Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pedal Through The Pines

 Pedal Thru The Pines
March 14, 2015
Smithville, Texas
Smithville is a small town just outside of Bastrop which is near Austin. "Pedal Thru the Pines" has been starting from the Smithville Park for several years now. We used to pedal through the pines until a wild fire swept through miles of ranchland and decimated the forest of unusually isolated stands of loblolly pines. The ride, however, is still one of our favorites, and we try to attend each year. They have 24, 40, and 70 mile rides. This year we chose the 40 mile ride.
 The 70 milers lined up first and were ready to go.
 We lined up with the more laid back crowd several "blocks" back. I did not get a count but I would estimate 850 or more showed up. We arrived early and yet we had to park close to the last row of cars in a large field.
It was brisk with a NNE wind at about 15 mph. However, as the sun kept rising, it became a pleasant day.
The first part of the ride was into the wind but with long stretches of flat terrain and interspersed rollers. 
Country church behind rest stop #1.
The pattern of flat roads and upcoming rollers continued.
There was one steep hill before the first rest stop that topped out at 12%. The rest were 6% or less.
Rest stop #2 was at Serbin. We hope to talk more about Serbin in a later story.
This picture was added to show that it was not all into the wind. As indicated by the Texas flag, we were about to go with the wind.
A long stretch before another roller.
The lady in blue had some loud music playing with a fast tempo. I discovered that if one kept cadence with the beat, one would be traveling 20-21 mph. It was fun for a while but somewhere up ahead we came upon another roller. She continued her cadence, I didn't.
Winchester--rest stop 3. Note at this time we were in a cross wind. No problem, much easier than a head wind.
Methodist church beside rest stop 3. 
Nice scenery with one exception. The wild flowers were still sparse at this time. We spied a few Indian Paint Brush, and the Bluebonnets were just beginning to peek through the grass.
This decline doesn't look like much at this point. However, we had doubled back on the outbound route so this was the 12% hill mentioned previously. Christine hit over 40 mph. I, being ever cautious, braked frequently and held it down to just over 30 mph. Memo to self--I heard my brakes squeaking so I need to get them checked out.
The turn off to get to the Smithville Park and the finish line. The lane winds back under the road and up into the park on the left. 
If one had an appetite after all of the goodies at the rest stops, Larrie's BBQ was available. The chopped beef sandwich was a fitting finale for a great, fun ride. Thanks Family Crisis Center and all of the friendly volunteers who put together the outstanding event.

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