Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pedal Power Wildflower

Pedal Power Wildflower
Stonewall, Texas
April 4, 2009
By Roy and Christine Jones

We had heard about Power Pedal Wildflower for the last two years from David and Donna. Donna had once stated that it was among her favorite rides. And what a ride! Add a little more rain in the early spring and Pedal Power could easily become one of our favorite rides. There were very few wildflowers this year. The weather was great in comparison to the last two years. We had a 61 degree start with a SSW wind at about 12 miles per hour as compared with the previous week’s start from Stonewall LBJ 100 by Christy Compeau with 39 degrees and a 40 mile an hour wind. Christy said they never had the wind to their back. Eat your heart out Christy; the wind was to our back as we started out and stayed that way for about 30 miles, or half our distance. Wind was in our face on the return, but, in a sense, the wind was the least of our problems as we hit THE HILL on Willow City Loop. (Click on pictures to enlarge)

But first: Pedal Power is the first weekend in April each year and attracts about 750riders. It is a short distance from San Antonio/Austin, but if anyone from San Angelo has the time to going up on Friday to tour the area it is well worth the trip. We toured Fredericksburg, Luckenbach, Stonewall, LBJ State Park and National Park, and Christine finally was able to tour the Sauer-Beckman Farm. The farm is a living history farm as if in the early 1900’s. Park interpreters wear period clothing, do the farm and household chores as they were done at that time, and also conduct tours for the visitors. We watched as they turned clabber milk into cheese, fed their cows and pigs, and children were able to go into the chicken coop and get an egg from the nest.

Sauer-Beckman Family Living Farm

As the area was settled by German immigrant farmers, there were quite a few old Lutheran Churches scattered about the region.

The State Park, similar to the San Angelo State Park, had Longhorn cattle and bison.

Pedal Power started at 9 am from the LBJ State Park. Registration was at the Visitor Center and breakfast was served at the dining facility which was across the street from the Start/Finish line.

The 60 and 36 mile riders lined up first and had a staggered group start so that everyone would not hit the first rest at the same time. Later, the 12 and 23 mile riders were started. There are two big advantages to one of the shorter routes. First, after the ride(s), the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center serves an outstanding spaghetti lunch so one gets back early enough to just eat at one’s leisure—plus the sodas are still cold. The other advantage involves food also which is important if one is watching the waist line. There are fewer rest stops on the shorter routes and therefore less opportunity to pig out and gain weight while on the ride. For example, the first rest stop had wrapped sausages, cheese, crackers, chips, bananas, three kinds of pickles, and four types of cookies. I just remember three of them, Oreo, chocolate chip, and sandy pecan. And the other rest stops did their best to make sure you don’t run out of energy foods and peanut butter nut energy bars. Without revealing too much of my intake versus calories burned, I think I was about 1,000 calories ahead when I sat down for the spaghetti lunch. But hey- Spoil me. I can burn calories on Burma Road if that’s my goal.
First Rest Stop

"Second Rest Stop"

"Third Rest Stop"

The ride ranged from looong rolling hills to “what in the heck was that?” hills. As stated earlier, there were few wild flowers. But the countryside was country. One lane paved paths through farm and ranch land for miles.

There were so many cattle guard crossings that my jaws were tired from clenching so that I wouldn’t chip a tooth bouncing on the crossings.

I saw two patches of blue bonnets. (Chris also saw two wine cups. Had there been rain we were assured entire fields would have been blanketed with color.) Both were on hills and very inconvenient to stop and take pictures. The first one was on SH 16 on a downhill that was worth the trip. It was long and fast. When I saw the patch of blue bonnets, I glanced down and was going 38 mph, so no way was I going to stop. The next batch was going up a hill—pay back time. When I saw the patch of blue bonnets, I glanced down and was hitting 3.9 mph. No way was I going to stop. It is just too hard to start back up again if you are struggling that much anyway.

Three point nine was not my record that day. Donna had told us about a hill that goes up and up and—and just when you think you have crested, you go around a bend and it goes up again. Well, two records for me. First I made it up the hill pedaling. Second, I hit a new low speed and stayed upright. Just as I was whizzing past a person walking up the hill, I glanced down and saw that I was going a big 2.9. I didn’t know you could stay upright going that slowly, but I did. As always, you take a picture to document the stupendous accomplishment and the picture makes it look like an ant hill. Well, on one of the pictures, those little ants were bicyclists going up the hill.

My Turn

Roy generally gets to write the first draft of an article, and then I translate it into English. But this time I want to talk also. The Sauer-Beckman Living Farm is worth the trip alone. I have been wanting to visit the farm for some time. I grew up on a farm in Illinois, and some of the sights, sounds, and smells brought back fond memories.

The area was settled in the 1800's by German farmers and thus there were a lot of Lutheran churches. One was close to the Sauer-Beckman farm and is shown in the picture below.

Another Lutheran church was at the first rest stop on the ride. Picture below.

There were wineries everywhere but we didn’t have the time to stop in and sample the fruit of the vine. All the more reason to return for another Pedal Power ride in the future.

The tour was another great ride. It’s amazing how you think of Texas as being flat until you buy a bicycle. Suddenly, there are hills everywhere.

Pedal Power had some tough hills for me as I am still not strong enough to make it up the steep, hard hills, but I was in the company of a lot younger biker-walkers.

But for every uphill there were some great downhills. Broadly speaking, the first half of the ride is going from the low elevation of the Pedernales River area to some pretty impressive hills and then back down (but not without some more ups) to the river.
Pedernales River

Two were memorable. The first one was on Highway 16--a long downhill. It started at about an elevation of 1823 and rolled down to 1254. I hit 45.1 mph and loved it. The other was just opposite. It was the hill that Roy spoke of pedaling 2.9 mph. Just as we crossed a creek bed, we looked up and saw the winding hill that seemed to go forever. About half way up, we could see bikers, but they looked like ants crawling up the hill.

The incline started at about 1176 feet and crested at 1672. Ha. There was a slightly level place in the road situated at a left bend, and as you could guess, it started going up again. When it crested at last we were at about 1741. The organizers had pity upon us and had a rest stop at the top of the climb. This was one stop nobody passed up.

One more picture--braking optional

No comments:

Post a Comment