Saturday was one of the few occasions I've actually carried my bicycle to a ride on the back of my car. The Fall Finale Country Path Ramble is worth the drive to get there.
Once again, Chris proved beyond measure with his hospitality. We arrived on a chilly but sunny morning, with breakfast tacos awaiting us to get our furnaces going. The weather for the annual ramble on (mostly) unpaved roads couldn't have been better. Cool in the morning, steadily warming during the day, and virtually no wind to fight us. Just a few lazy clouds got in the way of the sun once or twice.
Shortly before our scheduled starting time of 10 am, Chris (in the blue jacket) briefed us on the ride. Things went subtly smoother this year. I think the riders knew what to expect this year and came better prepared, and Chris was better prepared as well, printing out several cue sheets so that people wouldn't get lost.
We started out on pavement,
but soon that gave way to chip seal.
We saw our first livestock.
When we got to this bridge last year, it was still under construction. A lot smoother this time.
After the bridge, though, the pavement gave way to stone roads. This is why we ride today.
We were all fresh, so the first few hills are easy.
One might ask, why choose to ride on stone roads?
My answer is that there is less motor traffic, and it tends to be locals that aren't in too much of a hurry.
But as I was riding, I also realized that it's a different challenge. It's not mountain biking by any stretch, but it's more "technical" than road cycling normally is. You have to choose your line more carefully, trying to find the smoothest path, and trying not get caught in pockets of deep stone.
It takes a little more oomph as well.
Taking a picture of Chris taking a picture.
This is what passes for fall foliage in Texas.
The grades are shallow, but long.
I have a suspicion the sign went up first and then they felt obligated to build the road accordingly. ;- )
Coming up to the highest point of the ride. The smiles are because the climb is complete.
My steed. It started life as a 1994 Nishiki Sport XRS hybrid, but is now uniquely mine.
From this spot you can see the wide open spaces.
If you read Chris's blog, you know this is the reason why he rides: to drink coffee a few miles from home.
The road goes on forever.
Another new bridge.
The old one was more interesting.
We encountered a few dogs along the way. Most didn't threaten us very much. One came out as we passed by. I knew she wouldn't get the rider ahead of me and she turned her sights on me. Rather than outrun her, I decided to stop. She just wanted to make friends! Several of us stopped and she showered us all with kisses. I told the others to take off and I would deal with her. She wanted to come with us. I tried to get her to stay by shouting, "NO! BAD DOG!" She was so crestfallen I had to pet her and cheer her up. Then I tried, "GO HOME!" She kind of started following me, but realized that our encounter was over.
Close to Rosston, the turnaround point. Here is a chimney from an old cabin.
The most impressive dog encounter was just before we came into Rosston. The rider ahead of me was charged by a black lab. Just as the dog got up to the bike, he pointed at the dog and yelled, "NO!" The dog sat down and watched the rest of us go by. All in all, no riders or dogs were hurt during the ride.
The Rosston General Store.
The store first opened in 1879. I wonder if the wood stove is original?
Zack thought the barbecue was delicious. The dog wanted to try it as well.
This is the crew that made the ride.
Time to head back.
The downhill into Rosston becomes a climb on the way home.
Another one of those new bridges.
What is down there anyway?
Don't make faces; your face could freeze like that!
A coyote carcass on a pole. A warning to other marauding coyotes?
Almost home now. Pavement never felt so good.
Last year, I was among the first to Rosston, owing to the lead cyclists making a wrong turn. On the way back to Chris's house this year, my legs were shot and I didn't think I was gonna make it. But again (even with cue sheets), the leaders missed the last turn, and I somehow managed to be the first rider back. So I got to take pictures of the arriving riders.
There were a few pictures I didn't post here. You can see all my pictures on my photobucket account. There is also an album of photos here. And Chris's account his now posted on his blog.
Thus ended another successful Ramble. These rides are fun. First of all, the fellowship of other riders is enjoyable. Also, the roads and scenery are so different from my usual urban experience. It's hard to imagine having this much fun for so little money. Thanks again, Chris, for your hospitality.