As long as you can sneak in between the little cold fronts that start whipping down this way, October in Central Texas is a month during which you can do just about anything outdoors you think you’re big enough to do. Well, maybe not a lot of swimming. Like yard work (yuk!), motorcycling, fishing, running, and today it was perfect for a bike ride on a new route.
The genesis of this ride was a posting by an Austin group who were starting at Liberty Hill and round-tripping to Burnet on country back roads. Seemed like a great group ride so my riding buddy Don and I thought we would do that. But wait: they were starting at 8a.m. and a light freeze was forecast which would put the starting temperature in the low 30’s at best.
Common sense prevailed and it was a bit after noon time with the temps headed toward 60 when we met at the courthouse annex. Full sun and a clear sky greeted us as we pedaled toward Burnet CR330, also known as the Old Bertram Road. We both realized we first had to turn on all of the gadgets:
- Garmin Forerunner 305 — on.
- Garmin Oregon — on (can’t have too many GPS’s)
- Front flashing white LED‘s — on
- Rear flashing LED’s (left) — on
- Rear flashing LED’s (right) — on
- Cell phone — on — Google Maps, Latitude on (that’s so Jen will be able to see where it was I ran off the road and crashed)
Don does about the same plus he has a HD videocam mounted on the front of his Catrike — the 3-wheeled non-bicycle with the barcolounger for a seat.
The route was CR330, to 332, then 336, onto 243 for about a mile to Oatmeal, then pick up 336 again to 334 and back to 330 and Burnet. It proved to be one of the prettiest routes we’ve taken. We had done part of that before (330 to 335 and 240 back into Marble Falls) but overall this was mostly new territory and we marveled several times that it would be gorgeous in the spring. The surface was pretty good except for one patch area in progress. All of these roads could use a shoulder but that’s probably never going to happen.
Our first real stop was downtown Oatmeal, Texas and former site of 3-minute oatmeal. It is also the location of a great festival each year with tons of good food and a lot of entertainment. I don’t know where all the people come from but it draws a huge crowd. At the right edge of the photo you can see Don’s Catrike flag and rear wheel. Between his flag and the flashing bright LED’s we each have on the back of our bikes we think (read that as “hope”) we are visible to traffic coming up from the rear.
The 22.5 mile route was laced with gentle curves, undulating gentle hills and one monster hill. Actually there was a second hill (photo at right) that would have been a monster had we not been going DOWN that one! Don commented how on the one really long climb with a steep hump for about the middle 40% of it, I was pulling away from him and then he was finally able to gain on me. It seems that I have a bit of advantage on him, up to a point. If the incline is too steep he will slow down but with his extremely low gear ratio will keep going. I will eventually have to dismount the Peugeot Triathlon with its mere 12-speed gearing. I try to get that accomplished just before the legs give out totally, whereupon I grind to a dead stop and fall over!
The weather was perfect, about 60 degrees and a light wind. Riding with Don is always fun because we have a lot in common. Today the conversation in part turned to, what else, but politics. Have you ever tried to talk about something serious (or maybe politics is a joke any more) when your heart is blasting away about 140 beats per minute while you’re trying to suck in enough oxygen to sustain life and attempting to keep the velocipede upright and traveling in a straight line? It can be done. We thought of our friend Eric and wished he was along because he would enjoy this route. Maybe next time.
Overall it’s a great route with few blind curves where vehicles can sneak up on you and a moderate dose of heart-pumping hills. Speaking of heart-pumping, here’s a pretty interesting chart that plots (from the Garmin Forerunner 305 sport watch) heart rate (red) against speed (blue) and elevation (green):
And always the stats:Distance: 22.5 miles Total time: 2:12 (including stops)
Avg Speed: 10.2 mph Max Speed: 27.2 (on the CR334 Vista hill — Don hit 38.5 but he has 3 wheels and less distance to fall) Calories burned: 1274 Heart rate avg/max: 133/164 Total ascent: 1221 feet