Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mount Locke Race

 Destination: McDonald Observatory
Mount Locke Race
Sunday September 16, 2012
 Rick Ogan was up early to prepare for the 7 mile race. Note the difference in the sky from yesterday.
 The 7 milers gather at the "solar panels" on highway 118.
 Bill Yohman was readying his bike while Debbie Yohman, Joy Smith, and Rick Ogan looked on.
 The race takes them to the top of the mountain in the center of the picture.
 The road winds up and up.
 The hair pin turns are fun going down. Up is another story.

 View from the top.

 If one enlarges the picture, the long winding road can be seen.
The 7 mile racers start at an elevation of 5,280 feet (1 mile). This point (near the finish line) is 6,791 feet, a 1,511 feet climb in 7 miles!! That ascent is what we do during a 30 mile ride.
 The 1.5 mile racers start down at the McDonald Observatory Visitor Center. Before one says "a mere 1.5 miles," know that the road immediately starts going up and doesn't stop until the finish line.
 Not all experience the pressure of the race. Debbie, Joy, and Christine seem to have no worries.
 Both races started at 9 a.m. and soon the first of the 1.5 milers start arriving.
 Later, the 7 milers begin to appear. Marlon Miller still has enough in him to stand and pedal.
 I tried to get him to look up and smile. That wasn't his first priority at that time. However, I looked back as he was about to get to the finish line--he SPRINTED across the line. Later he mentioned that he shouldn't have sprinted, just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
 Rick Ogan nears the finish line.
 From my point of view, they all make it look easy. They assure me it is not. I have neglected to mention that the last leg is a 17% climb.
 Brian Backlund finishes and seems to have brought the sun shine with him. He too made it look easy.
 Celebration time. Rick, Bill, Marlon, and Brian. Cyclists, and now you, dear readers, will recognize the "king of the mountains" hats.
Race over, it is time for an outstanding hamburger and a unbeatable chocolate milk shake. Hey, it takes a lot out of one to watch those racers pedal up that tough mountain. 
 Then begins the return back to the flatlands of San Angelo .
 Some of the scenery on the way out of the mountains toward Balmorhea.

Maybe next year the weather will cooperate and we will do the scenic loop again. Until then, we have some good memories of this year despite the Saturday rain-out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fort Davis Ride

 Fort Davis, Texas
Saturday, September 15, 2012
We woke up to a pouring rain. No way were we going to the Prude Ranch start line. At least three of the people we know did indeed start--Rick Ogan, Dorothy and Stephen Langdon. Their reports after their rides were not upbeat. Rick did the scenic loop but said it was freezing. Dorothy did not have rain-proof gear and by rest stop 2 was too chilled to continue. Stephen didn't finish either but for a very good reason. At a rest stop, a pick up truck ran over his back wheel. Luckily, Stephen wasn't on the bike at the time. The other San Angelo riders that we were aware of--Marlon Miller, Joy Smith, Brian Backlund, Bill and Debbie Yohman, and Karen Frembgen--all stayed indoors warm and dry.
 Hard to see but by a little after 11 a.m., the rain had slowed to a drizzle.
 By 11:30, the rain stopped so a few of us set a 12 noon start time from the Limpia Hotel. Brian Backlund decked out in cold weather gear (as were all of us).
 Karen Frembgen is a new and welcome arrival to San Angelo.
Karen cruising the "flatlands".
 Christine Jones seems to be enjoying the "flatlands".
 And no problem for Brian Backlund. The "flatlands" are a 1-2% incline for 10 miles.

Since we were going to do an out and back, our destination was the mountains in the far distance.
 The mountains get closer and the road is beginning to dry out.
 Christine and Karen pass a nice out-crop of rock.
 As we were about to pass the Point of Rocks, I spotted a familar face in the driveway. Ed Todd (right) from Midland. Ed and I cross paths on several organized rides each year, and it is always a delight to see him again. The gentleman on the left introduced himself and said he was new to riding. (I forgot his name). He and Ed said they were going to turn back as this was as far as they had planned on riding.
 A long line of buzzards patiently waiting on the fence line.
 Look out or supervisor?
 The road is almost dry, but the distant mountains are slow in arriving. No problem. This was a recreational ride, so there was no pressure to get anywhere fast. Way down on the right was rest stop 1. It was still manned by the Boy Scouts for afternoon riders.
 After the rest stop, our 10 mile "flatland" ride was over and we started into the rollers.
 Just before arriving at our destination, there was a really good downhill. I think Karen and Brian said they hit 37 or 38 mph. I did a 34; Christine for once was laid back on the downhill and went 29--not like her at all. (Editor's note: my ears were cold.)
 Turn around point--a little over 20 miles out. And Karen had made some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all--picnic time!!
 Christine thinking about a hot bath at the end of the ride.
 As mentioned, there was no rush on the ride. After our sandwiches, we took the time to just look around.
 Texas wheat grass.
 Texas cactus.
 And still a few wild flower to smell.
 Remember the good downhill? If one is doing an out and back, going back is payback time.
 However, since we were just barely out of the flatlands and not into the mountains yet, the grades stayed at 4-5%.
 Not real distinct but the clouds were resting on the hill top.
 Karen and Christine--two happy riders on their way back.
 Unlike last year, horses and live stock have adequate water and grass to sustain them.
 If the way out is a 1-2% incline, that means on the way back, it is a decline. So Brian, Christine, and Karen are mostly just coasting on the way back.
 Overcast but no threat, so we just enjoyed the ride.
 At the Point of Rocks, we decided to stop again. A nice lady volunteered to take our picture. Thank you.
 On a normal tour, one does not stop at the Point of Rocks but we had the time to just look around.
 Butterfly bush.
 Big boulders scattered around.
 Did nature line up these rocks?
 Unfortunately, it was time to move on.
As we hit the real flatlands, we knew the ride was almost over. Maybe next year the weather will be a little nicer and we can do the scenic loop again.