Sunday, May 28, 2017

Old Dennis 219k Permanent - a nice ride in Texas!

At the end of April, we went to Texas to visit my family. I was looking for a perm to ride from  Weatherford, where we were staying, and found a couple of good ones. (Thanks to Dan Driscoll for providing the other one!)

Pam Wright's Old Dennis 219km permanent seemed especially good, as the roads looked quiet, and there was limited southbound mileage toward the end of the ride, when the prevailing southerly winds might become an issue.

If anything, the route was more serene and pastoral than expected, a delight to ride.

A nice clockwise loop starting in Weatherford

A quiet start out Old Dennis Road (the old road to Dennis, Tex.).

The route veers onto even smaller, more rustic roads such as Kickapoo Falls Road, zigging and zagging past ranches.

Much of the route is on quiet farm-to-market roads such as FM 1188 and FM 1189 pictured here. Texas farm to market roads are well-engineered roads constructed in the early 20th century for economic reasons: to provide safe, quick ways for farmers to get their crops to market, without having to brave slow and uncertain rutted paths.

A nice view of hundreds of acres of tree dotted pastures and woods from this ridge.

This ranch name is both bemusing and faintly foreboding.

Typical flora - cactus and wildflowers - grace this guardrail.

Spring wildflowers abound!

The day before leaving for Texas, I had taken a spill on my bike.  This made riding the perm less comfortable, a minor distraction. Still, a clerk at the penultimate control asked if I'd crashed upon seeing this

Temps ranged from 70º to near 90º, so a celebratory chilled Perrier at the finish hit the spot!

A big thanks to Pam for designing this quiet, pastoral route, and for setting me up to ride it!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Hump to Pahrump - a 205km Perm in Nevada

New miles - priceless!

On April 25, I rode Richard Stum's 205km "Hump to Pahrump" Permanent in Nevada. Tagging another American Explorer state was an excuse, I admit, but this just sounded like a fun route.

Richard tells us he created a number of Nevada perms to ride in the winter when it's cold where lives in Utah. This one starts essentially in Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb, heads west over Mountain Springs Summit (5490 ft.), the high point and "hump" of the route, to the next town of Pahrump, and back. I picked this route because it looked like it had plenty of western scenery ... and simple navigation!

This RWGPS map illustrates the hump, and the route's simplicity ... click to enlarge.

To get there, it's an easy hop from Denver to Las Vegas, less than two hours' flying time.

Late April means plenty of snow at the Continental Divide in the Rockies.
This is probably near Aspen.

Lake Mead's desert landscape - on the approach to Las Vegas - is a contrast.

In Las Vegas, the entertainment starts as soon as you step off the plane!

A shuttle to a nearby hotel makes it easy to ride the permanent without renting a car.

An early start, after the motel breakfast ...

I've mapped the 2½ miles to the perm start ...


... and head out after dawn.

A cold front has come through, making for a brisk northerly wind in the Las Vegas environs, and temps around 60º. The first miles are a succession of traffic lights as we leave Las Vegas proper. But good bike lanes and alert motorists.

Soon, the route climbs into the foothills west of town, complete with flowering desert plants.

I stop for hydration top-off at a store ten miles out, as Richard's cue sheet tells us no services for the next 40 miles (that is, until Pahrump). It turns out this is not needed today, with a temp range mainly in the 60's and 70's. But soon it will be quite toasty here. Right about now is the ideal window of opportunity to do this ride.

A "bikes prohibited" sign unexpectedly comes into view!
No mistaking the message here. But this is the only road to Pahrump. (In fact the highway was constructed in the late 1960's just to get to Pahrump.)

It's a construction zone. I ask the foreman, and he says it's fine to go ahead, because they're not even working today. This provides six miles of traffic-free climbing. That's some luck!

At the summit, I need to don extra layers, as it is chilly with a brisk headwind from the west. It's a pedaling descent into this wind. I think this must be the normal prevailing wind, perhaps a bit stronger today ... or maybe not. I vie against the wind to make it into the double-digits.

Here's a closer look at the snow-capped peaks to the north.

Oops, riding in the airplane lane! 

Pahrump greets you with a parade of billboards to illustrate the entertainment possibilities in town. 

In Pahrump, you pass numerous convenience stores and eateries - plenty of opportunity to replenish. The actual Pahrump control is on the way back through town, though.

The route makes a circuit on local roads in the arid plain west of town.
Here's the far reach of the course, where the course veers east, and you can sit up to catch a tailwind!

Interesting, but not our route.

An upbeat street name!

After a calorific lunch stop, we bid adieu to Pahrump ...

Some desert flowers ...

... and cactus along the route.

Fortunately, this is also a bike lane.

The big middle third of this route is open expanse.

Soon we reach the climb back over Mountain Springs Summit and the desert foothills scenery.

The climb is gradual but extended.
It's been a nice ride, and good to see the summit again (with a tailwind).

It's more desert formations on the descent ...

... and the first views of glamorous Las Vegas.

A good day and a good ride - thanks for the route, Richard!