So Tito Bradshaw has been putting on the Tour de Toob in SA for past three years.
The first year I didn’t go. I don’t tube. I’m not a big “let’s go to the river” kind of guy. Never have been. But like 9 people did. And they said it was awesome. They rode 40 miles from San Antonio to New Braunfels and tubed the Comal for a few hours, barbecued and hitched a ride back in some trucks.
The second year (last year, see video courtesy of Danny Puckett) they had about 40 people and a trailer, to haul the bikes back, and a bus, to haul the riders back. I missed it because of work. Stupid work. But again, they said it was awesome. I vowed to not miss the next one.
This year I made it, barely. I pulled a muscle in my calf the night before at work, was having serious fitting issues with my shoes that precluded riding more than 25 miles at a time, and was generally down on riding for a little while. But waking up Sunday morning at 7am and NOT having to go to work inspired me. Plus I had drunkenly posted on the Facebook page for T de T that I would make it, even with a pulled muscle. And the riders around here are like elephants. Or the mob. They never forget. (Okay, maybe I’m the only one like an elephant. But let’s get back on track.) I roll in to the Blue Star parking lot and am greeted by the sight of over 100 people ready to ride (apparently he had about 140 people registered this year, amazing), two trucks with trailers and a huge warm feeling of knowing that Tito had pulled it off again. Pleasantries were exchanged; sarcastic and off-color remarks were made; some people were still a little drunk from the night before. But it was the general positive attitude that makes a thing like this possible, and it was palpable. The really humbling experience about a morning like this is just how much cycling or bike riding can bring people together. It really did feel like everyone knew each other. It was almost that way literally. But those that didn’t know each other knew of each other, via Facebook, or riding stories, or from a party 3 years ago, or whatever. You knew the guy that knew the other guy. You get the idea. The ride was a no-drop, so everyone that paid could make it to the river to tube and eat and drink, and both the trailered trucks, one driven by up and coming cycling bastion Jake Johnson, the other by Penny’s (Tito’s fiance, who ride with us) parents were following to make the traffic situation of 130 cyclists through traffic manageable. After some taco time and a quick safety briefing, Tito called role and we moved out.
We rolled up through downtown and east on Houston towards the AT&T Center, where we caught the newly opened Linear Creek tail system and proceeded northwards. The trail is really cool and well thought out. It was obviously not designed for a caravan of over 130 riders to use it as a super highway to McAllister park, and some people criticized the route. I have a different opinion. There is no way to safely get 130 cyclists from downtown to loop 1604. No way. I think the route through the Greenway was a clever way to avoid traffic, keep everyone together by limiting speed, and generally more fun that taking a main road straight north. The thing is you can’t control how people ride. You can’t watch everyone and offer advice. Some people might not know to ride on the right. Or to line up nicely when going around a sharp corner or bridge. There was an injury on the path, probably due to congestion, but she’s fine and we are lucky for that. I still think it was wise to have taken the path.
I had already decided before I left the house to ride nice and easy, probably sweeping up the back of the ride for stragglers or helping, as my leg wasn’t up to my normal “mash up to the front/hold traffic lights/let all riders pass/mash up the front” routine. But we got out of the city with few incidents and everyone seemed to be in good spirits. As we passed the loop 1604 headed towards New Braunfels it was nice to be on the open roads. I made me think of those videos I’ve seen of rides in Europe or California. Where people just ride into the openness for hours. It was fun. It was a struggle keeping everyone together and stressful as cars passed riders who were unfamiliar with the feeling. But everyone made it, and it was nice to see the look of satisfaction of the non-cyclists faces when we were only one mile away from our destination at the final regrouping point. We rolled into Landa Falls sometime around 1pm. The hottest part of the day, perfect for getting in that cool river water.
When we hit the parking lot the smell of meat grilling and beer flowing was truly the call of the gods. And we partook. The lines were long for food, but there was more than enough for everyone, both food and beer. (Note: This begs the question: if ONE GUY can put together a party like this that cost $25 bucks per person with an excess of fun, food and beer what is everyone else doing wrong in San Antonio? Why do other events suck so badly?) People changed into river gear from riding gear and ate and drank and talked and got ready to tube. Props to Tito for stepping up and offering tubes to people who didn’t get one initially. (We all need to send him some more money for putting this on.)
Now tubing is tubing. I’ve never much cared for it. I like to be in control of situations and floating down a river in a smelly old truck tube (not that we had those; Landa Falls is the nicest tube rental place I’ve ever seen or heard of) avoiding drunk assholes is not the way I like to recreate. But something about today had me into it. I think it was knowing that we were about to take over the river for the next 5 hours. Or that as we were floating we kept seeing friendly faces and groups the entire time. It might have also been the segment of the river that was, apparently, a tribute to the Jersey Shore; complete with over-tanned steroid-dripping dudes and fake boobed Snookies listening to Oontz-oontz music and fist pumping. (Note: We actually did a lot of fist pumping during that segment, official apology to follow) The bottom line is the float was legit fun. Also fun was watching everyone around me get schwasted, since I also do not like getting day-drunk-in-the-sun. I like to get drunk in a bar, like a reasonable person. All in all it was an awesome day. Floating down a river for over 5 hours is surprisingly exhausting and when the buses trucked us back to Landa Falls I was done for the day. Luckily the people I was with had parked their car (thanks, Jeff, Steph, and Bart; though I take credit for scoring a parking space in a full lot) at Landa Falls so we said goodbyes, helped load trucks up and then headed back to SA.
I got home, showered, changed, uploaded my Strava report, and put my bike away.
Can’t wait for Tour de Toob 2013.
Random, stolen Tour de Toob pics from Facebook. I don’t think anyone will mind.
(The last 21 pics are on film by Alex Garcia and are awesome, thanks, ATG)