Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hill Country Riding... WOW

Guess what Central PA Mountain Biking elitists. There are rocks in Texas too. Not the kind we're used to. Not long jumbled stacks of Glacier waste that get dusty, grey and white with wear. Not trail after trail of body contorting, torque grunts. The difference is that they're interdispersed with fast, loose, sandy stretches that blur the Prickly Pear cactus and Mesquite trees. There are long, bare bedrock stretches where the line is not so apparent. The rocky sections are technical, challenging, and lo and behold, damn fun.

I've done two mountain bike rides since I've been in Central Texas. The first was in Muleshoe Bend, a pay-to-park hive of trails run by the authority that looks after the series of man-made lakes strewn along the Colorado River. $5 got me a freshly printed map and trails reminscent of PA's beloved Raystown Lake and a delighful smattering of tricky bits similar to those found in the Cooper's Gap region of Rothrock State Forest. That's right. Raystown AND Cooper's Gap. Two of the riding gems of Central PA. Minus of course layers of snow and ice, and plus tons of shit with thorns. The singletrack isn’t as wide as it is in most of Raystown but would open up to a picturesque Lake Travis every once in a while, similar to Rays. It is only an 8mile loop and I had plenty of time to complete one and a half laps before I left. I was pleasantly surprised. Riding round here was off to a good start.

Today, almost on a whim, I went to Reveille Peak Ranch, just North of me. From my searches of nearby trails, I’ve gotten the sense that open access trails are not nearly as common as places like these. Luckily, since their grand opening was last weekend and they’re still trying to attract riders, they were offering free access all weekend. So I loaded the Selma back on the truck and drove up past the county seat, Burnet towards Lake Buchanan (pronounced Buck-canon down here, as opposed to Bew-canon). After getting lost a bit (which was enjoyable, because I got to see more of the lake), I rolled into a red dirt lot alive with mountain bikers. The single speed, full rigid rig on my truck captured everyone's attention. I got talking with Russ and Jamie who seem to manage the place and immediately got solid vibes. This was the sort of place where killer weddings go down. The lot was adjacent to a "spare no expenses" outdoor kitchen, bar, stage, pool and sand volleyball court, all overlooking a beautiful little lake tucked in granite and green hill sides.

When I finally pulled myself from all the friendly people (including both the trailbuilders/designers of this place AND Muleshoe!) and told them my story, I rode double track around the water into something like 20 or so miles of spectacular single track. Up and down granite outcroppings. Round and through junipers. Switchbacks to vistas. Short grunting rises. Across exposed bedrock in streams....I forgot to drink water; I was having too much fun. I'm going back tomorrow. It's the kind of place that would certainly get me in shape when ridden frequently. And I hope to. A guy back in the parking lot, from Austin, made the bold statement that it was the best Texas had to offer. I'm ok with finding it this soon! Plus, the cook hooked it up and took three dollars out of his tip jar so I could afford a burger. Nice. Oh...and they plan to add 40 more miles of single track. Very cool place.

No comments: