Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fort Davis Preparation

Saturday September 4, 2009

The Fort Davis Cyclefest is just two weeks away so a ride was called to prepare for the Davis Mountains. Not that one needs an excuse for a Saturday ride, it is just a convenient way to pretend that the ride has more of a purpose and meaning than exercise, health, recreation, fun, adrenaline, and pleasure.

The ride was to start from Christoval as the entrĂ©e of the day was to be Allen Lane. It was quite iffy as Friday night we had a good rain; Rick said it was sprinkling at 6 a.m. (we didn’t know that as we overslept); and the forecast was for isolated thunderstorms in the Christoval area (yes, David, I checked the Christoval forecast rather than the San Angelo one this time). But the skies had almost cleared by the time Christine quickly sat up in bed and stated in a rather non-calm way, “I didn't turn on the alarm!” Since it wasn’t raining by that time and the skies were OK, we decided to chance it. It was too early in the morning to think of calling Liz and asking her if it was raining in Christoval.

As it turned out, the weather was perfect. At the start it was 68 degrees F. with a finish in the 80's. Wind, what wind? All the flags and wind socks were limp. Slightly humid from the rains but not over-bearing.

Five of us met with our hostess for the day, Liz Rappe, who was to show us around the area since we were in her neck of the woods.

And what a ride Liz took us on. We started out on Mineral Wells which eventually intersected with River Loop.

Have you ever dreamed of riding down a country lane that has a variety of vegetation and trees with scenic views everywhere? Ride the Mineral Wells/River Loop. That route alone has plenty of hills for a good work out.

South Concho on Mineral Wells.

Mineral Wells and 277.

From Mineral Wells we got back on Highway 277 heading toward Allen Lane. But first, a stop at Tres Amigos. The stop had a two-fold purpose. Comfort/supply re-stock and secondly Christine decided to have a flat at the stop. Rick was nice enough not only to fix the flat but to give us pointers to make the job easier.

Back on 277 heading to Allen Lane.

Approximately 3/10 of a mile past Tres Amigos is the Allen Lane turn off. Almost immediately the road starts to go uphill.

After the first good climb, this is what greets you. Don't let it fool you, it goes up. According to Rick's GPS, one hill was an 11.5 grade.

For those who have never ridden Allen Lane, it is 6.94 miles of rolling up, up, up, uphill. Perfect road for Fort Davis preparation. Rick has decided to ride the Fort Davis Cyclefest this year. On one of the hills, I was climbing at my 4 miles per hour Davis Mountains (Bear Mountain) speed and I told Rick that the incline was about equivalent to Fort Davis. His fancy GPS logged the incline as a 9% which sounded about right. When I told him that I was at my 4 MPH, he acknowledged it was tough because he said he slowed down to 15 MPH. Brenda was right behind Rick. Velma said she was at 4 MPH but she couldn’t shift out of high gear. I guess Chris and I were the only ones preparing for Fort Davis.

Liz would hang back with Chris and me to make sure we made it up the hills. She must have felt responsible for us since this was her area, but the way she is progressing, next season I am sure she will say, “You are on your own. I will be at the top of the hill waiting on you with Brenda, Rick, and Velma.”
I forgot to count how many hills there were. Maybe next time.

View from the top of one of the hills.
Same stop as above, other side of the road.

One more hill.

The destination: end of Allen Lane.

Remember the repetitive phrase of Allen Lane being 6.94 miles of rolling up, up, up, uphill? Well, Allen Lane is also 6.94 miles of rolling down, down, down, downhill. We all clocked impressive speeds on some of the declines with Chris hitting 40.4. Now that we know how pleasurable the return is, the motivation to hang in there will be similar to obsessing about the decline where South Burma becomes North Burma. Liz expressed it well, “It takes an hour to go up hill, and 5 minutes to return”.

This is the only picture of the return trip. The rest of the way I was hanging on tightly as the wind would lift my helmet and my ears were flapping like a dog hanging out his head from a car window.

Returning by 277, we had to maintain the tradition.

End of the road. Going down Moore Road I thought it should have been named Moore Shady Road. Nice trees lined the road providing an appropriate ending to a great ride.

Allen Lane will be put on our routine favorites ride list.

Spend time with friends and take time to smell the flowers.

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