Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pedal Power Wildflower

Stonewall, Texas
April 2, 2011
Stonewall is just down the road from Fredericksburg so a stop there is "mandatory" (if you are traveling with women).
 Christine and Dorothy
Besides being a historical town, it has many antique shops and other interesting stores.

You know you are in Texas when--deer antlers and cowhide are art and

 you can buy a bluebonnet Christmas tree. 
Besides shopping, we visited more places than we have space to talk about, but the above Vereins Kirche was an interesting stop. It was a replica of an 1847 church for all denominations, school, and community hall. Making the museum even more interesting was the docent.
This gentleman revealed he was 88 yrs old. He served in the Navy during WWII and told us of his adventures. He also knew almost everything to know about the museum contents, the town history, and the first settlers which were from Germany. He also told of his grandfather and some other individuals and their part in the Civil War. If you are in Fredericksburg for just a short time, skip the antique stores and visit with this gentleman. You will not regret it. 
  Got a tree that you just don't know what to do with?

But lest I forget, we were there for the Pedal Power Wildflower Ride. Anyone who has read any of the current year rides knows that I have lamented our lack of rain, and therefore our lack of wildflowers to date this spring. That our of the way, we were there for a fun ride.
Christine Jones and Dorothy Langdon's pre-ride picture. (Christine blocked me from posting any post-ride pictures).
Lucy Jochum, Debbie Yohman, and Rita Grafton. 
Bill Yohman
Brian Backlund heading up the line-up (blue jersey to right).
Rita, Lucy, Debbie, and Dorothy ready for take-off. Not pictured, Christine was waiting eagerly at the intersection for an additional person who was unable to make it to the ride this year.

Approximately four hundred riders registered this year, down a little from some of the previous years. Some would ride the 23, 36, or 60 mile route. Rita, Brian, Dorothy, Christine, and I were going on the 60 mile route. However, as will be evident, right after the first rest stop, Rita picked up her pace while the rest of us plodded along.
Just as we left the LBJ State Park we crossed the Perdenales River and started on our first incline.
As soon as we finished one incline here came another.
And another. I have a lot more examples but I think the point is clear. Once the riders are sufficiently warmed up, a rest stop is provided.
Now this is a rest stop! German sausage wrapped in a tortilla, cheese blocks, pickles, sausage slices, crackers, fruit, vegetables, energy bars, cookies,
Gatorade, and I forgot what else.
  From the look on Christine's face as she arrived, I think she has been to this rest stop before.
No, this is not the sausage wrap and cheese line but something just as essential.
As we left rest stop one, the terrain leveled out quite a bit--as it was leading us to the next set of hills just past Willow City. Dorothy and we enjoyed the level road. Christine insisted that this picture of winter wheat be included. It's hard to take the farm out of the girl. But speaking of the roads, this ride has some of the best road surface in the state. There was only one small stretch of highway on the return trip that had a few potholes and bumpy surface, otherwise, we enjoyed the small-rock chip seal.
There were a few wildflowers along the wayside.
And livestock. We were frequently in some ranch land with just a road running through. So, there were many, many cattle guards on our routes.
I think Dorothy and Christine said they stopped counting as we crossed 20, and as the return trip back-tracked over some of the same roads, we hit each at least twice. Kept one awake though.
Brian led us into Willow City. At this point, we turned left and started the Willow City Loop. The loop provided the fodder for most of the ride war-stories in the absence the bluebonnets.
Rest stop at Willow City. Brian prepared for the next leg.
Christine and Dorothy were still in good spirits so
Off we went toward the long downhill on Highway 16.
This was probably the largest stand of bluebonnets we passed.
Christine preparing for the big roll. Right after this point I took no more pictures as I was too busy holding on. Brian and I actually had to brake for cars that were slowing up due to riders going down the hill. Christine was going only about 40 and the cars wanted to go 70.
We all made it down safely. Dorothy wanted to sit for a picture at this spot as last year she was sitting in a solid stand of bluebonnets. This year she was sitting in a bed of goat-head stickers.
From Highway 16 we got back on the Willow City Loop heading to the hills.
A popular road for motorcycles,
sports cars,

and roadside spectators.
Soon we found shade and rested to steel ourselves for what was next.
Right after the gate where the two in front of Brian are, the hill started to become interesting. One would have to enlarge the picture, but the two riders in the upper clearing are already pushing their bikes up. After that little clearing, the road continues to the right to the top of the hill.  At one point as I was struggling, I glanced at my Garmin, and it was indicating 13% grade. What flashed through my mind was, "Jerry is right. It is not helpful to know what the grade is." It did not encourage me to continue watching to see how much more steep the grade could become. I was aware that I was gasping for breath which served to alert people pushing their bikes that someone was approaching from behind. As I inched past one lady walking her bike, she said, "Hey, you are not going much faster than me." Soon thereafter I noticed that I was rolling faster and glanced down--the incline was only 9%. So Jerry, while knowing the grade sometimes is depressing, other times it can be a source of encouragement.
Chris said that as long as she was walking up The Hill she could see the beauty in the terrain even as dry as it was...bluebonnets, yuccas, live oaks, and miles and miles.
Yucca, orange and green lichen on Texas red granite, and prickly pear cactus.

Brian at the top of the hill. The water, power bars, oranges were really needed at this stage. On the left were chairs in the shade.

There were more hills, of course, (it is The Hill Country, after all) and a particularly interesting hill before the terrain levels out some. While going down a decline one is faced with a little water running over a low water crossing, so one naturally slows down. Immediately after, one has to make a 90 degree left turn onto another road while being mindful of traffic. The road rises sharply, and one doesn't start it with any momentum.  Yes, Jerry, I peeked. 11%.

After that excitement, one could just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

All that red granite can mark a rancher's driveway.

One of the 20 some-odd cattle guards. If one's momentum was kept up the going wasn't too bad--as cattle guards go.

Happiness was getting to the finish line to chow down on the great after-ride cheeseburgers the sponsors provided. Great ride and support. Thanks to all the dozens of volunteers.
Not a bluebonnet, but still pretty. Maybe next year.


  1. Hey, I read every word and enlarged the photos. I was there. Will I burn any calories this way? It looks like spring/summer has arrived where you live. Hubby is still getting snow back home (he went back to do taxes last Monday) and I have only 9 days or so left here in Paradise. Thanks so much for your encouraging comments on my blogsite. It's nice to know you are reading along. :)

  2. I'll bet you don't even get golf claps from those spectators.
    Speaking of which - I have to ask because I am completely unfamiliar with them up close and personal - you can safely ride over those cattle guards?

  3. @Edie. No, the spectators did not even nod their heads in approval.

    Similar to railroad tracks, one should cross a cattle guard perpendicular to the pipes and hold on tightly. With enough momentum, one can lift himself out of the saddle a little to ease the trauma.

    Cattle guards are generally 14'X6' with 4" spaced pipes. Riding on a highway shoulder rumble strip is worse than crossing a cattle guard.

    Hope your weather gets better soon. We are enjoying our 80+ temperatures.

  4. Thanks for the info.
    I was admiring all the tan lines in your pictures. We're back to cold and rainy here today but it looks like we're catching a break over the next couple of days.