What a difference a day (and two months) makes…


The weather was beautiful today, 83 degrees, and no wind. Two months ago I posted a ride on Strava that I named “easy 40 after work” in which 40 referred to 40 minutes. Many folks thought I meant 40 miles, and at the time, I didn’t know if I would ever complete a 40 mile ride again. Well last night I posted up 42 miles, and it felt very good to do so. I’m a little tired today, but not broken completely, and all I can say is tangible progress is a fantastic feeling.
Clint Eastwood (The Gorillaz song, not the actor)

“They got gators” however on this particular ride, the rabbits were more dangerous.

I’d been wanting to ride at Fort Polk for a while now, but timing and transportation just hadn’t worked out until this last trip. My friend Patrick was there for a few weeks and he had brought his cross bike (a Trek Boone). He has been riding daily, and texted me to let me know he found a few cool gravel trails, and some fire roads that would be suitable for a good time, so I prepped up Zoe (my Kona). I had some really good Continental Cross Speeds on the bike all winter and they were getting a bit bare, so I swapped on the Gravel King SKs I’ve been sitting on for a few months (more on those later…), cleaned her up some, and changed out the mount for my ELEMNT to the “Out Front”.
We kicked off right in front of the billeting Patrick is staying in, so we were on pavement for the first few miles, then we picked up the gravel path that runs the length of post. There were some seriously fun swooping sections, switchbacks, a rail crossing, a couple of ponds, and plenty of shade to make the oppressive Louisiana humidity bearable. I broke off down a couple of the dirt roads, and I wish I had more time to ride those, they were really nice, smooth, hard pack, and fast. Overall it was a cool ride, though short. Next time I do it I’ll build in more time for the side roads, and a spin around the airfield to get some legit miles in. ┬áSee the Strava page here.
As far as the Gravel Kings go, they are fantastic tires. All the supple side wall I had read about, and really good traction. Even on the asphalt, there was no buzz or hum, and they just felt like good road tires. I ran them at 40 psi with standard cross tubes in them (that I didn’t powder for whatever reason), though I’m looking forward to setting them up tubeless. I think honestly that once setup tubeless, they will make the bike almost perfect for the kind of random riding I do most.

I had a fantastic ride at Cameron Park Monday.

I haven’t been riding the MTB much lately (like AT ALL), so Monday I had to be in Waco for work, I threw it in the truck, hoping to have a few minutes to escape and knock out a few miles. Fortune favored my foolish self, and I finished up with 3 hours to play. I have never ridden there at all so I swung by the most recommended bike shop by guys on bikemojo, its called “The Bear Mountain“. I can’t recommend the shop enough. The staff was awesome, took some time to talk to me about the trails, where to park (where NOT to park) and even how to beat traffic getting from there to the trail-head. They had maps of the local trails, which not a single shop in Austin offers, (are you listening ATX??) and literally everyone in the shop had a little input about good lines and segments. They also had President George W Bush’s old Trek, which was cool to see. Apparently he has his bike maintained there. If you’re in Waco and you aren’t a member of their cycling club, you’re wrong. These guys do it right.
So, I set up at Pecan Bottoms, which they explained to me is basically the “low ground” (hence the name “bottoms” I guess) as I like to make my climbs on the way out rather than when I’m crushed on the way home, especially when I’m unfamiliar with the trails in general. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, there was a lot of climbing, the difficulty of which Strava leaves out, as its only 100 feet or so at a time, but at a 12-15% grade. I got in about 10 miles total and I was good and smoked at the end. I was really happy that I saved half my sandwich from “Schmaltz’s” to eat when I got back to the truck, because I was starving.
**Some Trail Notes-
1. The maps show water points along the trail, however none of the ones I found on the trail were functional.
2. The trail markings are very good when they are present, however they are missing or incomplete in many areas, which in their defense, look to be pretty new and perhaps not marked yet. (even the bad ones are marked better than any in the ATX)
3. Most of the trails showed up in the maps on my ELEMNT, even the newer ones, which l assume is due to open street maps.