September 20, 2014
Yes, 2014. I don't know where the time went; from this ride to now is just a blur of activity. Cruise, trip to California, and on and on.
As in the past few years, we stayed at the historic Limpia Hotel in downtown Fort Davis. The rooms are rustic and still have some of the old fixtures. We can see why it was a favorite of the "summer swallows."
Time to get ready for the ride came early. I peeped out to see if it was still raining and found just a few clouds in the sky at the time.
Brian was staying at the Limpia also, so we decided to start from that location rather than Prude Ranch. Christine did not start with us as she was going to do a "little" 25 mile out and back.
A nice cloud was hanging over the ridge just outside of town. The first 10 miles of the ride is a "false flat". It is a 1,000 foot increase in elevation but so gentle that one wonders why he is not just flying down the road.
First rest stop up ahead. First 10 miles under the belt. Can you discern the "false flat"?
The cloud is just stuck on the top. Pretty picture though.
Scenery. One of the great things about the Fort Davis ride: grand boulders of pink granite.
Brian leading the way. Note we still have a false flat.
A team of riders passed us, and I told Brian to join them. I was just holding him back, so off he went.
Not all of the ride is uphill.
I am never sure if the sign is encouragement or not. "Just" 49 more miles to go,
First sighting of Sawtooth.
At a scenic overlook--and start of a good downhill, Brian waited until I caught up.
Fort Davis had had a lot of rain and this crew was clearing some of the washout off of the road.
The forecast for the day was more rain. However, at this location, all was still clear.
Remember the photo of the first sighting of Sawtooth? In the short while of covering a little distance, a good cloud build up had appeared.
Rick was volunteering as SAG for the ride. Rick played a big part in my plan and a trick I had learned from Christine and others--SAG up Bear Mountain. I knew before the start of the ride that I was not in as good a shape as other rides in the past.
So, rather than push my bike up for an unknown distance, another couple and I took the easy way up.
While Rick was loading our bikes, I was able to look around and take some photos of the area.
Clouds are getting darker but it was hoped that we could finish before the predicted rainfall.
Brian was determined to pedal up Bear Mountain. The top of the ridge does not mean he is through. The road just turns and continues to go up and up and--.
As we passed Brian, I thought I saw a "Wish you were here--and I there" look on his face.
I took another shot to show the long incline Brian was on. He just had about 2 more miles of this before Rest Stop 3.
And he made it. He was topping the last crest before the rest stop.
Clouds were looking a little more threatening.
This stretch of the ride is always welcome. I am not sure how many miles it is before the next climb up ahead, but it gives you a little time to rest up before the next incline.
Last look of Sawtooth.
One more decline before we approach the next mountain.
Yep, you guessed it. About half way up the next mountain climb, I started pushing my bike up as my legs gave out and talked to me about cramping if I dared push them any harder. And then I saw Rick. This SAG was not part of my plan. The climbs after Bear Mountain are steep but not as long. My pre-ride strategy was to just SAG up Bear and just gut out the rest. My legs didn't get the memo.
A welcome rest stop. Just "one" more steep climb before the last leg of the ride.
With the first sighting of the McDonald Observatory, one knows that the hard part of the ride is over.
Another respite part of the ride.
And make this part a "double respite". The last rest stop before the end.
The McDonald Observatory entrance marks the start of one of the best parts of the ride.
The fun part begins. Ahead is about 8 miles of downhill terrain. This was the only shot I took of this segment of the ride as I was too busy holding onto the handlebars. Ahead are hairpin turns that reward the rider for having traveled the previous 65 or so miles.
After one more hiccup in the road called Heartbreak Hill (after the long downhill there is one more short but tough hill and it just breaks one's heart), the finish line at Prude Ranch is in sight.
Note the wet road. A few miles back we finally got rained on. We went through a small shower. Others later talked about going through a heavy rain.
Another reward. Hamburgers and hot dogs were served after the ride.
Other than good food, the other enjoyable part of a ride is to sit around and talk about the ride and the war stories that go along with it. My war story is to be better prepared for the 2015 ride. Rick may just decide to ride rather than SAG so my "strategy" this year has to be to make it up the mountains under my own power.