Tag Archives: Wild Flowers

Two days and two really fun rides

Wednesday afternoon, with the temperature about 70 degrees F ( I think it may be measured in furlongs in Europe) under clear blue skies, Peggy and I got out and did a 6 mile meander through several nearby neighborhoods. We went slow and enjoyed the sightseeing.  I love riding with Peggy.  It just makes me feel good.

Today (Thursday), I rode the 17-1/2 miles over to Llano to meet a friend I had not seen in 29 years. Mark Belcher and I worked at a small computer start-up back in 1984 and had not had any contact since until recently when I tracked me down via Linked-In on the internet. Mark was in the area for some vacation time with his sister and her family and suggested that we have lunch, so I agreed, picking… wait for it… yes! The Berry Street Bakery in Llano.

Mark Belcher and I had some laughs and a great lunch at The Berry Street Bakery in Llano.

Mark Belcher and I had some laughs and a great lunch at The Berry Street Bakery in Llano.

We spent two hours catching up on 29 years of our two lives and having a couple of serious laughs at the expense of a couple of previous coworkers.

Afterwards I rode back to Lake Buchanan, taking my time to enjoy the flurry of emerging wildflower activity brought on by a recent downpour. 

Tomorrow 3-4 of us cycling geezerfolk will ride over to Llano for lunch at… wait for it… YES!  The Berry Street Bakery! 

It is really nice to be getting out and riding after a very slow month of February.  I guess not that many 69 year guys fret over only riding 150 miles in a month. 

Life is pretty good.

I am beginning to hanker for a Cherokee Burger and some Miss Sue’s Sweet Tea so there is a 67 mile ride in my near future.  That will help!

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Cycling – 61 miles of Wildflowers on March 24, 2012

On Saturday 24 March, Don Senzig and I made a pilgrimage to enjoy the great wildflower show on some favorite back-country roads out west of Lake Buchanan in northeastern Llano County.  Don did it on his road bike and I rode my Catrike Road.  My Garmin Heart Rate Monitor/GPS thinks I burned just under 4,000 calories.  For folks not in as good a shape as the two of us (average age about 72!) you can drive this route in your car.  If you do choose to drive, for Pete’s sake roll down all the windows and enjoy the smells of spring as well as the sights.  Our route is shown on the map below.  Then there will just be lots of pictures and very few words after that.

2012 Wildflowers in Llano County west of lake buchanan seen on cycling ride

The route started and ended to the lower right end of the route. Went to CR216 then north and west to TX16. Then north to CR226 then north and east to the end of the paved road (San Saba County doesn't pave many roads). Then back down to TX 16 and north to Cherokee for a burger at the Cherokee Store. Then south on TX16 to Llano CR215 then east to FM2241 and back to the start. 61 miles of cycling heaven!

 While there are some pretty flowers on TX261 and FM2241 before you get to CR216, we knew the best was NOT on those roads.

Wildflowers

Llano CR216

After CR216 we went north on TX16 to CR226.  In the shot below we are about to turn off TX16 onto CR226.

Wildflowers in llano County 2012

Texas wildflowers in 2012

Llano CR226 was Very nice

Bluebonnets and Sables on Llano CR226

Don thinks these are Sables. I wonder if they like the taste of bluebonnets or maybe know how great they look lounging amongst them. CR226

No unicorns on CR226, but it looked sorta like there might be.

Llano CR226 wildflowers about and the low water crossings are running

One of many cooling splashes through crossings of tributaries of the Little Llano River - CR226

I promise that was NOT a Unicorn!  Late breaking news!  Don Senzig has advised me that the horned critters are scimitar oryx, not sable antelope.

After returning to TX16 and riding about 6 miles north (mostly uphill) to Cherokee we enjoyed a burger and some of Miss Sue’s (the proprietress) sweet tea, then headed back south.  After going through Baby Head Pass the flowers started getting really thick again.

Bluebonnets in Llano County - March of 2012

TX16 Southbound. I am sorry about the hairy leg that keeps showing up, but riding the Catrike and shooting with the on-board camera makes it tough to avoid a little manly leg showing up from time to time.

I also show a few seconds of video as we cruised down TX16 (lots of welcome downhills).  Click here to view it.

TX16 Southbound.

 Eventually we reached the turnoff to Llano CR215, which climbs over two ridges then descends to intersect FM2241.

CR215 - Indian Paintbrushes coming up among the Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets - Texas Hill Country 2012

I feel sorry for people who cannot ride a bike (or Catrike) far enough to enjoy a ride like this.  I feel even sorrier for people too lazy to even get out in their car, roll down the windows and drive this route.  It is truly spectacular this year.  The Bluebonnets, Paint Brushes, Phlox, Wine Cups, and 6 or 7 varieties of yellow flowers are really making a show in 2012.

There are several other places to see the wildflowers online,

A cycling blog post with pictures on most of the route shown above , but two weeks earlier can be seen (click here) , or…

Pictures from a couple of weeks back on TX29 between Burnet and the Inks Lake Bridge  are also online (yup… click)

Really great wildflowers and floodwaters pictures taken on March 19 by Jim Baines.

..

Cycling – New friends met through the blog

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.

Cycling, Llano County, Burnet County, Park Road 4, Inks Lake, Llano Slab

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.

Cycling, Gwen Peterson, Pat Peterson, John Chalmers, Doug Miller, Don Bynum, Inks Lake, Kingsland TX, Hoover Valley Store

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.

Fuxxys Corner, FM261, Lakeshore Drive, Lake Buchanan, Lake Buchanan - inks Lake Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Center, Devils Water Hole Hoover Valley Country Store

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.

Cycling, Llano County, Doug Miller, John Chalmers, Pat and Beth Peterson

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)

Cycling, Tandem Bike, FM1431 and TX29, Fuzzy's Corner, Beth Peterson, Pat Peterson

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, FM261, TX29 Lake Buchanan, Cycling, Llano County

Doug Miller leads the group up to the intersection of FM261 and TX29

John Chalmers and Pat and Beth, also approaching TX29 on FM261

Pat Peterson, Beth Peterson, Tandem Bike

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!"

Lake Buchanan - Inks Lake Chamber of Commerce, Cycling, maps, Beth Peterson, Pat Peterson

The group stopped at the Buchanan-Inks Chamber office and Visitors Center so Pat and Beth could stock up on maps and area information

cycling, tandem bike, Pat Peterson, Beth Peterson, Inks Lake, Texas Park Road 4

With Inks Lake in the background Pat and Beth experience one of the MANY short, but steep climbs on Park Road 4

Devil's Water Hole, Inks Lake, Cycling, Pat Peterson, Beth Peterson

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!

Cycling – 28.5 miles from Lone Grove with two new cycling friends

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.   

Cycling and Wild Flowers in Llano County - Lone Grove Community Ctr

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. 

Cycling and wild flowers in Llano County Texas - Hill Country

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!

Cycling Texas Llano Country during bluebonnet season

Bluebonnets along CR216

Cycling to see wildflowers in Llano County, Texas Hill Country

mesquite and bluebonnets on CR216

Llano County Road 226 seriously burled oak tree seen while cycling

Seriously burled huge oak tree off CR226

Wildflower cycling tour in Llano County TX

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 - Texas Hill Country

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. 

Don