March 24 - April 12: Texas

4/3 - Vanderpool (41 miles 1314 total)
41 miles from the woodbine inn in campwood to the foxfire cabins near vanderpool, TX
the humidity was already noticeable this morning when we went out to eat breakfast & make snacks at the van around 6:30. some of the riders are from colorado & other dry climes, so they weren't thrilled at the change to warmer & humid. but we might as well get used to humid as we pedal toward louisiana.
kathleen told us at breakfast that she'd talked to some locals last evening who were shepherding an oil rig along these roads, & warned her that we might be held up some today when they closed these narrow roads to let the wide load go by.
sari & i hadn't gotten more than 6-7 miles out of campwood when we were stopped. in about 10 mins, the first truck with part of the oil rig came toward us. here we are waiting for it to pass so we can pedal up the hill. from left are bryn & anne (looking forward), then sandy, mary (from boston), carolyn, & marilyn boger. (mary isn't really balancing a road sign on her head; it just looks that way in this photo.)
i was very glad that we weren't up on the narrow steep parts of this road when the oil rig came by....tho' some riders were.
a bit further along we were riding along a relatively flat stretch with pastures & some ranches on both sides of the road. we came upon this farm-machinery cemetery, so i took this photo of it. there was lots more rusting machinery in the pasture than you can see in this photo.
we had 2 very steep climbs today....& 2 very steep descents, along with plenty of smaller (but steep) climbs & descents thrown in between. here's a photo of sari near the top of the first climb...looking back toward this beautiful texas hill country that we were cycling through.
at a sag stop around 15 miles into the ride, with one big ascent & descent behind us, we were all fortifying ourselves for the many climbs we knew were ahead. behind sandy & bryn you can see what we were facing. the riding conditions clearly don't faze sandy.
bryn commented that our grades, both up & down, were often in the 8-10% range, as these aren't state roads so needn't adhere to highway grade limits.
further along we came to the top of the last descent. here's a photo of the valley below, our destination, with a bush of lovely purple flowers in the left foreground.
the 2nd descent was very steep; even riders who aren't near as afraid of steep downhills as i am said it was scarily steep. i'll admit that i walked part of the way down, especially since we were on the outside (dropoff) side of the road with no guardrails. as a walker, i could hug the left side of the road against the cliff. i figure however i can get down is ok.
it turns out that vanderpool is a teensy, old store at the intersection of 2 ranch roads. we turned left there & rode 3 additional miles to foxfire cabins. it's so pretty & secluded...a real shangri-la! here's a photo of sari & roma sitting on the deck outside the cabin we 3 share.
i'll take more photos around here & send them tomorrow afternoon. the very nice woman in the office says i can use a phone jack in the office anytime when she's there---9-4 daily. i'm hurrying to put together & send today's ride report before 4 today.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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