Cycling – 101.5 miles! … No! … 101.5 Hilly Miles!

 Waiting for the day’s ride to start, a Sunrise fit for the adventure
Last Saturday (22 Oct, 2011) Gil Jones and I cycled from my home on the west shore of Lake Buchanan, TX to Junction, TX.  Gil and I cycle to many nice little towns in central Texas.  Junction just happens to also be 101.5 miles away, if one takes the scenic route.  I may mention that 101.5 thing again somewhere.
Lake Buchanan to Junction Scenic Route, cycling, Texas Hill Country, Catrike, Scattante 570

The route - click on the image for a larger version.

Our route would start on the western shore of Lake Buchanan, then go west on FM261 and FM2241 to TX29 on the east edge of Llano, then down TX29 to TX16 where we would go south to Fm152 at the northeast corner of the Llano Courthouse square.  At that point we would be 17-1/2 miles into the ride. Then we would head west on Fm152 for 18 miles to the little town of Castell, where we often ride from/to on the famous Tour de Longneques.  Then we would continue west another 10 or so miles to the intersection with US87 and then north into Mason for lunch at the Willow Creek Cafe.  We would leave Mason heading southwest on FM1871 through unending climbs and descents, one beautiful crossing of the Llano River, and yet more climbs and descents before reaching  FM385.  At FM385 our route would take us north, almost immediately coming to another Llano River crossing, Yates Crossing.  There we would stop and soak up the place while recharging our energy reserves for a few minutes, then face a tough climb up the north side of the river followed by a turn onto FM3480. On 3480 we would immediately confront a short but thoroughly gutwrenching climb and then a slow climb until we hit US377 and could go left to Junction (or to the right back to Mason, if we were daft).  Going left for about 12 miles on US377 we would hit US83 on the northern outskirts of Junction and proceed south to cross under I-10 and carry right on down the main drag of Junction to a city park, with which a couple of friends and I have some history dating back to 1962. 

The Elevation Profile for this ride is enough to get my attention.

Cycling, lake Buchanan to Junction Texas via the scenic route, elevation profile

The route clearly provides plenty of exciting descents and challenging ascents. Our starting point, Lake Buchanan, is at the left end of this chart.

Junction’s elevation ends up a bit over 700 feet higher than where we started, but one makes that much climb several times in the course of going there via the route we chose.

We did it.  We feel good about having done it.

cycling, Texas Hill Country, Lake Buchanan, Llano, Castell, Mason, Junction

At 7:40am, Saturday morning, Gil and I are ready to roll out from Lake Buchanan, bound for Junction, TX - 101.5 miles away

Gil has posted a very good report on our adventure and I commend it to your attention.  What I have tried to do is create a crude sort of pictorial report with minimal palavering from this point on.  As always, in these posts, to see a larger picture, click on the image.

This was an incredible experience.



Arriving at Castell!  36 miles behind us!

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Castell TX, Llano County, Castell General Store

Entering Castell, TX


Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Castell TX, Llano County, Castell General Store

Victor says "You are doing what!"

Turn right at US87 10 miles later
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Castell TX, Llano County, Castell General Store

We turn right then cross the Llano River about a mile north

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Castell TX, Mason TX, Castell General Store

Yup, hang a right!Crossing the US87 Bridge across the Llano River

 Lunch was at Mason’s Willow Creek Cafe

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, Willow Creek Cafe, Junction TX

Gil mugs at Peggy through the window upon arrival

 A BLT sandwich and gallon or two of iced tea does wonders!
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, Willow Creek Cafe, FM1871, US87, Junction TX

We head north on US 87, getting really hungry

 Time to roll out of Mason
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, Willow Creek Cafe, FM1871, Junction TX

Tanks full - ready for FM1871 ( wanna bet on that?)!

Then we hit that first BIG climb out of Mason on Fm1871
cycling, catrike, scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, Junction TX, FM1871

60 miles out, the climbin' gets serious

It was tough
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, FM1871, Junction TX

The first big climb out of Mason

And there were lots of climbs, most were straight into the wind!
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, FM1871, Junction TX

Gil drafts the trike into a headwind

They seemed never-ending!
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, FM1871, Junction TX

Finally we went down and crossed the Llano,... and then up again

But there was hope for a cooling downhill ahead!
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, FM1871, Junction TX

Woo-hoo! Gil and I descend at 30-35mph!

 The Llano River really was a pretty sight.

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, FM1871, Llano River, Junction TX

This is a beautiful crossing where FM1871 crosses the Llano River.

We zipped across way too fast to soak up the sights here! 

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, FM1871, Llano River, Junction TX
Then we start a 2 mile avg 4% grade grind
A humdinger of a climb it was.
Finally finished THAT climb!  FM1871 Mason County

Finally finished THAT climb!, but there are more

Along the way we passed a small herd of Longhorns.  Peggy got some pictures.  The drought this year has been very hard on these animals.  Look how skinny that cow with the calf is.

cycling, FM1871, longhorns, Don Bynum, Gil Jones Lake Buchanan to Junction

Thin Longhorn cow shows ribs while she keeps an eye on us

We go on and on, up and down, and then… finally we come to FM385 and hook a righty toward Yates Crossing!

FM385, Junction TX, Llano River, Yates Crossing, Catrike, Gil Jones, Don Bynum

Turning north on FM385 we came to Yates Crossing.

 Gil and I stopped at the top of the hill, overlooking Yates Crossing, and read a historical marker.  Yates Crossing was used by the Indians and later by the cattle drives heading north and needing to cross the Llano River.  I don’t know why Captain Call did not bring the herd from Lonesome Dove here to cross at this nice concrete low water bridge.  That kid would not have been eaten up by those water mocasins!


Gil and I just stopped to read the historical marker above the crossing

Then we rode down to soak up the sights, smells and sounds of the living Llano River as it winds its way across Texas’ semi-arid western Hill Country. 

Yates Crossing, looking upstream on the Llano


Gil is perplexed by the lack of a Verizon signal, 3G or otherwise. I snarf a Roctane gel.

Refreshed and ready to carry on our Quixotic adventure we had to make the steep climb out of the river bottom, then right at the top of that take a left on FM3480. 

The bug is on the gut-wrenching climb. Tough.

There we did a small climb then zipped down into Red Creek and got slammed with an absolutely gut-wrenching climb out of that creek bottom.  This climb, while short, exceeds a 20% grade momentarily and is well up in the high teens for about 50 yards or so.  At 86 miles into the ride, this climb was hard on us.


awful climb

Awful climb on FM3480

Once up that crushing climb, we had a gentle, 2-5% climb for a few miles over to the intersection with US377.  There we had to decide whether to carry on the 11-12 miles to Junction to the left or ride 25-30 miles back up to Mason.

Not being daft, we turned left toward Junction!


From here, it was only 9-10 miles to the intersection of US377 with US83 on the north edge of Junction.  From there, we just cruised on into Junction!

Cruisin' on into Junction... at about 99 miles at this point


Tired, hurting a little, and most triumphant! 

A short distance farther downhill through downtown Junction and we arrived at the Junction City Park.

Cycling from Lake Buchanan across the Texas Hill Country to Junction Texas via FM1871, Catrike, Scattante 570, Gil Jones, Don Bynum

We made it! Gil straightens his back and arms, while I keep my weight off my right knee. We were both fine by the next morning.

This is the park where in August of 1962 Bob Dawes, Eric Brewster and I parked my old Jaguar XK-140 and camped for the night on our way to a pre-college week in Garner State Park.  I believe we camped just a few feet from where the picture above was taken.  We had some memorably funny moments involving a hand-axe, a flashlight and some mischievous local teens, but I will leave that story for Bob or Eric to tell.  That was so long ago.

We loaded up the machines in the truck and went to the Valero Truckstop at US83 and I-10 and got showers there ($5 each nice facilities).  Then we went down to Lum’s BBQ and seriously pigged out before driving home. 

Lum's BBQ - On US83 south of I-10 about a mile - Go There!

This great adventure would have been very difficult without the help of my wife, Peggy, who drove along near us  carrying water, bananas, apples, spare energy gels, almonds, and her ever present camera. She made sure we would have help if we had a breakdown out in the boonies, and that was a great comfort and help on this adventure.

All told we rode 101.5 miles.  Garmin thinks I burned 7,005 calories and climbed something like 3,800-4,000 feet.  Not bad. 


7 responses to “Cycling – 101.5 miles! … No! … 101.5 Hilly Miles!

  1. I totally agree with Victor.

  2. Pingback: I may be ready to write a really funny book | Musings of Captain Justice

  3. Super write-up, Don. I like the way you collaged the maps and mini-photos, etc. Draws a great picture. And not only did Peggy save our hides, again, but the photos are supberb!

    Congratulations on your first Century. I’m proud to have survived it with you. Now for the next one, can we go down to the coast on flat ground with a tail wind?

  4. Pingback: Texas Bicycling Blog and News Roundup for October 28th «

  5. William Wicker

    Well done to you both, Sir! I take off my hat to you. That’s quite the accomplishment.

  6. Hi Don,
    For that ride I have one word only: AMAZING! And a very interesting posting, especially with the maps and pics.
    Have a great weekend, and safe bicycling,

  7. Pingback: (67 x 3) + 74 = 83 | Musings of Captain Justice

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