Day 1
Riding out of Dallas on the Katy Trail, a beautiful bike route that takes us through some of the prettiest neighborhoods in the city.  A few morning joggers are sharing the trail with us.  After a few miles, the trail ends and we need to zig-zag through some smaller streets and across an overpass to reach White Rock Trail, another long bike route that extends all the way to the Northern edge of the city.  
At the end of the trail at Valley View Park I meet my wife Marie-Theres and my son Niculin.  MT wants to accompany us as we cross over to another bike route, Preston Ridge Trail, which extends even further North to Frisco.  Melanie, one of our guardian angels during the trip, also meets us again at the Park.
Melanie at a rest stop in Gunter, TX
And the first mishap of the trip strikes:  As I ride circles in the parking lot, antsy to get out, I am getting too slow. Forgetting that I am clipped into my pedals I fall over and my bike seat falls off.  Try as we might, we cannot get the seat back on.  I need to find the next bike shop, which fortunately is not far away, in Richardson.  While Niculin drives me there, MT and Harry take off without me to cover the first 15 miles of the trip to the end of Preston Ridge trail, where I meet the group again, with a brand-new seat on my bike.
We have short break for lunch.  This is where MT turns around and heads back home, while Harry and I continue on our bikes, followed by Melanie and Niculin driving the support vehicles.
The rest of the morning takes us just beyond the midway point of the day, a rest stop in Celina.  There we meet Evan, who is driving the pony.
There’s Evan
That’s the pony in the back...
It is good to stop for an hour and cool off in the air-conditioned trailer.  As luck would have it, the southerly winds, that had prevailed over the entire last week, changed to the North this morning, just in time for our ride.  Combined with the scorching heat and the relentless Texas sun it makes a deadly combination.  Hydration, multiple layers of sun screen and frequent rest stops over the course of the day are essential to avoid dangerous dehydration, burns and heat stroke.
As the time comes to continue Evan advises us not to look at the thermometer, which had passed the 100 degree mark already some time during the morning.  As we continue, the rest stops get more frequent.  The only way to stay cool is to soak our jerseys and bike shorts in cold water every 5 miles or so.  This cools us for about 10 minutes after which we are bone-dry again. We stop under trees in the front of small houses at the side of the road. We do not seem to draw much attention, although we can’t be sure. The residents might as well be loading their shotguns while watching us from behind the window curtains.  After all, who would be out riding a bike during the hottest time of the day?  
I decide not to tell Harry and Melanie about my suspicions...
Finally around 4 pm we reach the last watering hole before this day on the road comes to a close. Harry, who has to fly back this evening, was so kind to let me draft behind him for much of the day, giving me a chance to conserve energy for days 2 and 3. Nevertheless, I am ready to hand over the baton, i.e. the brain and the Camelbak, to Niculin, who will complete the last 14 miles of the day together with Harry.  This gives me a chance to pull out the camera and take aim.
My relief rider!
Niculin and Harry take off to finish the day
On the Road to Whitesboro
The pony following behind us
A Happy End of the first day around 5.30 pm
At the Happy Stop gas station we load up our bikes and head to Gainesville where we spend the first night at a Holiday Inn.  Harry leaves us here for a quick shower and a mad dash to the DFW airport to catch his plane at 8 pm.
From Dallas to Whitesboro
Monday, August 16, 2010