Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pedal Through The Pines

Pedal Through The Pines
Bastrop, Texas
March 2, 2008

Pedal thru the Pines is a must for recreational as well as serious riders. For the recreational riders, to see the scenery going through the Lost Pines of Central Texas makes the trip worth while. For the serious rider, the ride lives up to its reputation as being a climbing event. The first 15 to 20 miles will tell you where you are in your fitness. Both Bastrop and Buescher State Parks have extremely steep hills that will test the mettle of any cyclist.

For the recreational rider, the third chain ring is a must. Almost everyone who was pushing his bike up the hills had only two chain rings and would stall out. There are lots of steep rollers in the parks, and after leaving Buescher State Park there is a 1.5 mile climb up Rocky Hill which is the highest point in the area. Rocky Hill is a turn around point, or turn right to continue the long ride. The rest of the ride has long climbs and rolling hills. It's challenging but not to the point of panting and the tongue hanging out.

The estimated 1300 riders had the choice of 15, 27, 50, or 65-mile routes. Even though we had staggered starts the narrow roads in the intensely hilly state park made avoiding folks of varying skill-levels a real challenge. We rode the 65 mile course. The roads and shoulders were in great shape. The temperature hit 78, and wind was out of the SW at 10 miles per hour. The wildflowers were beginning to bloom. The ranches were green and peaceful. The course was safe and well organized. There was a lot of sag support with great food/drink selection at the rest stops including chocolate chip cookies. The volunteers went out of their way to be friendly and good natured. It was the first time we’d seen Ride Marshals who rode their bicycles along the courses always attentive to participants’ needs or any safety concerns.

One rest stop in a little town called Serbin was really great. There was the Wendish museum, one of the oldest Lutheran churches in Texas, a little Lutheran elementary school by the church, and an old cemetery.

On down the road was another rest stop that was outside a small general store. We were deep in rural Texas.

The last part of the ride was on Highway 71 with a lot of traffic. The shoulders were wide and well maintained, however. The turn off from 71 in Bastrop to the finish area was tricky but wasn’t quite as dangerous as the finish of Steam N Wheels in Abilene---but that is another story.

Note: Pedal Through the Pines will be March 7, 2009 this year. Information may be obtained at Registration is $30 until Tues Feb 24 and then it goes to $40. On-line registration will be available until Mar 5 at 7pm.

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