Thursday, June 11, 2015

Burma Road

Burma Road
San Angelo, Texas
Saturday June 6, 2015
Burma Road is a popular stretch of road for cyclists as it has some challenging hills. Some of us are getting ready for an upcoming ride at Waxahachie, and hill practice seemed like the thing to do.

Christine always has a good smile before a ride. After a ride starts, better ask permission to take a picture.

It is always hard to catch Jerry in a smile. I should just use stock pictures of a rare smile and post that with the explanation that Jerry joined the particular ride of the day. (He really has a good sense of humor--just likes serious poses).

It is hard to catch Brian NOT smiling so I "lucked" out this time.

Introductions over, this is the start of the Burma ride. One can be caught off guard as it is a false flat.

The beginning is a 1-2% grade. A good warm up stretch.

Next comes a series of rollers.

And eventually we get into some good climbs. Photos never do justice to a hill. This one tops out at 13% on my Garmin. 

To be fair, some good declines also. 

Another one of the 13% killers. This hill is just before the smaller incline (8%) by "the windmill". 

Soon we get to the decline that Christine loves.

For the next three miles, one only has to pedal about twice and that is just to get to the next decline.

The steep declines are behind us and now the terrain keeps going toward the valley and Carlsbad, TX.

However, rather than going on to Carlsbad, we stopped at the overhead wires.

I mentioned we rolled down for three miles. Guess what, now we had to climb three miles. This is the only shot I took of the return back up the hills as from about here on, my only focus was getting to the top.
As a side note. In a ride long past, I told about going up a hill at 2.9 mph and staying upright. To my credit, I passed a lady who was pushing her bike up the hill at 2.6 mph. We had a nice conversation as it took a long time to pass her. Relevance? The three miles are about the equivalent. I had my bike that has been modified to a 32 back cog. Now, the difference between the past hill climb and this one, for this one I didn't have to grind my way up. I was able to "spin"--however, I don't think I was any faster. I stopped looking at my odometer at 4 mph.
Need I further explain why I needed the hill climb practice on this ride? 

After topping the hill, we get a temporary respite.

Oops. Guess what is at the end of a decline.

Then pay-back time--I mean another training opportunity.

Then breather time.

The 13 percenters on the way out are a reciprocal 13 down. 
Yet, one can discern that at the bottom is another climb. I have mentioned my "speed" up the tough hills. Well, on one like the above, I spotted a caterpillar starting to cross the road. He beat me by 6 inches and was never in any danger of my wheels.   

There are some relatively flat places on the ride with the inevitable climb ahead. There are many definitions of hill practice and goals, perhaps it is best to explain mine. I practice hill climbing not to see how fast I can go up, but to make sure I can make it up.

And then we finally arrived at the stretch before the cars. One may recall how this segment was described as a false flat. It is more pronounced by the return photo.

Awaiting at the staging point were Rick and Velma. They had ridden their tandem bike from their house so had already put on about as many miles as we had. After a nice visit, they headed back to town.

In the road was one of our famed horned toads. Christine tried to get him to complete the journey across the road as the road has high traffic from the cliché trucks and oil field pick ups. However, just as she got him close to the right side of the road, he decided that the other side was better after all and retraced his steps. I didn't know toads were so stubborn. 

Our next leg of the ride was toward the old Arden site (another ghost town). I had mentioned in the previous Burleson ride that Texas had been getting a lot of rain. This was our first clue that this area had had some good rains also.  

This sign had been up for years and had always meant the road MAY flood if we ever got rain.

The road closed sign had been before Little Rocky Creek which was now dry as can be seen.

So we continued our ride toward Arden.
Soon we came upon another barrier just before Big Rocky Creek. We had seen traffic coming from this direction so it was a safe bet that the creek was low and they simply drove around the barrier.

Indeed the creek was low by this time and most of the road had been repaired from the flooding..

The creek had a calm. nice, clear gentle flow. Very deceiving as

the debris not yet moved from the safe-guard fence told the rest of the story.

But now the creek was back to "normal".

On the return trip, I was starting to get pretty tired. At first Brian (in the lead) was pulling me, but soon I couldn't keep his pace and Jerry started pulling me.

Thanks guys, I can make it on my own now.

Ride over. Time will tell if the ride allowed my legs to get strong enough to conquer the hills of Waxahachie later in June.