West Texas Road Trip

Over the years, it has been my pattern that once I arrive in South Brewster County, I don’t leave. At most, I travel north to Alpine for a night to take in a movie. Otherwise, I rarely leave the confines of South County.

While the sky may be vast down here, recently I’ve been making an effort to expand my horizons. To that end I headed north for the weekend, cycling with friends in Fort Davis, Alpine and Marfa.

Fort Davis

Friday afternoon, Manu, Mark, Raph and I drove two hours north to Fort Davis. Staying with local legend, John Lowe, we spent the night eating burgers, drinking beers and laughing around the fire. A great way to start the weekend.

Saturday morning we four were on the road shortly after 9am. Ten miles later, we were joined by our friend Joey.

Joey, Manu, Mark and Raph at Bear Mtn.

For the first 25miles or so the western winds blew in our faces. We worked well together, churning out two minute pulls in silence. At the summit of our first big climb of the day, Joey wished us well and turned around to meet Faith back at the truck. The next eight miles were glorious; slowly descending within the trees with the wind at our backs. We were all smiles.

Raph, Manu and the Davis Mountains

Once we turned south-east, we continued climbing until we finally hit the big climb of the day. By big, I don’t mean long; just two miles in length. BUT, that little climb hit grades of 18%, all of us wising for lower gears. The pain was worth it. The views from Mount Locke and the McDonald Observatory were spectacular.

The posse at the McDonald Observatory.

Shirin sitting 1500’+ above the valley floor below. Elevation 6791′

Yuhas and one of the many telescopes at the Observatory.

Minutes after the first of us summited, John rolled up on his Harley Davidson motorbike with a cargo box full of cold beer and water. Glorious! Thank you John!

Our host and beer shuttle, John.

From the highest paved road in Texas, we descended for six incredible miles. John was in awe, watching from behind as we tore down that road. At speeds of 50+mph, we slid down the road like a desert snake. Back at John’s for the night, beers, bbq and hammocks were in order. All in all, the ride covered 78miles with over 4600′ of climbing.

Raph enjoying a well earned beer and hammock.

Route info available HERE.

Alpine

With Mark heading for home Saturday evening, it was up to Manu, Raph and I to keep the pedals turning. After saying thanks and farewell to our most gracious host, Sunday morning we drove 25miles south to Alpine. There we met Sam who took us on a two hour, fifteen mile ride on the local trails.

Sam, our Alpine tour guide.

The first section of trail snakes up and down then back up and down A Mountain on the city’s south side. From there we rolled over to Sul Ross University for the Hancock Hill trails. Having ridden this loop a year ago with one of the original trail-builders, Kevin, I knew what we were in for.

The Hancock trails are steep, rocky, technical, tough going. Lots of little power moves required to negotiate over and around the endless rocks that line these zig-zagging trails. Those North County trails are nothing like what we have on offer in South County. Down the other side we hit the final few miles of trail that twist and turn like a huge strand of spaghetti.

Back at the truck, we quickly changed then headed to a local watering hole for a beer or two where we thanked Sam for showing us the trails. But we couldn’t hang out too long; Joey and his pump-track awaited.

Marfa

Arriving in Marfa around 3pm, Joey, Faith and we three went straight for the pump-track. Over the past year or so, Joey has built a beautiful 0.6mile/1km long dirt pump-track. After a lap or two, we all went for lunch then returned for another few laps with full bellies. Though that track is so much fun, I was feeling the effects of the Ft Davis and Alpine rides in my legs. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one.

Another great host, Joey bid us well as we made the two hour drive back to Terlingua.

Two days, three towns, three rides, each on very different terrain. What a weekend, what an adventure!

As my time here in Texas is quickly winding down, I have already promised myself that next year, I’ll be sure to leave my little desert home for more adventures throughout West Texas. Come join me.

 

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