Pedal Power Wildflower
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Stonewall is a small community just outside of Fredericksburg in the middle of hill country. And they do not call it hill country for nothing. The ride is similar to Pineywoods Purgatory in that the "purgatory" was always one more hill to climb. But was it worth it. We had enough rain this year to entice the wildflowers out in all their splendor. Most of the photos do not capture the intense color of the flowers. You need to see them for yourself or buy a Texas Highways magazine.
We took the long way to Stonewall by going to Llano and then cutting over to Fredericksburg. From Brady to Stonewall was one field of wildflowers after another. For miles and miles the highway was lined on both sides with bluebonnets and some wildflowers we'd never seen before.
Getting to Stonewall was part of the fun. However, to make it a perfect event, quite a few cyclists from San Angelo converged on the little town to make it a great group ride. Attending were: David and Donna Durbin, Christine and Roy Jones, Dorothy Langdon, Rick and Velma Ogan, and Mark Seals. Liz Binder, area manager of Gold's Gym in Midland, came with Dorothy who happens to be the owner of Gold's Gym in Midland and San Angelo. Mark drove in very early in the morning so he missed much of the flower show. I am not sure we convinced him to take the long way home to see the show on the way home. Even if he didn't, there were plenty of flowers on the bike routes.
Friday evening, David, Donna, Dorothy, Liz, Christine, and I drove in to Fredericksburg to consume some good German food.
Dorothy and Liz
David and Donna
The Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center, sponsors of the event, did another excellent job putting things together. To eliminate any bottle necks, the registration and packet pick up were at the Visitor's Center of the LBJ State Park, and breakfast and the start area were at the pavilion/dining hall. We all assembled at the dining hall for breakfast and social time.
Liz, Rick, Velma, Dorothy, Donna, David, and Christine. Mark had gone to get his bike.
It was reported that a little over 750 riders signed up. The start was staggered for traffic control and to keep from having too many people at a rest area at one time.
In the 60 mile line up, Donna, Velma, and Liz.
David & Mark, Dorothy & Donna in the background
The ride started off with gentle rolling hills to warm us up in the chilly 54 degree temperature.
Later we turned onto a one lane winding road.
First rest stop. Mark, David, Liz, Donna, Christine, and Dorothy.
San Angelo group. Mark, Donna, David, Rick, Velma, Christine, Dorothy, and Roy.
The next part of the ride was like gentle swells of the ocean (upper picture) and then into fertile farmland.
Rest stop at Willow City. Liz, Dorothy, Christine, (?), Velma and Rick.
The Willow City Loop was the start of the flower show, hills, and more hills. The Loop was only about 13 miles but it took us a long time to complete it as there were so many photo ops along the way. It was pedal-stop-pedal-stop for more pictures. The best shots were when we would stop. The bike enthusiasts such as Liz, Velma, Donna, and Rick would zoom ahead while Christine, Dorothy, and I would stop and smell the flowers...literally. The aroma of bluebonnests is indescribably sweet and light. David and Mark had decided to ride the 37 mile ride route, so we had already split up by the Willow City stop.
On this leg, we turned onto Highway 16 for a short distance. It has the hill that Christine loves. It's about a mile of steep decline, however, just before we got there she said she felt a steady bumping in the rear tire. We stopped, and there was a small snake in the back tire. We agreed that she should take the hill more slowly than her norm, and to her credit, she kept it down to 38 mph. At the next stop, we had the tire evaluated by our expert Rick who declared the tire to be shot. Rick, whose saddle bag is really a suitcase had a spare tire in his bag.
You guessed it: Rick once again showing me how to change a tire. One of these days I might learn. Once back on the road really didn't last long. Too many photo ops.
Liz and Dorothy.
Donna, Liz, and Dorothy
Traffic was pretty dense on the Willow City Loop as it had such great scenery.
Christine enjoying the ride.
The two on horseback were able to maneuver better than the hundreds of cars, motorcycles, and cyclists.
OK. So it took us a long time to finish the ride but the scenery was too pretty to rush through it.
Dorothy was enjoying the scenery also.
Liz, Velma, and Dorothy on a break. Notice the guy on the far left.
Once again, Rick to the rescue. The guy in the previous picture couldn't get his bike to shift so Rick worked on his bike and got him back on the road.
Too soon we completed the Willow City Loop and per tradition took another break.
Dorothy and Donna at the rest stop.
Liz, Rick, Velma, Christine, Dorothy, and Donna.
As Rick Smith in the Standard Times said, Harrys' Saloon is how you know you are in Willow City. After leaving Willow City, the scenery did not stop.
Three of the crossings had water running over the highway. It looked pretty but the water was cold.
David met us at the last rest stop. He had already showered, eaten, and was waiting when we pulled in. Dorothy decided to ride back with him. We had completed 50 of the 60 miles--but the sponsors, knowing that everyone was dragging at this point, had one more stop before the finish.
Rick, David, and Liz.
For anyone who didn't believe me, this is a good shot of Rick's "suitcase".
Hill leading up to the last rest stop.
Rick and Chris pulling into the last stop.
And off we go on the last leg of the trip.
Liz and Donna heading out.
The ride was over but the activity continued. A spagetti dinner was waiting for us at the pavillon.
Stomachs full, we are all contented. But you know what happens when you stay up late, get up early, and then fill your stomach.
And he still had a long day ahead of him.
On the way home:
And the end of another perfect day.