Sunday, July 12, 2015

Susan Peak

 Susan Peak
San Angelo, Texas
Rick, Velma, Jeffri, Christine, and Brian ready for the Susan Peak experience.
 Susan Peak from Walling Pecan is one of the hill climbing routes of San Angelo. 
 Susan Peak starts as a false flat with a 1% incline. 
 Slowly it increases to 3%, then to a 4% just before Rocking Chair ranch. 
 Rocking Chair marks the beginning of the Susan Peak hills. 
 Shot of the approach to Rocking Chair.  
 One of the many "rollers".
 Some are just more tame than others.
 This hill is the first of the best challenges. If one squints, Christine's head is just peeking over the last hump. 
 Top of a hill regroup time.
And a break to enjoy some of our rugged scenery.  
 As with all rides, not all is up. The only problem is that the wind was such that we still had to pedal down the hills.  
 One of those climbs that as soon as you hit the top, you look up and the road curves up again. 
 Another welcome downhill.
 This stretch always gets me excited and then lets me down. The last leg looks just like this. 
 However, as one turns the corner, the real last leg is in sight. 
 Brian, Rick, and Velma patiently waiting for the rest of the riders to show up at the turnaround point. 
 Remember the last leg that was up and into the wind. Going back was pay back time. Downhill with the wind. 
 Smooth sailing back.
 Going back, one can almost gain enough momentum to cross the next hill in the big chain ring.

 The sign states dangerous curve.
 Believe it as this gouge is right at the curve. As fast as one can go down the hill, if you are not paying attention, the ride can get interesting quickly. 

 Nice sage brush along the road.
 Good roller coming up.
 Last big downhill on the return trip. The truck caution sign indicates a 6 or 6 plus % grade. As I recall, this one is really about 11%.

 As the road levels somewhat, we know that we are within 6-7 miles of the finish. 
 Back at the Rocking Chair ranch gate. As mentioned, the wind is to our backs as shown by the flags. 
 Lipan Creek coming up. The end is getting closer.

 Rick and Brian lead the way. (Actually, I think Velma had already finished as she led most of the way).  
 Walling Pecan intersection.
 And with a left turn
 We are at the staging area. Good ride. Good group. Good time. 
Texas wild blue bells from another ride, but thought I would throw this in for good measure.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cow Creek Country Classic

Waxahachie, Texas
Saturday June 27, 2015
Christine ready for the 52 mile trip through the back roads around Waxahachie. They had changed the route this year somewhat as traffic in the Fort Worth/Dallas area was getting heavier.
Did the change of route worry Brian? Nope, he was ready to break last year's record. And he set his personal best for this tour. (Meaning he didn't hang back with me to pull me around the loop).
Start time was to be 7:30 a.m. 
Thunder storms had been forecast but luckily we just had a cloudy day.
Did the forecast scare riders away? They still had between 1200-1500 riders.
The organizers let the 98 and 72 milers start at 7:30 and held us to 7:45. Cut down on our traffic but put a little more work on the excellent traffic control volunteers. 
Our first crossing of "Cow Creek"
Route started out with a slight down hill with wind to our backs. 

The conditions made for a pleasant start through good scenery.

By the time we arrived at the first rest stop, both Christine and I had impressive (for us) averages. Since Brian had either not stopped or stopped and left, I wondered what his average was (I think I recall his saying that he still had a 20+ average at this point). 
Almost a one-car lane through tree tunnels. We still hadn't really gotten into the "hill country" yet. But it was coming. At this point we had "only" experienced 6-8% grades. Some long, some short and steep.

On the tranquil part of the route was my best chance of taking a photo of the route. 
I think I have mentioned before that if we are going up a hill or down, I prefer to hang onto the handlebar than to try for a dramatic shot. On the tough uphill or fun downhills, one would have to take my word for it. 
This was rest stop three. Forgot to mention on the other rest stops that they had cookies, honey, fruit, pickle juice, etc. The honey really hit the spot. But, I have yet to learn to drink the pickle juice first, THEN the cookies and honey. The reverse really gets one's attention though.
By rest stop 3 we had traversed some 57 hills ranging from 4-10%. (OK, I am compulsive and counted them on the Garmin Training Center page). However, the above shot was taken just before a great downhill. I have gone down this one before and didn't dare take a shot any closer but look off in the distance and one can tell how far down we were about to roll.
Back on terrain a little more level, I was impressed by the barn hanging in there trying to beat the elements and stay viable. I hope the farmer maintains it soon so that in the future years I will not pass a fallen barn. Would be a shame.
About every time one looked up, another roller would be in the offing. Some "small", some longer and steeper, but all tiring. Our drought of 4 years is officially over. Can't remember the last time so much of Texas was this green.

Christine still hanging in there. Of course, I only lagged behind to be available should she have a flat or mechanical problem..... 
 Another "roller" coming up. The camera angle never shows how dramatic a hill may be. One just looks at the picture and thinks "So?" 
 Forgot to mention that Waxahachie is designated the Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas.
 Lots of yards have Crape Myrtle as decoration and the city is just full of the decorative bush. 
 Christine is preparing for her favorite part of a ride--downhill.
 When she gets into her downhill crouch, not many can pass her. And unlike me, she rarely ever brakes on a downhill. Maybe at the Davis Mountains, but that is it.
 Getting close to the end.
 Our second crossing of Cow Creek.
 The old train depot is more of a tourist attraction now.

 I was a little slow on getting ready to take this shot but I think it is still nice.
 The house intrigued me. Not sure why other than it is appealing and seems welcoming. 

 Finish line in sight (off to left). We weren't rained on, although one could tell it had rained in the morning on the backside of the route. We finished and weren't the last ones in, and mesquite-grilled hot dogs and drinks were waiting for us at the finish line. I would say it was the end of a very good ride. We are looking forward to next year.