A couple of weeks back, I received a comment on the blog from a woman in Wisconsin. A google search about cycling in this area had led her to my humble blog. She and her husband were coming to a family reunion in the our area in a few days and wanted to do some cycling while here. Beth Peterson and her husband Pat are avid tandem bike riders and go to tandem rallies all over the country when they can get away. The reunion they were coming for was going to be based at The Heart of Texas Resort, located on the upper reaches of Lake LBJ, just below the Inks Lake Dam and Fishery and about 1/2 mile from the Hoover Valley Store on Park Road 4. I put out the word to The Hillybikers and we quickly pulled together a small group to do a 40+ mile tour around the area with Pat and Beth.
Route for the October 14th ride with Pat and Beth Peterson from Wisconsin
On Friday, October 14th, we all met at The Hoover Valley Country Store on Park Road 4. Park Road 4 is a serious favorite road for me. It runs south from TX29 on the eastern slopes of the pink granite ridge that sits to the east of Inks Lake. Going south in very hilly terrain PR4 skirts the lake, providing great views, a couple of which are “take my breath away” beautiful. Often, when riding early in the morning, we see a lot of wild-life such as deer, turkeys, red-tail hawks, osprey, foxes, raccoons, and even the occasional skunk. In the spring and fall, if there have been any rains, there are wildflowers that can be very showy.
Start at the Hoover Valley Store, head south on PR4/FM2342 to FM1431
From the store we headed south on PR4 to its intersection with FM2342. We bore right onto Fm2342 and carried on to the southwest to FM1431, across 1431 from Spykes BBQ (worth a visit if you are in the area and need to treat a protein deficiency… very good BBQ).
We turned right onto FM1431 across from Spykes BBQ, wandered through part of Kingsland then joined River Oaks Drive and eventually left on Slab Road to the Llano Slab before heading on west to TX 71 where we turned around and headed back toward the slab.
But, it was early, so we had to fore-go a visit to Spykes. We turned right (north on 1431) and crossed the Colorado River arm of Lake LBJ then about a half mile north we turned off into a maze of local surface streets that wandered through the “Llanorado” area of Kingsland until we came to RR2900.
There we crossed 2900 and joined up with River Oaks Drive, which rolls along beside the Llano River arm of Lake LBJ for a few miles. Eventually we made it to Llano Slab Road (AKA FM3404) and turned west. Just after joining 3404 we descended to the Llano River where the road crosses at a geologic formation known as The Llano Slab.
In this area the river flows directly on a bed of the pink granite bedrock for which the area is well-known. Due to recent rains we were treated to the sights and sounds of the water swirling and undulating across the width of the slab (around 70 yards across at that point). I did not get any pictures, but Beth was snapping furiously away as we pedaled our way across the low water bridge. About 2/3 of the way across we stopped and let our visitors enjoy the sights and sounds. Being from Wisconsin they are not strangers to running rivers, but I sensed that they somehow also picked up on the reverence and awe that most Texans feel for that particular river. If Beth sends me any of those pictures I will post them in this report as an update.
Rolling on west from The Slab we joined Llano County Road 307. We cruised through hilly green (thanks to recent rains!) ranch land and through “pecan bottoms.” Pat and Beth saw large stands of mature pecan (pronounced “puhh-con” in the civilized world, never, ever say “pea-can”) trees and herds of grazing cattle, including a calf that stood in rapt attention as the tandem cranked past it… all the while Beth was balanced precariously on the back seat shooting pictures like crazy. The one moment she did not have the camera up and ready to shoot, a road runner dashed out into the road ahead of them and across and off into the nearby brush.
Eventually CR307 brought us to TX71 where we took a break and then returned to the east. We crossed the slab again and climbed out FM3404 to the east until it intersected FM1431. At that point we turned north on 1431 and headed up toward Lake Buchanan. Along the way my wife, Peggy came across us and got out her camera and got some pictures of the group as we proceeded north toward FM261 (Lakeshore Dr) along the west shore of Lake Buchanan.
The last half of the loop
The ride north involves only one hill worthy of any notice, and not a really steep one, but it is about 3/4 of a mile long and will get your goat given the chance.
Doug Miller and John Chalmers lead the way as Pat and Beth have just crested the long climb on the way up to Fuzzy's Corner (Fm1431 and TX29)
Pat and Beth arrive at Fuzzy's Corner with Pack Saddle Mountain in the backround
After riding on to where FM1431 intersects FM261 we turned south, riding along the west shore of Lake Buchanan to TX 29.
Doug Miller leads the group up to the intersection of FM261 and TX29
John Chalmers and Pat and Beth, also approaching TX29 on FM261
I don't know how to describe those smiles in Wisconsinese, but in Texan we would say "they're smilin' like a jackass eatin' cactus!"
The group stopped at the Buchanan-Inks Chamber office and Visitors Center so Pat and Beth could stock up on maps and area information
With Inks Lake in the background Pat and Beth experience one of the MANY short, but steep climbs on Park Road 4
Pat and Beth, having lived through the climb to the overlook at The Devil's Water Hole, look like they may be having a good time.
Surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Texas Hill Country, Pat and Beth climb one last hill before we arrive back at The Hoover Valley Store.
Back at our starting point, we all, including my wife Peggy (she took all of these pictures and many more), descended on the cafe and had lunch while we seasoned the memories we had made during the morning’s 42-mile sharing of our love of cycling, and for us local rustics, our love of the special place in which we are lucky enough to live. Beth and Pat, y’all come back any time you want!