Sunday, February 21, 2010

Allen Lane

Stretch of Allen Lane
February 20, 2010
Christoval, Texas

Allen Lane according to the road sign; Allen Road according to MapQuest. Take your pick because either route is a good one.

Saturday was lining up to be a good day to ride. The temperature was to be mid-60’s and the wind 13-15. Since our average wind speed is 12, what was new? So a ride was called for 1 pm to start at the old Toni’s Restaurant outside of Christoval. Allen Lane is a 7.4 mile stretch of hills with grades ranging from 6 to 12% with one or two stretches at 14%. It is an ideal location to train for rides that have hills as a theme.

Saturday’s turn out was gratifying considering the chilly wind, trail runs, and big rodeo going on in San Angelo. Twelve made the ride at least once. Riders included Brian Backlund, Christine Buckstead, Christine and Roy Jones, Ty Johnson, Dean McKenzie, Rick Ogan, Velma Ogan, Liz Rappe', Wilbur Thomas, Dan and Leann Waldron. Christine Buckstead, Ty Johnson, Dan and Leann Waldron were running a little late but joined us at the turn around point.

Allen Lane starts off with a bang in that as one turns onto the Lane from Hwy 277, it almost immediately starts with an incline. The first hill is about a mile long and culminates at about an 12% grade. My first mistake was to try and keep up with Velma. By about a ½ mile she started pulling away, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Rick shot by me as if I were standing still—wasn’t standing still but was already going quite slowly. And to make it even worse, I kept hearing Randy’s voice “encouraging” me to keep my RPMs to 70. Now in the CompuTrainer classroom going up a 6.3% grade, holding 70 RPMs is one thing, but on a 12% grade—ain’t telling my RPMs.

But we all made it up. As per custom, we re-grouped at the top of the hill.
L-R Brian, Velma, Rick, Wilbur, Chris, Liz, and Dean.
Wilbur has a GPS that lets him know instantly what grade he is climbing. A real neat gadget, but I have mixed feelings on knowing what I am encountering. For example, on one hill I was with him, and as we went up he would call out 6%, 8%, 9%, 10%, 11%, 12%. After each good hill I would ask him what the grade was, and he would say it was 8-12-14 or what ever. But listening to the increments as you were pedaling them was sometimes disconcerting. You know you are having trouble, and then he is verifying why you are struggling. But it is good training. Dean McKenzie, Chris, and I have used Allen Lane to get ready for the Fort Davis Cyclefest.

Most of the ride was with a stiff cross wind. Going up a hill the wind was not so noticeable. Going down was another story. As you are going down a hill at 35-40 MPH the cross wind seems to come in gusts trying to blow you over. I have read articles with the advice to “ignore” gusts and not correct for them. That is hard to do when you think you are being blown over. But sure enough, just as you correct it seems the gust is over and you are leaning to the side in an awkward position. Only once did my leaning my bike into the cross wind seem to help, as the cross wind was consistent instead of gusty. It was the same feeling as banking into a turn to counteract centrifugal force.

At the end of Allen Lane, we re-grouped again before beginning the return trip. Dan and Leann Waldron had arrived late but rode in with some of the group. Shortly behind, Ty and Christine had arrived late also and came in right behind us.

Ty Johnson and Christine Buckstead at turn around point.
I had taken some shots of Dan and Leann as they arrived. Will turn on the camera next time before taking pictures.

We all took off at the turn around point. The first hill may be relatively short but it crests at 14% grade. I for one made the mistake of thinking it was just a short hill, so I didn't gear up for the grade. I found myself standing up pumping and pulling on my handle bars trying to get some leverage to compensate for my gear ratio. Several times I could just see myself stalling out and toppling over. It might have been a lively story, but I hate to bleed. So don't be fooled by short hills.

I muse about the short steep hills, as recently I was talking to Christine about the up-coming ride at Bastrop and the tough first 10 miles. She waved me off with "Yes, but they are short hills". So she doesn't pay heed to my words, [most of the time (editor's note)]but I know she will edit this and maybe pay attention to the written word. 

As "most" of the return trip is downhill, there was only one stop for re-grouping and that was the last hill before 277. Rick raced ahead and was able to take "action" shots of people climbing the hill. It also is a 14% grade.
Velma Ogan

Christine Buckstead

Wilbur Thomas
Brian Backlund
Roy Jones
I saw Rick taking pictures so I put on my "No big deal" face. However, in my routine self-deprecation, I will reveal what really went on coming up the hill.

(I know--I remember Randy, 70 RPMs going up hills--but it was 14% (he whined.) At least note that the speed was LESS than my average)

Christine Jones, Liz Rappe', Dan/Leann and Dean in background

Christine Jones and Liz Rappe cresting the hill.

Dan/Leann Waldron and Dean McKenzie about over the crest.
After this particular hill, it is all downhill all the way to Highway 277.
At the end of this stretch, the ride was over.
However, "Hey, that was fun. Let's do it again!" So five of us decided to do a repeat at least to the Mayfield Ranch gate about 5.4 miles back up the road.
Top of the first (12%) hill on the second go around. It did not seem as traumatic the second time up. Maybe our muscles were warmed up--or maybe it was because I wasn't chasing Velma up the hill the second time. But all agreed the repeat wasn't as bad as the first ride.

Liz dismounting at the end of the first hill.

Wilbur and Dean looking as if on a Sunday stroll.
After the re-group at the first hill, we all went on to the designated turn around point.

Dean and Liz at the turn around point.

Taking in the scenery.

The valley is even prettier in the summer.

One more group picture before we depart. Dean, Wilbur, Roy, and Liz.

And off we go back to the parking lot. Of course, all the way back was downhill and with the wind. : )


  1. I hope you can list our ride, the 3rd Annual LBJ 100 Bicycle Tour, March 27, starting/ending on the air strip of the LBJ Ranch at Stonewall, TX. We bill this a "Ride to Preserve History". As an added feature, Luci Baines Johnson leads a narrated tour of the historic landmarks on the Ranch (included in registration fee). For more info, go to

  2. Thanks. I have your ride listed on our club website at

    I will add some of your information and description on our Wednesday update.