“Bright and Early”, right JP? We started of at 6:00 am on Wednesday. Gina and James rode together and Joel, JP and I were in the silver bullet. We made it to Lajitas with enough time to set up camp and go for a 7-mile ride on the Lajitas Trial, Loop 3 (Joel, JP and I). Boy that was fun! So much fun in fact that we turned around and rode up hill so we could do it again. Swishin, swoopin and a whoopin.
Went to sleep early with visions of the Old Ore Road in my head. Up and at it early in the morning to drive over to Big Bend National Park to ride with some 60 other Desert Fest friends. The Old Ore Road is an un-improved rocky jeep road with plenty of big views and not so small sights along the way, including Dead Horse Mountains, Chisos Mountains, McKinney Spring, Telephone Canyon, Willow Tank and the Tinajas. From start to finish was around 32 miles. We had some grinder ups and thriller downs. On one grinder up, Joel (thunder thighs) bent his rear skewer causing the rear wheel to come out of the drops and in turn turning the rear wheel into a taco (true Mexican taco). End of the road for Joel (He made some new fiends in the red sag truck). We made it another 4 miles to the biggest thigh-burner climb out of the canyon to the paved road leading down to the Rio Grande for a dip into the hot springs. I swam way past the halfway point of the river, so I am saying that I visited Mexico! We all found a spot in the pool for a little relaxation. The pool was crowed. Somehow, we missed most of the rain on our ride but got to see the rainbows. After we got back at camp, cleaned up and fed, we watched James play with his star app on the phone. Yep, the stars were big and bright. That did change as the rain moved back in. We had a different show – lightning.
Next morning we were up and almost ready to go with the mass of riders (3 big groups) headed to the Lajitas Trail (we were a little late starting). It was a nice 1-mile road ride warm-up to the trails. The leaders wanted us to stay off of one section that was too muddy from the nights rain. We rode loops 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, and 5 to finish it out. Loop 1 is a jeep road – still fun! Loop 2 is a prelude to 3 – FUN. Had way too much fun on Loop 3 (again). When we got to loop 4, I could not stop laughing with joy and pure pleasure (could you hear me say Weee Weee Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee in College Station?). We finished it off on the dashed loop 5. Not quite so fun. Spent some time in the river bed gravel. Made it back to the campsite for lunch. Still did not have enough riding after 22 miles, so JP, Joel and I went on to the Dome Loop at Big Bend Ranch State Park for 18 more miles. This was a preview for the Epic on Saturday. There were a few trails like the Lajitas Trail (swoopy), and some more like Miracle Mile on the Green Belt in Austin (big loose rocks on steep down hill). We found the Crystals on Crystal Trail, Dog Cholla cactus on the Dog Cholla Trial, and the waterhole on the Contrabando Waterhole. Only Bandito was Joel. Lots of big views, including a look at the Cheetos I mean Chisos mountains. We made it back with daylight left and plenty of time to check in with Skip at the Specialized truck and to pick up a few beverages. He let Joel use a back wheel because Joel’s would not go round and round like the wheels on the bus. Skip wanted to make sure the Joel did not taco his rim also. Joel’s new name after this ride was Ballerina because he tippy toed his way thru the rocks with such elegance and ease (no more thunder thigh). The rim was as true as it was when he got it in the morning. We got cleaned up and took a road trip towards Terlingua where the group treated me to a chili cheeseburger at the Starlight Theater for my birthday. The ONLY thing that could have made this day any better for me was to have Debbie and more friends with me! Happy Mike made it back into the tent with visions of tornados and lighting crashing in his head. Oh, wait that really was a tornado that twisted the shade canopy into a mangled mess (just strong winds). Joel, JP, did you hear that? Hear what? They slept thru the entire thing, including Gina, James and I pulling the canopy down the rest of the way. They did not even wake up thru the thunder and lighting.
Next morning was a little damp! Gina and James were both too sick to ride. JP, Joel and I arrived 10 minutes early – really, with JP pushing us to go! We met at the Barton Warnock Center with our other +-40 Epic friends for the mornings briefing. Here is the summary of the brief “ride, have fun, drink water and don’t get caught by the grim reaper trail sweeper (Mike with Desert Sports). This was a long day. We started at 8:00 and finished around 4:00? It was a difficult ride with plenty of good and bad moments. Bad = mostly uphill for 32 miles to the Sauceda visitor center with a head wind. Good = the other 24 miles were mostly down hill with a tail wind. Seriously, there was a 5-mile uphill stretch at steep grade (4 mph). One down hill was so long that my braking fingers got tired (yes I used the brakes!). They had 4 water stations with rangers and park volunteers watching people for signs of dehydration. Good thing the water stations were there. It would be difficult to ride only half of this trail with two water bottles AND a hydration pack. After one last big push up hill (top of the world) we were into Fresno Canyon – what a blast! By the end, we were ready to call it a day – no energy left over for side trails. JP did not even have the patience for one last picture (my camera was acting up and he was hungry). Back to the campsite for some stories, serious food and drink – Italian sausage and Tequila Sunset (Patron and grapefruit juice).
Up in the morning to pack thing away and say thank you and good by to the desert. One last stop at Fort Stockton for some food and a picture with Pecos Pete.
Yes, EPIC week.