Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Texas Labor Day Weekend 600k

Still needing a ACP 600K brevet to complete my Super Randonneur, I ventured to Texas for the Lone Star Randonneur's (LSR) Labor Day weekend rando fest. One thousand kilometers of rides were on tap, which allowed an enterprising rider to ride four days in a row. I was in Mineral Wells, Texas, for the 600K brevet on Saturday and Sunday, September 4th and 5th. This was my first Texas brevet.
The ride started at 7:00 am, just as the sun was coming up. There were over thirty riders registered. Many were remarking about the mild temperatures. It was around 60F at the start, and would get up to 90F on Saturday. Apparently, Texas had been having a heat wave, and this was the first weekend were temperatures were under 100F for a long time. Mineral Wells is located in the northern part of what is called Texas Hill Country.

We were immediately into long rollers with the occasional short climb. That would be the theme for the day. There were few long flat stretches. Nothing was really steep, but I never felt like I got rolling. Although I was warned about the rough chip seal of the FM roads (farm to market roads), I don't recall having ever ridden on so much chip seal on a ride. The upside was that there was virtually no traffic, and Texas drivers routinely take the oncoming lane when passing. I noticed that the LSR riders generally rode fat tires, and some had pretty thick bar tape. I reduced the pressure in my tires and found that the ride improved considerably. Chip seal aside, the roads go through some incredibly scenic areas of farms, ranches and parks.

Many small towns on the route seem to be suffering from decline. Yet others seemed well kept and prosperous. Glen Rose was absolutely beautiful, with a park like setting along one of the many rivers in this area. Day one (225 miles) ended with a fast run back to Mineral Wells for the overnight.

Day two started just before sunrise. Upon turning south, we headed into a brisk headwind that would be in our face for the next thirty miles. The nice thing about the wind in this part of Texas is, if you have a headwind going out, you will have a tail wind coming back. The wind didn't shift in the afternoon like you expect in Colorado. Sunday had the look of a club ride. Dan Driscoll, LSR RBA, organized about half the 600K riders into a group that rode together for day two. The temperatures were warmer, reaching the mid 90's. On advice of the locals, I rode with a Camelbak both days. The camaraderie of the LSR group made the ride a lot of fun. The sense of esprit de corps started on Friday night with a group dinner at a restaurant next door to the ride motel.

Since the weather in Texas is mild in the winter, LSR has rides very early in the year with ACP brevets starting in January. Next year, LSR is putting on Texas Rando Stampede 1200K on May 11, 2011. They are extremely organized, friendly and have great cue sheets. I rode with riders from Texas, Washington, Arizona and other states. It was a great experience to ride with this group, and ride in a part of the country I would have never experienced without having done this brevet.
Rick Isham, RUSA 5133

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