The cool weather during the week politely extended into the weekend, and I jumped at the opportunity to get out into the hills. I was provided with wheels once more by Lance Armstrong’s shop, Mellow Johnnie’s, again with Ken and Sandra expertly guiding me on the trails (and in the post-ride tacos) … but sadly we were missing Tony on these excursions.
We lined-up two days of riding; the first a two-hour drive out to Flat Rock Ranch near Comfort, and twenty five miles of high-intensity switch-backs and short, sharp climbs to numb both the brains and the legs. Sandra is a former professional racer, so if she is feeling the pressure I know what I am riding is pretty serious. I was determined to work off the calories consumed during the week, and I was pushing pretty hard the whole way, cramping up near the end. Exhausting, exhilarating, and rounded off with ‘The Best Burger in Texas’; the images are still flashing in front of my eyes (the trails, and the burger).
After the tough Saturday route, we opted for a shorter 18-miler on Sunday at Reimers Ranch. Another private trail centre, this was more of a skills and finesse session, sporting multiple foot-high step-ups and steep drop-ins. It took me a little while to really get the hang of the approach to these things; third gear seemed about right, with a firm lift on the bars, deft weight transfer, and finessing the rear wheel over the final inches. With legs still reeling from the day before, I took it a little easier, and treated myself to tacos and cup cakes on my return to Austin.
The amazing thing about these sets of trails is the quite insane number of turns, looping back and forth, as if penned by a slightly nervous five year-old. Both of these ranches were privately-owned, and as a result the owners want to maximise the course length on the available terrain. This is in contrast to the UK, where trails are usually old routes between settlements, and as a result, straight. All I can say is that I would not be surprised if riders used to these trail centres are wicked at negotiating turns.
Cacti – A tyre’s best friend.
Confident over the rocks …
Ooh – but a bit steeper than I expected!
But smiles all round.