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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

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Old 11-29-08, 08:15 PM   #1
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I didn't know if I could do it....

I went to Big Bend National Park with my brother and some friends recently. During the planning stages of the trip I decided to ride by bike from Rio Grande Village on the river to the Chisos Basin Lodge, this is uphill all the way and climbs from about 1800' to about 5800' over 29 miles. The worst is near the end where the grade exceeds 11% in some places. The idea was for me to drive to the end at the river and park my truck there, ride back up the mountain and meet my brother and some kids. Then we would all ride back downhill to the river, where I left my truck. Then we could all load up and drive back to the Basin Lodge.

It was 45 F when I started out, uphill right from the beginning. The first 23 miles were a grind as it was a steady climb all the way to about 4100'. Then I turned left on the Basin road and the fun really started. The next 5 miles climbs to about 5800' and it gets steeper the further you go. By the time I got on this slope my legs were already burning. I was happy I had a triple chain ring on my bike. I would sit and grind away until my legs would feel like it was all I could take, then I would stand and climb until that too was all I could bear. Twice, I stopped to rest about 1 or 2 minutes. But, I did make it all the way!

The ride down was certainly much easier. I did hit 44 mph on the downhill run. I was a little concerned about my companions going down the hill, but they all survived. Then the gentle part of the downhill went smooth and we stopped a lot to examine the desert plants, view the scenery, and take pictures.

It may not be much for the bikers on this forum, but I felt pretty good to accomplish this at 50. Especially when I consider that most of the guys that I know that are near my age would not even attempt it.

This park is a great place to ride a bike, the traffic is light and the roads are good. There are plenty of challenging climbs to make, especially this one!
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Old 11-29-08, 08:22 PM   #2
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In 1962, on my way to driving to Officers Training School at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, I stopped in Big Bend. It was quite rugged, and I greatly appreciate the steep hills you mention in your post.

I didn't bicycle then, but did hike.

Question - were you bothered by folks crossing the border? I had heard that there were quite q few moving though Big Bend.

Great job and neat write up.
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Old 11-29-08, 08:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by care2ride View Post
It may not be much for the bikers on this forum
Au contraire. Sounds like a damned fine climb. Savor the accomplishment.
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Old 11-29-08, 08:48 PM   #4
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I concur with tsl's assessment. This ride was a worthy accomplishment, especially for a Louisianian.

I'm not sure where you live in LA, but my permanent residence is in the central part of the state, and there aren't any hills on which to practice.

You done good!
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Old 11-29-08, 10:43 PM   #5
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Ooooo. Yeah, this is a serious endeavor. Congrats.
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Old 11-30-08, 01:38 AM   #6
Time for a change.
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Just watch out- Those hills are addictive.The buzz from climbing them is tremendous, but watch out for the side effects of running out of energy and legs turning to jelly.

For a first slope- that is a good one. So well done.
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Old 11-30-08, 07:53 AM   #7
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Well done, especially for a flatlander from LA. Thinking about that next climb yet?
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Old 12-01-08, 10:12 PM   #8
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No problems with "visitors" this place is like 800,000 acres. It is hard to find anyone. We spent one day bouncing along the back roads and only saw a few other tourists.
I live in South Louisiana. It is flatter than a pancake. Only a few places around that you could even call a hill. After this ride I made, nothing counts as a hill here now.
Yeh, I would love to find more real hills to try. I think my relative light weight helps. 5'10" 162 lbs.
Maybe some nice rides in Arkansas? That is a little closer than Big Bend.
Thanks for the vote of confidence on this being a nice accomplishment.
The day after this ride, we hiked up Emory Peak, elevation about 7850'. Was a long hike, in all, about 13 miles. My calves were really sore the next day.
Couple more shots of Big Bend Area.
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