Day 3
Thursday, April 6, 2006
Kingsville, TX to Harlingen, TX
95 Miles

After almost a full day's rest and a good night's sleep, all three of us rolled out of bed early and ready to get on the road.  We had all agreed that if the winds were as forecast, we'd ride the 27 miles to the rest area south of Sarita, take the truck to Raymondville, and then ride the rest of the way (25 miles) to Harlingen.

Earl Gander and SSgt Jaramillo, both on the staff of the Marine Military Academy, joined us in Kingsville for the start.  We rolled out shortly after 6:00, because I had to change a tube in Frank's tire.  The valve broke off in my hand while I was trying to put air in it.  I had never seen that happen before.

J. doesn't have his bike with him because at the time he was planning to drive the MMA van for a while before switching off with Earl.  We convinced him that he should ride the whole way and let Kuni drive the van.  We got it worked out and the five of us took off into a relatively calm 10 MPH headwind.

Highway 77 between Kingsville and Raymondville is mostly featureless.  Just look at this wonderful landscape.

I will admit, however, that we enjoyed the relative lack of wind.  This was the calmest we'd seen it since Tuesday morning.  10 MPH on a flat road is nothing.  With a little help aiming, I got a picture of the guys riding behind me.  That's one of our support vans there in the picture.  That's Earl Gander in the other picture.  He rode right next to me most of the way.

We made the 27 miles to the rest area in just about 2-1/2 hours total time, having stopped once about halfway to refill liquids and take a little break.

The wind had picked up a bit more and we already knew what it was like south of us.  So rather than fight the 50 miles across the King Ranch, we loaded the bikes on the trucks and drove to Raymondville.  I miscalculated the time and we had to wait there for almost an hour for cadet Chris Boyd to show up.  We had told somebody to deliver him at 10:30.  We were all ready to go by 10:00.

We left the McDonald's restaurant there in Raymondville just after 10:30, directly into a 30 MPH headwind.  I've ridden in some wind before, but this was just simply brutal.  In my lowest gear and trying to keep my heart rate at something I could maintain for a long period of time, I was doing 9 MPH.  Everybody else lined up behind me in order to keep out of the wind.  I didn't block all of it for them.  They had plenty of work to do. 

Major Compton and SgtMaj Carson joined us on their motorcycles, providing a little traffic control and serving as a bit of an "honor guard" as we made our way slowly south on the highway 77 frontage road.  I took a few pictures, but the wind was so strong that I had trouble keeping the camera still.  Every one of the pictures was blurry.

We covered 20 miles in a little under three hours total time (including stops), leaving us five miles from the school.  The first 3.5 of those miles was relatively relaxing because we turned east and had a quartering tail wind.  Perhaps the picture on the left will give you some idea of just how strong that wind was.

The last mile and a half to the school entrance was directly into that wind again.  Everybody lined up behind me and I cranked it out at 8 MPH.  Every time I thought things couldn't get any worse, an even bigger gust would whip up and try to stop me dead in my tracks.  Or the wind would shift direction to the west a little bit and try to knock me over.

Two of Gunny Ski's grandkids met us on their bicycles at the school entrance, about 1/2 mile from the finish, and rode in with us.  We let them lead us through the gate, where a small crowd of cadets and well-wishers was gathered.  We talked to the press, posed for pictures, had a toast of sparkling grape juice, and then headed to the hotel to begin the weekend festivities.  Here's a shot of the whole crew:  riders, support, and Ski's grandkids.  You can click on the picture for a larger view.

For the day we rode 52 miles at an average speed of 10.6 MPH.  Those three hours into that headwind really killed our average speed.  The total trip distance that we rode this year was only 227 miles rather than the 335 that we covered the two previous years.  Although this year's winds were far and away stronger than anything that we'd encountered previously.

We managed to raise at least $12,000 for the scholarship fund, nobody was seriously hurt, and we all had a great time.  I'll call the ride a success.

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