Friday, December 30, 2016

Piney Woods Purgatory

 Piney Woods Purgatory
October 1, 2016
Lufkin, Texas
 As always, a good crowd. The start location was a new one to us, but we were guided there with GPS. Without getting ahead of the story, suffice it to say that I wish I had GPS upon the return.
 The first 5 or so miles are really easy, either flat or slightly downhill. So one wonders what is purgatory about that. I think I have told the story, but our first year at the ride, I was looking at a route map and asked a local which hill was "Purgatory"? He said, "All of them." There is always one more hill, and that is purgatory.
 Right on cue, the first hill we come to is a doozy.  Over 10% and goes forever. Great way to warm up for what is to follow.
 An never-ending series of inclines.  

 How can it be "purgatory" with such scenery?
 Eventually the terrain flattens a bit.

 And then you get to rest. Great cookies.
 After this decline, one gets to settle back and enjoy a few miles of roadside beauty. 

 Sweet Union Baptist Church is just about all that is left of Sweet Union, TX. It once was a thriving community with a colorful past, but now it boasts only about 40 residents.

 Another welcome rest stop. Thank you volunteers. 
 You decide and I will just keep quiet and try to stay out of trouble. 

 Last rest stop before the finish. Bicycle racks were a nice touch. Thanks.
One of the "last" hills before the finish. Now the story I alluded to at the beginning. At the "end", there were arrows pointing right. So I turned right. I had noticed some riders turning left but figured they would turn around upon discovering their error. Well, after about miles beyond my projected distance of 50 miles, I began to notice familiar looking areas. I was on the route at the start of the ride, NOT THE END. I stopped and asked some local how to get to Henderson Coliseum. "Oh, it is way back yonder." Three people gave me slightly different ways to get there, so I just took off and figured I would just use dead reckoning. Didn't work. Eventually, I would stop at a stop sign and wait for a car to stop and ask them for directions. I would follow those directions for a while and then stop again. Just as I had exhausted my patience, I was back at the point that I should have turned left. Lesson learned? I won't know until next year to see if I make the same mistake(s).

Christine's war story: At some point during the ride she flatted. Not wanting to change the tire, she waited for the SAG. Unfortunately, the SAG driver was not a biker and didn't know how to change the tube. He was following the last rider on his route who was VERY slow. Christine waited at the rest stop for other SAG guys who also didn't know how to change a tire. She talked them through it, though, but that delay threw Christine way back in the pack. She did not make the same mistake that I did near the finish and was not the last of the 50 milers to come in. Lesson learned. Stay close to me so I can change her tires.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fort Davis Cyclefest

Fort Davis Cyclefest
September 17, 2016
Fort Davis, Texas
Fort Davis, now a National Historic Site, was established in 1854 on the San Antonio-El Paso Road. 
From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis was strategically located to protect mail coaches and freight wagons  and to control activities of the Great Comanche and Mescalero Apache War Trails.
A shot of the above mosaic was taken at a rest stop on I 10 and honors the presence of  the 24th and 25th U.S. Infantry regiments and the 9th and 10th U.S. Calvary regiments, all-black regiments (known as the buffalo soldiers) who were stationed at the post. 
The Fort Davis Cyclefest starts at the Prude Ranch, a resort ranch that hosts different activities year round.

Foreground is David from San Angelo. Tony is in his favorite Alaska jersey as he works there on a two-week on, two-week off schedule.
Rick was not going to ride the 75 mile loop this year as he once again volunteered to help on the ride.
Start of the ride is mostly downhill and through a scenic canyon.
About 5 miles down the road we enter the village of Fort Davis.
Can you imagine waking up and viewing this every day?
The point and shoot shot of downtown Fort Davis does not give justice as it is a quaint, neat town.
Rick, providing SAG, checks out passing people for problems.
Heading out to the foothills, there is a 10 mile stretch of a "false flat". The road is a deceiving 1% incline, either warming one up for the upcoming hills, or wearing one down, depending upon perception. (It wears me down).
Nature provides interesting terrain to distract one from the "climb".
If you study the shot, you can tell the road is still going up.
Just a foreshadow of what is to come as the mountains are still about 30 miles up the road.
Neat gate.
Still going up toward the mountains.
But nature continues to provide distractions.

Confession time. Christine and I had gone 20 miles at this point. (The climb into the mountains is still 20 miles ahead.) We stopped and looked at the nice decline, but realized if we went any farther, we would just have to climb up. So we turned around and were content to do just 40 miles. Had we prepared for the 75 mile loop? No.
So, as we were going to get to enjoy the 1% DECLINE back to town, we just enjoyed the scenery.
If we saw something interesting, we would just stop and look.
Yucca and sotol.
Yucca again.
On the way back, we stopped at Rock Point and took a series of shots.
Rock Point is a rest stop with picnic tables.

Christine admires Rock Point at the entrance.
The previous Yuccas were straight. This leaning one is interesting.

Soon, it was time to leave this restful stop and continue our journey.
Since Prude Ranch to town is downhill, guess what the return is?
Nice shot--and glad I cut my fingernails before the ride.
Another highlight of the ride. The hosts provide hamburgers and drinks for the riders. Good food and good company tops off another great weekend.