First off I had never heard of Tour de Goat Neck until my friend David Landmann over on Road Kill posted it as an alternate group ride. When I realized it was near really good mountain biking I immediately began the campaign to get household 6 to buy in to a weekend out of town, with me cycling. After receiving approval I immediately planned everything to the nth degree which I always do, ....and actually then follow 85% or more of the time.
Friday night we were off to Cleburne, maybe a two hour drive or so from Killeen. Dinner was at Vitek's BBQ. If you've never had a gut-pack you are missing out ! It is like a frito pie except it's a "layered" bbq combo plate on top of the fritos. So delicious. Also I thought what the heck, I'll be riding a lot this weekend, so also got a delightful serving of turtle cheesecake.
Saturday morning arrived and the way was made several miles down the road from the hotel to Cleburne High School for the Goatneck ride. Registration was inside and was very well organized and I was in and out in literally less than a minute. After 45 minutes or so of slowly "getting ready" I made the way to the start/finish line which was set on the main road right in front of the school. Grey clouds and cool temperatures greeted every one. As I recall it was mid 70s most of the ride and never made it past the mid 80s.
I went off with the 2d group--the 41 mile participants. The route was not the most scenic or memorable I have ever ridden but three things stood out as memorable. First...no dogs !! Not chased even once. That was a welcome change of operations there ! Second... my power to climb hills must be improving as I big ringed, grinded it out on a nice hill where photographers were set up; I was able to pass a dozen or so other riders and don't recall any passing me. Looking at power data later it said I generated well over 700 watts for a goodly bit on this hill. What did not change is later on in the ride my legs tired. Third... the last rest stop had a misting shelter ! Always very nice to see one of those...and pretty rare that an event has one.
Speaking of rest stops all were well staffed and maintained. Was vey nice that they were 5 miles or so apart rather than the standard 10 to 20. If one needed to stop it seemed like a sign was just up the hill or around the curve that stated "rest stop one mile ahead" !
Right at the two hours of riding mark my average speed increased enough throughout the ride to hit 18 MPH...also meaning 36 miles in and only 5 to go. Here's where my legs rebelled somewhat..no, no cramping or twinging BUT the route got decidedly more uphill prone in the form of what could best be described as false flats. Although on the home straight away to the finish I passes several, a peloton of organized club riders zoomed passed me...and I ended up finishing with only a 17.6 miles per hour average. Yup those last miles took the zip right out of the old pistons !
So it was an awesome ride all in all and I did not stick around, being very hungry and wanting to get on the road toward Dallas County and Cedar Hill State Park to mountain bike. Lunch was at Grumps Burgers and I was not impressed. Way average food was presented after a lengthy 45 minute long line to place the order. The burgers after ordering came out quickly but was what I would consider below average in taste. I guess it was extremely crowded owning to the fact it was only on the 4th day open.
With temperatures starting to rise and it approaching 1 PM or so it was time to make the way up the road toward Cedar Hill.
Winding one's way on US 67 toward the metroplex one is greeted by factory after factory..concrete plants, pipe fitting and metal fabrication seem to be the industries of choice. It is not long past the Dallas County Line that one approaches Joe Pool Lake and the adjoining Cedar Hill State Park. After paying a nominal entry fee per person, and after a several miles drive, we arrived at the trailhead parking lot. It is nicely equipped with parking spaces, picnic tables, a playground for the kiddies and a rest room. We were told to park "on the far side" of the restroom due to an endurance riding event starting at 6 PM hosted by the North Texas Mountain Bike Patrol.
After noting much more intense heat radiating upon skin I slathered on sunscreen 80 SPF and geared up. I really did not know what to expect from this trail except it was supposedly way easier that Cleburne or Dino Valley State Parks. It consists of 3 segments, short green and red segments, and an 8 mile blue or intermediate route. The patrol had cordoned off the red and green loops as they were not going to be used for the event. I rode the blue loop and was amazed.
My average speed on this ride was only 6.6 MPH...but that was because of the nature of it. Climbing and very tight turns were featured. What was so enjoyable, was, that unlike any other tail in Texas I've ridden on, there were no rocks to speak of ! All smooth, buff dirt with the occasional root or tiny drop. Very scenic views of the lake cropped up among the break in the trees on occasion. A good mix of open riding and riding "in the woods" were presented. I stopped quite often for pictures or just to soak in the awesomeness. It seemed like I was back to the park lot in no time and I was impressed enough to give a small donation to the mountain bike patrol. Temperatures for this ride started in the mid 80s and topped in the mid 90s. Not bad at all for this time of year in Texas where we often see temperatures well above 100 degrees.
There are also several hiking trails in Cedar Hill State Park and we stopped on the way out to hike for maybe a mile out and back to a scenic lake overlook. You can tell that the pictures taken on a manual setting with my "good" camera has a blue tint. Likely it was (and still is..ha) set for indoor lighting. After this nice hike it was time to bid adieu to this nice destination and go scurry up some dinner.
Into the Subaru's GPS device I entered the address in Godley, Texas for Norte Del Tacos. The route took us back to Cleburne, through its small industrial area, and on north of town for several miles after which we arrived. All I will say is I hit the culinary delight jackpot with this choice. The chef is Culinary Institute of America trained and the food preparation and taste shined through. The smoked Chile Rellleno with bbq pork was a pleasure to eat. I decided to spoil myself by having an accompanying pineapple soda. So glad my prior planning led me here ! After eating it was time to call it an evening and head back to the La Quinta to review photos and call it an early evening.
Thus concluded a nice Saturday.
Sunday the alarm blared at 5 AM but did not really wish to arise. But up I did do (lol) and managed to get ready and the car packed and bikes loaded and down to the lobby for 6 AM breakfast and check out.
Solovaca Ranch is not far down US 67 in the other direction and very shortly past Glen Rose on a Farm to Market Road (many of our state highways here are called FM or Farm to Markets).
Ready and riding before or shortly after 8 is unusual for me and mountain biking adventures. Usually when my biking pals from Houston visit the CenTex to bike we are not on trail until after 10. It was so nice to start and finish this 7 mile intermediate route in "cool" weather.
One other group arrived but were waiting on other DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) riders before riding. So once again, like Cedar Hill, I had the trails to my self. And the spiders and accompanying webs !
Now I had rode here once before. My excel chart of rides show it to be three years ago I believe. At that time I had described it as easy intermediate. I would say that description still holds as there are plenty of advanced features; all but one area had an easier bypass. This area was steep downs with a less than desirable "start lip drop" --there were two choices, hairball or catnip. I selected one to gingerly "walk" down. Other than that and not clearing the famous technical "hill climb" I did well and averaged faster than at Cedar Hill . There are a lot of rocky down hill straight aways to make good time on. Some of the route traverses along a creekside and there is even a wooded structure one rides under and then, later in the ride, goes over.
Once again it seemed too short of a ride when I rolled up to the finish at the trailhead. But I was not about to tempt anything as I had 3 solid rides in about 27 hours. We took our time chilling for a bit and then headed back toward home at what I like to call The Centex. Shortly after departing the ranch we did see an ambulance screaming down that FM. Hopefully the riders that finally started their ride as we were departing were/are all okay ! There are some very technical areas out there if one chooses to try them.
Around noon we arrived back to the Killeen/Ft Hood metro and thus finished a very nice riding weekend.
Please enjoy the video which is the perfect length at 12 minutes to cool down after a "Spinervals" workout. Excuse the music as one finds what one finds when perusing the "free" community commons licensed music.
All photos in this story, plus an expanded selection, can be found at my flickr site: www.flickr.com/photos/armyslowrdr/sets/ then select "Weekend Trifecta".
Wow, I am at my desk at work and it is almost noon. Yaaayz :) Lunch time !
Until next time...happy riding ! :)
2013 07 28 Weekend Ride Trifecta from Pete K on Vimeo.