This is Dean Nix’s personal recap of his ride up the Northeast Texas Trail (NETT). He has setup a Facebook page called the NETT Awareness Ride where you can find additional discussion. If interested in finding out more about the NETT, check out the NE Texas Trail Facebook page set up by the NETT Coalition, the 501c3 non-profit responsible for creating the Northeast Texas Trail.
July 13, 2013
The final day’s goal was to ride from Clarksville back to Farmersville, 91.5 miles. Even though I knew what sections were not rideable from West to East I still planned to test them from East to West and see how far I could get. This would help my number one goal for the Awareness Ride which was to ride as much of the NETT as safely possible.
I woke up at five disappointed to learn that my sores had not dried over night as I had hoped. I packed and set out early eating a sandwich from the B&B Refrigerator. I skipped the breakfast dinner because I wanted to get an early start and they did not open till 6:00. Hitting Main St 3 minutes into the ride I can tell you that I never wanted to get off a bike so badly in my life. It is amazing the suffrage a cyclist can put out of their mind…….but when it is two open skin sores that are rubbed 85 times a minute……….well its much harder to “put” it out of your mind. We all know our body only touches the bike in 5 places but I have a new appreciation for the weighting of importance of those areas. I would have rather my left arm had been in a sling! I experimented with every saddle position I could think of except side saddle which at a couple of points of delirium did cross my mind. I could stand, but that is not a sustainable solution for 90 miles. I could also go very prone, as in aero, like you would be in the drops of a road bike and the more I brought my knees in the more it shifted my weight to the horn of my saddle and off the sores. Since I know the sections to Bagwell and then Detroit are not rideable I have a 20 mile ride on US 82 to Blossom where I can get on the NETT. I take long (5-10 minute) climbs out of the saddle. When I stand I notice my face feels “funny”, after a while I realize it is because when I stand by face relaxes. The grimace I have seated is not just tension in my face. I know the favor I am giving the sores will take its toll on other body parts that are accustom to 6,000 cycles per hour for hours but in a specific and different way. Near the end I felt this in my shoulders, a hip and the opposite knee. 21 miles and I’m in Blossom at about 7:20am. I stop at the Shamrock gas station which has a gap in the trees to the NETT right behind it. I need water and snacks. While getting a Gatorade out of the color a Deputy Sharif walks in behind me and ask the clerk a question. Now picture this, it is me, the clerk, two other customers and the Deputy we are all at the front of the store. The deputy’s question to the clerk is: “which one of these gentlemen is riding that bicycle?” OK friends, I am wearing a full race kit from my shop team with sponsors from top to bottom, a helmet, riding gloves and I am soaking wet from dew and sweat. My first instinct was to point at the other customer in boots and straw hat and say “that would be him” Instead I smile sincerely and say “That would be me officer”. The Deputy kindly informed me that instead of hand signaling into passing lane and then hand signaling a left turn in to the gas station that I should have stopped my bike, dismounted and walked across the street. He asked me my name. I told him and asked him his as I extended my hand……it was a soaking and nasty leather glove…. It literally left mud in the palm of his hand. I promised him I would not do it again, today, if he would promise me he would look that law up when he was off shift and we parted ways. As I paid for my items the clerk had less than kind words for the Deputy. I hit the trail behind the Shamrock and for a
while the rougher terrain was a blessing. The change in rhythm and pressure was a relief to certain areas. Blossom quickly gave way to Reno and Reno quickly turns to paved trail into Paris. Hitting Paris around 8:00am on a Saturday meant foot and bike traffic on their incredible trail. I rode the Paris trail to its end at 4th St. Avoiding the Square this time with Farmersville on my mind I took Washington St to 137 and out of town to Roxton. This is about 14.5 miles and it was a little hot a little hilly and requires you take four roads (one of them twice) and I was afraid I would forget the numbers, miss a turn and have to back track. That is strong fear while on a bike, with every pedal you wonder “Have I missed a turn” “am I wasting time and Energy?” Just outside of Roxton I have my only real problem with a dog. A pit bull (yeah I know it’s not the bread it’s the owner) he literally nipped at my left shoe and ankle twice and ran with me longer than I have ever seen a dog do before. In town, at 46 miles, I got water and snacks and caught up with the proprietors I met on Thursday. They were happy to see me. They proudly handed me a small bike lock I had left on Thursday. I did not have the heart to tell them I could not get the dang thing to work, meant to throw it away and accidently left it on the paper box. Leaving Roxton I decide to try some of the NETT to Ben Franklin. Half a mile out of town I come across the tallest (I think) Bridge Crossing on the NETT. It is, or was, a beautiful double arched, brick bridge but as much as 2/3 of its width has collapsed on the downstream or south side. I walk the bike over thinking to myself that if the half mile I had just come through was not so rough I would turn around instead. On the other side the trail only got worse and 2 miles out of town I bailed out onto a county road (25250) and headed for 38. I would stay on 38 through Ben Franklin then 128 back to Pecan Gap where I knew the trail was rideable to Farmersville. In Pecan Gap on the bench outside the Feed Store (which is closed) I am just shy of 60 miles and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Across the street I get a funny look and head nod from the post master. The same post master who saw me in Ben Franklin checking the map under a shade tree. Maybe he was thinking “Wow two fellas wearing the same funny clothes” Leaving Pecan Gap I knew I had full trail for the remainder of my ride but my legs quivered at the thought of the brush and grass that had cut them up pretty good on day one. Riding into Ladonia I can see the rodeo is setting up for later that night. I could only buy a Gatorade from a machine in Pecan Gap so I needed water. I likely can’t get it in Wolf City and Celeste is 17 miles of high grass, brush and trestles away. Jumping off trail in Ladonia is like moving over a side street and I was heart sunk to see that Gloria’s Kitchen was closed. I go further in town to find what looks like all of Ladonia’s residents out for a fair in town square around city hall. The smell of BBQ pulls me to a tent to support the local cheerleaders and I opt for a burger basket (simple to process remember?). Unfortunately the parade was not to honor my first ever out and back of the NETT (remind me to fire my marketing department) but instead they are celebrating their annual rodeo. I stayed long enough to eat, fill my water and watch a hanging (you read that right) and I’m off. I feel the closeness of 25 miles from Farmersville and I realize I am the most likely target for the next lynching. Ladonia to Wolf City to the East side of Celeste is a lot of bush whacking and it takes its toll in the heat. One of my support volunteers Les Nichols and his son meet me on the trail at a cross road near their house. Les was very disappointed that he missed me outbound on Thursday. I promised him I would call him from Wolf City and give him a heads up. Les road his horse to ground zero after 9/11 to honor the fallen and is as standup guy as they come. Les doesn’t have internet and was so concerned about me that he called and check on me Thursday night, Friday night and later Saturday when I was done. After a cold bottle of water I was off and knew that soon I would be on mowed trail through Meritt that would then give way to decomposed granite to pavement to the car. It was a long hot 11 miles. I even ate again because I felt the need and was close to overheating. My heart rate had steadily been increasing since mile 70 and here with 10 to go I was consistently in the mid 150’s to 160’s. As I told Les I was in “Barn Mode” and less interested in the things around me and more interested in getting back to the barn. Trying not to jinx myself I was still amazed I had not had a single flat or a wreck! The trail is not particular technical but at the speeds I was riding and with the mental and physical fatigue near the end of the day I would not have been surprised
if a simple mistake resulted in me laying on the ground. Seeing the Lamps that line the trail in Farmersville was special. I stayed on the active rail to City Hall parking lot because it was the shortest distance between two points and within 50 yards of my car I almost washed out (wrecked) in deep granite rocks (simple fatigue remember). I pulled in next to my car. My legs felt remarkably well. I propped my bike against the car. And laughed out load. I think it was that or cry and that would not do ………….so I laughed.
Time Moving 6:43:17
Calories used 2,823
Temp avg 90.4
HR avg 137