Having found this blog, a new friend Frank (no last names for privacy reasons) contacted me a few weeks back and we set a date for him and a cycling pal of his, Sam, to come down from Glen Rose (TX) to do some wildflower-focused cycling. Frank reported that the two of them make trips all around Glen Rose, often riding 30 miles in a single outing, so they were obviously gonna be able to ride anything I could. Frank and Sam were also not new to the Texas Hill Country and the wildflowers that grace our part of the state most years. But… they had previously ridden in organized events in Gillespie and Kerr Counties, … never in Llano County. They could not believe the “target rich environment” the county roads of llano County present for cycling enthusiasts, even for those of us well into our “geezerhood!” The bottom line is that they said that this trip to Llano County for cycling will not be their last.
Bluebonnets and Paintbrushes at the Lone Grove Community Center
We met at the Lone Grove Community Center at the intersection of Ranch Road 2241 and Llano County Road 216. I have previously reported on two rides starting from there:
1- going across CR216 to TX 16 south to CR215 to RR2241 and back to Lone Grove, and,
2- going across CR216 to TX then north to CR226 and out to where the pavement ends then back via CR226, TX16, and CR216 to lone Grove.
The wild flowers on both those routes have been nothing short of spectacular, so we combined the two and rode from Lone Grove across CR216 to TX16, north to CR226 to its end then back on CR226 to TX 16 and south all the way down to CR215 and across it to RR2241 then back to Lone Grove. This is a 28.5 mile ride. The wild flowers exceeded expectations. Bluebonnets, paintbrushes, coreopsis, white poppies, indian blankets, verbenas, and even quite a few early wine cups were thick not only along the right-of ways, but up hills, across pastures, and along creek banks.
Tres Geezeros start out on a 28.5 mile ride through wild flower heaven!
We took our time, being a trio of two 66 year-olds and a 68 year-old and more interested in the sights than in pretending we could ever keep up with our native son Tour de France winner (Lance Armstrong… I have found that we have readers from so far away that they may not realize that Lance is a Hill Country resident.) Including stops to take pictures, munch on snacks, and whatever else came to mind, the ride took 3 hours and 56 minutes. My snazzy heart rate monitor/watch/exercise gadget says my max heart rate was 155 beats per minute with a sleepy average of 107 BPM and a total calorie burn of 2134 for the ride. The 155 came on the southbound leg on TX16 with Sam, the 68-year-old setting a blistering pace in order to get off the road that 18 wheelers inhabit as soon as possible. But we saw only a couple of big rigs and they courteously gave us lots of room as they passed, so the haste was not really needed.
Everywhere we looked we saw wildflowers. It was truly amazing. Rather than try to describe it, pictures follow.
Off we go into the hills!
Bluebonnets along CR216
mesquite and bluebonnets on CR216
Seriously burled huge oak tree off CR226
Bluebonnets and coreopsis on CR226
It is likely that cows dried up and children fled at this strange sight.
Sam gets to the summit on CR215 well ahead of Frank and Don
The view from the summit of Llano CR 215 - looking south.Everywhere we looked, there were bluebonnets, paintbrushes, ...
It just does not get much better than this... about to descend on CR215
We descended from the summit on CR215, took a left on RR2241 and shortly found that we had finished the day’s planned ride. Frank and Sam were planning to check into a local motel then join Peggy and me for dinner at Tamale King after a couple of hours of rest. As we were loading the bikes and trike up, I suggested that Frank and Sam should take the detour down Shaw Island Road on the way back to their motel and check out the bluebonnets in a dry cove there (Lake Buchanan is up about 20 feet since last September but still down about 10 feet from full, so there are still some dry coves.) Following are pictures Frank took there.
Bluebonnets near Shaw island on Lake Buchanan
Even a dry cove can be beautiful during bluebonnet season.
After we all had time to shower, rest, and recover a little we met for dinner at Tamale King and ended up closing the place after a great dinner and a couple of bottles of a very good Yellow Tail Merlot/Cabernet blended wine. To have heard us all laughing and telling stories about the long lives we have all enjoyed must have driven everyone else out of the place… oh wait, it closes at 9:00 on weekday nights and we left about 10:30 so maybe we just outlasted all the “youngsters.”
Peggy, Sam and Don (Frank took the picture) at Tamale King.
Frank and Sam both swore they are gonna come back for some more of this Llano County Cyclin’ stuff as they had never seen better wild flowers and had done it on a really great ride on varied terrain in perfect weather. I plan to stop in at Glen Rose and let them show me around the back roads up there before long. This was a really, really good day.
As always, I extend to any reader of this blog the invitation to come ride the back roads of Llano County with me. The sights are great, the people are friendly, we have world-class TexMex and BBQ joints and miles and miles of beautiful back roads with little traffic. Now that Lake Buchanan is within only about 10 feet of full, the boating and fishing are good again. There are many good places to stay around the lake itself as well as rental cabins out in western Llano County in Castell and a beauty of a B&B at Walden Plantation out towards Castell. Send me a comment to let me know when you can come out and ride.
My next post will be about sailing! Regatta season started with a bang in Shreveport, Louisiana last weekend and Peggy and I had a great weekend at the Shreveport Yacht Club and I survived sailing in really windy conditions after two years of not getting on the Sunfish due to the rigors of moving to Lake Buchanan. I only capsized once, though I did abandon ship once to avoid a capsize to windward while dodging a boat (a friend, at that!) that failed to yield right of way. That post is upcoming soon.