Del Rio to Navasota, Texas
The Texas Hill Country is very aptly named. You either climb or descend but there is virtually no level ground. The only flat would be on a tire but, fortunately for our group, even those have been few and far between in the last week. The Melbourne Causeway has a 4-5% grade and many consider that to be quite challenging. However, that is very mild compared to the these hills. The steepest grades in the far west were 6-8% but these hills regularly run 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and even about 8 of them have been 14%.
When grades exceed 10%, we start to "Mailman or Paperboy," the terms for zig-zagging from one side of the road to the other to effectively lessen the steepness of the grade. Of course, you cannot do that on a busy road. Some of the riders have walked their bikes up a few of the steeper hills but I chose to just tough it out.
The benefits of the steeper uphills, however, are the nice downhills. However, with the coarse pavement we must control our speed very closely because falling on that surface would be disastrous. The birds would have a feast on what we would leave behind as we scraped to a stop. My top speed on those downhills was only slightly over 40 mph.
Although the roads have been challenging, the Hill Country is among the most beautiful to ride through. The route into Austin meandered along the Guadalupe River and showcased an assortment of large mansions. Then the ride to Navasota wound through mile after mile of picturesque farm country. Indeed, the scenery was worth the more than 20,000' of climbing.
There has been a wide variety of road kill along the way. Although I have not been specifically counting, the possums, raccoons and armadillos are about tied. In fourth place come the skunks which, due to certain characteristics, may simply be more memorable than the others. Then there have been various birds, a deer and a dog. However, the most bizarre to date has been a cow. We conjectured that she simply grew tired of all the demands placed upon her and chose to jump in front of a truck.
In any event, the hill country will not last forever and more gradual slopes await us over the succeeding weeks. I can't wait!
When you reach your limits, that is the real joy!
Look what someone threw away. They must have thought it said "Trash" on the bike instead of "Trek."