karen wanted 'The show to go on' so we hitched up the Mule Trailer and headed out of town.
When I was 7 years old I lived in Fort Worth for three years as my father was there with work. last year we revisited on our way to the ride having luch in the old stock yard area.
We loved it so much that it was inevitable that we would revisit. With saddles for bar stools, great beer and fine food it was the perfect lunch stop.
After lunch we headed north and as we did so the teperature rose from an already scorcing 103 degrees.
............... 105 degrees the surrounding land was brown where the lush grass had been burnt many months previous
............107 degrees the ocaisional wooded or forrest area were populated with chared black trees, burnt to the truck by fires and giving the appeareance of hundreds of Totem Poles
............109 a constant mirage appeared in every distant hollow where I was half expecting to see Bing Crosby and Bob Hope
112 degrees ...................that enough I shouted to Kenny asking him to stop at a gas station for a drink. I was not thirsty but wished to drink out of respect for natures heat.
As we got closer to Witchita Falls the lanes became full of assorted vehicles carrying bikes. It was a truly fine sight although I have to admit there was no other convoy which could compare to the Mule wagon Train.
Once at Witchita the Mules required water and hay before rest. That translated to water and Pasta for most but for Kenny and I it was Shiner and more shiner with some strange food chucked into the mix. I was hydrating myself after all.
We elected to start at 6.15 to avoid the heat of the day........well as much as we could. The Mules set off at a blistering pace of 20 mph which in traffic was quite remarkable.
We all wore pink ribbons on our helmets to acknowledge that our thoughts and prayers were with Katren and Simon.
With the combination of speed and congestion and the associated fear of crashing Joanne was our first casulty SAGGING after 35 miles leaving me the only Anglo Mule left.
As the sun came up the suffering started and having our progress hampered by a succession of punctures the temperatures were soon over 100 degrees. Although cycling jerseys have three pockets at the rear I have only ever used one however I soon realised that if you filled the others ful of ice and did the same with your helmet at each stop then you could manage to keep your core temperature from rising too quickly.
By mid day the heat was attacking from two directions. The sun 109 degrees and bouncing off the road at over 120 degrees.........Some of the Mules were wilting.
Eventually we made it in a very respectable time averaging 18.1 mph........Some hours later the sag wagons were still bringing riders in. Those who did not quite make it.
This year was ceratinly hotter than Hell and the hottest ride on record.