Monday, October 3, 2011

Pineywoods Purgatory

Pineywoods Purgatory
Lufkin, Texas
October 1, 2011
The area around Lufkin is a stark contrast with the Fort Davis area. Fort Davis, in far West Texas is mountainous, almost treeless, and has great scenery with great rock outcroppings. Lufkin is far East Texas. LOTS of hills, trees everywhere, and has great scenery of giant pine trees.
As I was unloading the bikes at the staging area, I looked at the next isle and there was Martin (Cowboy) unloading his truck. Besides his congeniality, Martin is unique in his attire. Most of us run around in tennis shoes and baseball cap; Martin is a real Texan.
At start time, it was 58 degrees. Most as can be seen braved the chill. Christine and I had arm warmers plus Christine had leg warmers and an extra shirt under her jersey. She rationalized that there were about 40 degrees difference in our usual riding temperature. Does one need an excuse? Nah, just be comfortable.
Ready for the start.
And we were off.
Christine and Martin taking advantage of the relatively flat start.
Which ended right out of town.
And we started the rollers.
Leaving the main highway 103, we turned onto FM 1819. A nice shady lane that would have been nice in August.
FM 1819 had its share of rollers.
First rest stop. Christine showing off her one of her favorite jerseys, a Pineywoods Purgatory jersey she acquired some years back at the event.
Rest stops are always welcome, and well attended.
The last of a downhill section before the next "up".
Tall pine trees providing shade. We had not yet entered the Davie Crockett National Forest area.
No, the rest stops were not that close together. We had covered another 12 or so miles.

Right after the rest stop, we got behind a bicycle club that was staying close together, and they had a lot of big guys. I don't think I have mentioned that as we started out we were into the wind. As we turned on 1819, we headed into the wind. As we were now traveling along FM 1911, we headed into the wind. Drafting behind the big guys was a survival technique.

Lest one gets the wrong idea, there were a few "flat" stretches. The first time we rode Pineywoods Purgatory, looking at the ride map, I asked a local where the hill "purgatory" was. He said they all were. The ride is called purgatory as there is always one more hill to climb. And, Pineywoods Purgatory has a nicer ring to it than Pineywoods Hell.
The old bridge has been one of our favorite scenes. Note that soon, riders will not experience crossing the wooden floor.
Back to shady lanes.
Our next old wooden bridge as can be seen, has no side rails. Which was not to the advantage of a rider just behind us. Previously, we were warned not to ride the planks as our tires would get stuck. Ride in the middle and only face possible splinters. Although exact details are unknown, a rider behind us must have gotten stuck in one of the planks. He fell off the bridge and we heard suffered gashes.

The emergency response was quite fast and efficient. Two ambulances, one fire truck, and a police car responded to the rider. (The bridge was just down the road from a rest stop so we watched all the responders go by).

As we left the rest stop, we went down a small hill and most riders are in the big chain ring to get the most out of the decline. However, I recognized the spot and tried to take a shot of what was around the approaching corner--and shift into the small chain ring.

Just around the corner, the road takes a swift incline. At one point I glanced down and saw 11%. A person just in front of me said his Garmin registered 13% before the top. Either one, if the rider does not adjust fast enough, a stall out is predictable.
And then the lane lets the riders take a breather.
This is a continuation of FM 1911. So? At the intersection of FM 1911 and highway 69, riders have the decision of going straight and riding 70 miles. Or, one can turn right and ride 50 miles. We were at mile 38. I told Christine, let's turn right for 22 miles and have the fajita lunch provided at the Civic Center. We would have gotten back into town around noon. She said no, let's go the 42 more miles. If we miss the lunch, we can have steaks later.  Above, I gave it away as to who won the debate.
So we had 42 more miles of "purgatory".
Always a silver lining on a cloud. The next rest stop had my favorite cookies. No way was I not going to eat the cookie before taking off and take the chance of another downhill.
See the bikers across the road in the shade? It was not because of exhaustion.
This rest stop had a deli. Great modified subways. So the riders took their sandwich across the highway and had a picnic. We stuck with cookies as we did not want to spoil our appetite for either fajitas or steaks. 

 At Alazan, Texas, we onto FM 2782 for a very short while. The wind was almost to our back--not totally, but almost.
 Shortly after intersecting with highway 69, there was a series of inclines that went on forever. This is the last of the series.
 Then back to rollers on FM 843.  
 Our last rest stop was sponsored by the Army. Christine had to tell all the soldiers of going through boot camp at Fort McClellan, Alabama and of her short military career. 
Lieutenant Christine PlumleyPineywoods Purgatory one day".
 And back to Purgatory, always one more hill.
 As we were re-entering town, the highway shoulder was coned off to direct--and protect the riders. I liked the safety precaution as we were once more on a major highway.
This is the statute of Angelina (Little Angel) at the Civic Center. Angelina was the interpreter between the Spanish Franciscan priests and the local Indian tribes. Among the tributes to her, the local college is named after her as well as Lufkin being in Angelina County.

Yes, we made it back in time for the fajita lunch. And guess what we had for dinner.  


  1. love those red, white and blue jerseys!

  2. What a wonderful description. We are very proud of our trees and hills! We featured you on our facebook page: VisitLufkin. We hope you'll come back!