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The weather was gorgeous, the routes scenic and the company delightful during the 17th annual Missions Tour de Goliad bicycle ride on Saturday.
 A few hundred of us riders gathered in Courthouse Square were welcomed to the ride and given last minute instructions. We were then let loose on various routes of 85, 50, 25 and 10 miles, cheered on by a high school cheer squad. I selected the 30-mile ride since I had to be at work that afternoon. This gave me plenty of time to do the ride, drive back to Victoria, shower, change clothes and be in the office on time.
   I arrived at the ride alone but met up with my Corpus Christi ride buddy, John Rodriguez, who was there without his two bike-riding sons. John also signed up for the 30-mile route. Riders were given directions before the start of the ride and issued a route map, which took us north of the city and into the beautiful Goliad County countryside.
 There seemed to be all shapes and sizes of riders and bicycles. One dad pedaled along with his toddler comfortably seated behind him in a little bike trailer. Another father helmed a bicycle-built-for-four with three young boys adding pedal power behind him. There were even a few recumbent bikes where the rider leans back, stretches his legs forward and pedals. I imagine hills would be difficult to climb in those things but they do look comfortable.
 On the road after the first rest stop, we were joined by Patricia, one of John's riding friends from Corpus Christi. Patricia was riding with a group of women but I think they were too slow for her so she picked up her pace and headed up the road alone, until she met up with us.
 I've bicycled alone several times but prefer the company of other riders, especially on a long route such as this. Having a ride buddy is an enjoyable way to pass the time and make the miles melt away.
 At Weesatche, members of the Goliad County 4-H stood at the edge of the road offering bananas, cookies and water to hungry and thirsty riders. Portable toilets were also available at each of the four rest stops on our route. At this stop, we joined Glenn and Danica, who drove up from Corpus Christi. A few miles up the road, they helped a hapless rider whose bicycle frame had broken. At the Church Road intersection, Glenn used his cell phone to call the emergency number listed on each of our numbered ride tags pinned to our jerseys. Danica relayed the location to Glenn, who informed the ride coordinator where the broken-down bike and rider could be found. We then continued on our way south towards town.
 A mile or two before the finish, we passed an ambulance tending to an injured bicyclist. An EMS guy told us that a biker had gotten hurt but that was all we were able to learn as we whizzed by.
 We rode back to Courthouse Square and were greeted by a singer and a small cheering crowd.
 All in all, a great ride. I'll be back for more next year. Anyone with me?
Eric