Wonder what groups rides of half a dozen or so riders coming through town and stopping for lunch would do for getting the locals on board? So little investment would bring back so much return. Don't know why this isn't a no-brainer for the little communities along the trail.
I'm definitely down for some fried catfish at Gentle Ben's Fish Den in Pecan Gap. Pecan Gap seems to be where the trouble starts...
couple of FB groups
edit: oops, one of them got deleted.
All, if you are interested, mark August 10th (yep, it's a Friday) down as a red-letter day... Logistics to be worked out, but I am looking to ride from Farmersville to Roxton... on the trail to Pecan Gap (40 miles) and on roads from Pecan Gap to Roxton (mix of FM roads and gravel... pretty, wooded, hilly even! for another 16 (no, make that 10) miles... lunch in Roxton... working through return trip.
As much as i like the idea, I don't think I can pedal fast enough do 56 miles on gravel before lunch. You are far too bad a man for me! I started guessing how many miles you had done on the days that you previously rode the trail and had to stop because it blew my mind.
At this point in my biking newbness, I'm going to have to either do a one-way-one-day trip with car shuttles, or a 2 or 3 day bikepacking trip.
Were all of the fences you encountered between Pecan Gap and Roxton? Or were there some past Roxton?
Correction, the ride is 50 miles one way, 40 on the trail (some of which is not "improved", but very rideable) and 10 on FM/County roads. I am thinking about a 6:45ish start with plans to arrive in Roxton between 11:30 and noon to clean up and eat lunch before the 1:00 pm meeting of the NorthEast Texas Trail (NETT). We are in discussions regarding the possibility of arranging some sag support for the return... so you may have the option of a one way ticket with an air conditioned ride back to the start. I am thinking about a round trip that could end with lights to get back to Farmersville. I think it may be reasonable to average 10 mph if we stay focused and limit our stop time. Of course, anyone could opt for an earlier start! You'd be doing others a service by clearing the spider webs!!!
Bill, all of the fences were between Pecan Gap and Paris. I am planning a route that avoids the fences. That said, not all of the trail is "improved" and some sections are quite rough (not technical, just not smooth and not compatible with hammering the speed...).
More to come...
Sorry for getting the miles wrong. Sounds pretty cool. Keep us posted.
OK, I started a new thread on a plan to ride August 10th... see the post with an attachment with details. Come ride with me!
I'll try to reschedule clients on August 10, so I can offer SAG up to 4 bikes. I think it would be cool to make a respectable showing at the meeting in Roxton.
Nice article about the most recent NETT meeting here:
I see Bergerandfries in the 4th picture...
Indeed, that is me!!!
ride report, fwiw:
I had a good time with the whole adventure. I left here around noon Thursday and headed up toward Greenville. I got some last-minute supplies there, had a delicious meal at Whataburger, and then headed on up toward Ladonia.
I spent the night at the hunter camp in the Caddo Grasslands just west of Ladonia. Being all alone in a quiet place is always an adventure. The camp is nothing fancy, but it has a few things going for it. It's close to Ladonia, which could be a good place to pick up supplies, although I didn't actually go into town. It's easy to find. It's free. It's so dark at night that you can see the milky way. The coyotes sounded great. And, it is very close to the trail. As such, I might use it as my home base for my next ride. On the downside, there's no bathroom or water, and cows moo randomly all night.
My alarm woke me up at 4:30, since I had to meet Lynn down in Farmersville at 6. Wayyy too early. I ate, drank some nasty instant coffee, struck camp, and headed down to Farmersville.
The trailhead in Farmersville was easy to find. There was a restroom and water fountain nearby. The mayor and a fan of the trail, Mark Vincent, were there to greet us and send us on our way. We took off and headed up the paved part of the trail. Jlynnbob is a bad, bad, man, and he rides realllllly fast. On the way out, we met the daily trail crew on their way back in. These guys are retired and they ride the trail every day. I guess during the summer they leave at 5 am? Anyway, there were about 4 of them out there bright and early.
The trail surface was decent. For a while it was paved, and then it turned to fairly hard packed gravel doubletrack. The bridges are a little spooky because you can see down through the ties, but jlynnbob didn't leave me any time for thought. Along the trail, the weeds/grasses were really tall, and lean in toward the trail tread. On a dewy morning we would have gotten thoroughly soaked, but it's been so dry that there was no dew that I noticed. We hammered along (well, I hammered, jlynnbob pedaled easy) and were making good time. We got chased by a couple of sets of dogs. One was pretty persistent. We went fast enough to keep them from getting close, but I would have preferred to hit them with bear spray if I had had some.
We met bergerandfries and bob murdoch in Celeste. The asphalt leading into Celeste really is as dangerous as everyone says, and serves as a good reminder to developers NOT to use asphalt. In Celeste, I realized I had lost the bag I had on my rear rack that had my food and water and spare batteries in it. Giant bummer. On the way back to look for it, a rock kicked up, hit my rear derailer and pushed it into the rear wheel spokes, and the spokes happily wound it up, snapped it off, and locked up my rear tire. Day-ending mechanical. I got a SAG from jtgryk (or whatever Michael's handle is) back to my car. He went out and found my stuff, which had fallen off my rack embarrassingly close to the start of the trip. I ended up with 22 miles ridden.
I loaded my bike into my car and then drove up to Roxton for the meeting. The meeting was really good. Lots of people from different cities along the trail were there. It was encouraging to see how many people were working on their own section of the trail. The lady from the Katy Trail spoke, and it was very cool to see photos and hear stories of their trail. After the meeting I drove home.
I am looking forward to trying again someday soon. Well, not too soon. I'd like for it to be cooler, and for the weeds to die back some. :) My idea for my next ride is to head back up to the camp in Ladonia, and ride from there to Celeste and back on the first day so I can cover the section I haven't ridden yet. On the second day, I'd like to go from Ladonia all the way to Paris, and then head back to Ladonia either on the trail or on the back roads.
bergerandfries and jlynnbob were more successful than I was, but I will leave it to them to tell their stories if they choose to.
cool thanks for the trail report... sorry about the tech issues... didn't know about that camp in Ladonia!
Planning on riding again in a couple of weeks. Reply here if you are interested.
I don't think I would have found the camp on my own - someone else tipped me off. It was sort of spooky and lonely by myself, but would be a cool place with some friends.
Last Friday I rode 39.4 miles from Ladonia to Celeste and back. Here is my story.
I pulled into the Ladonia Lodge and unloaded my bike. The drive up had been good, and I felt ready to have a great ride. I rode around town for a few minutes to make sure everything was mechanically good to go, and then hit the trail at 12:57pm. My previous ride on the Chaparral trail had been on the Farmersville to Celeste segment, and I was pleased to see that the trail near Ladonia was similarly clear and smooth as I headed toward Wolfe City. So far, my hopes of covering the 17 miles to Celeste in 2-2.5 hours seemed easily within reach.
However, the trail quickly became rougher and more overgrown. For the sake of posterity, I was recording my time and distance and taking a photo at every bridge and road crossing. I was able to duck under or bull through most of the overgrowth, but a couple of times I had to stop and duck paddle through a section. There were a lot of places where I ended up going very slowly and standing on the pedals to keep balance, and I dismounted for every bridge with exposed ties. In spite of the overgrowth, my bike and gear were working well, and I was feeling good about life.
However, that was about to change. I was expecting flats, so I had my big pump strapped on my rear rack. Unfortunately, this made it a pain to get to my water and food. So I was gradually running behind on water, calories, and electrolytes. My fault completely, and a rookie mistake.
By the time I covered the ~9 miles to Wolfe City I felt pretty beat, and was starting to get a cramp-twinge in my right quad when I would put my right foot on the ground. In Wolfe City I drank a lot of water. I should have hit the electrolytes hard too, but didn't. I had a little food, too. I saw El Arbol, and wished I had time to eat there, but time was ticking, and it was becoming apparent that my progress was much slower than I would have hoped.
I set out from Wolfe City for Celeste, doing math over and over in my head to see if I could make it work out such that I was not riding in the dark on the way back. But, no matter how much I tried, it was obvious that I was going to have to ride part of the way home in the dark unless I cut my trip short. I considered it, but decided that shortening the distance was unacceptable. So I kept pedaling my way toward Celeste. Random thought: It must be a lot harder to throw away a TV than I thought, because that is the most popular item found discarded along the trail.
I finally made it to Celeste around 4:20. Anyone wondering what kind of trail surface to use should definitely park at the Exxon in Celeste, and head northwest. I had no idea that cracks in a path surface could even look like that. If you do decide to walk out that way, let us know, and if you aren’t back by dark, we will come looking for you. I got a 7up at the store, sat down to drink it, and pondered how in the world to get back home to the Ladonia Lodge. My GPS has all the little back roads loaded on it, so I used it to put together a path toward Wolfe City that was off the main roads, but still relatively direct. At 4:30, I headed back to the northwest, hoping to make good time. I met a few groups of dogs on the way back, but they were all friendly or understood the boundaries of their yards very well, so nobody got pepper-sprayed. I eventually made it to Wolfe City. A couple of kids were excited to see a person riding a mountain bike, and one of them directed me to the Quick Chek. On the way to the Quick Chek I went by the middle school, timeless and imposing in its classic dark red brick. It appears that Wolfe City must have been quite a bit bigger at some point. Anyway, at Quick Chek I bought some water, mixed myself a stiff electrolyte drink, and finished it off right on the steps of the store. No time to rest, though, because at this point the question was not whether I would be riding in the dark, but how far I would be riding in the dark.
The wind really picked up out of the north. For a while I wasn’t sure if I was getting chills because I had been pedaling for so long, or if it was actually getting colder. Eventually I put on a jacket and felt a lot better. The sugar and electrolytes I pounded at the Quick Chek seemed to be improving my function and attitude. Just north of Wolfe City, I looked for a road that was supposed to cut fairly directly from Hwy 34 over to Ladonia, but couldn’t find it. I decided to stay on 34, figuring that if I totally bonked, I was more likely to get help on 34 than out in the sticks somewhere anyway. I don’t like riding on roads, but I knew that 34 doesn’t really see that much traffic anyway.
I soldiered on, with the combination of headwinds, hills, and general exhaustion requiring me to use my lowest gears pretty often. I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled and pedaled some more. Eventually around 7:45pm (although it seemed much later) I rolled into Ladonia, where I made myself some dinner and fell into my hammock, where I dreamt of, well, where I dreamt of absolutely nothing as my body and mind recovered from 8 long hours on the bike.
I was supposed to ride even farther the next day, Saturday, but a combination of factors compelled me to take it easy.
-My body was thrashed
-With the trail being as overgrown as it was even in unfenced areas where vehicles had obviously been driving through, I can’t imagine what it’s like in places that are fenced off.
-The idea of riding 60 miles AND lifting my bike over several fences was not appealing.
-As you ride, you are constantly in contact with some kind of vegetation. Even just 5 minutes of rain would wet the vegetation, and you would get soaked to the bone as you rode through.
-I figured out that I really like to have someone else along on a sufferfest like this.
That’s all I have! I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.
If you and some friends would like to try out this ride, go for it. I’d recommend doing it just one way. Starting in Celeste, having lunch in Wolfe City, and finishing up in Ladonia would be a strong day for most people. Once you get to Ladonia, have some friends come meet you at Ladonia Lodge(972-979-7482), and camp in the yard or rent a room. Have some dinner at Gloria’s Kitchen, and toast marshmallows out in the yard at the lodge. Disclaimer: There are lots of ways to get seriously hurt or killed out there. Do not undertake a trip unless you know what you would do if some serious stuff went down. Don’t ride by yourself. Be aware of the edges of the trail and bridges at all times. Don’t zone out and get run over at a road crossing. I think you need to have a mountain bike so that your tires are wide enough to absorb impacts with some of the stuff you will roll over, and to get a little flotation on the gravel. Have a friend on standby who can come extract you if something goes wrong, which also requires having a good enough map/GPS to direct them where to go.
I have really enjoyed reading this description of the Chaparral Rail Trail. Last December I retired, after forty-five years in law enforcement, and the last seventeen years I was employed by Constable Joe Barton, who is the president of Chaparral Rail Trail, Inc. I have known about the trails progress from the beginning of the project. I do not ride bicycles but that is about to change. Santa is bringing me a Specialized Expedition Sport and I am hoping that by the fall I will be in shape to tackle some of the easier portions of this trail (I am in terrible shape, seventy years old and seventy pounds over weight). I was surprised at the amount of support my wife offered me when I told her I wanted a bicycle for Christmas. She really has encouraged me, partly because some of my numbers (BP, cholesterol, A1C, etc.) are becoming seriously skewed and for some reason she wants me to stick around for a while. So December 26 I guess I will become a bicycle rider.
When you rode out of Farmersville, on the paved portion of the trail, were there some bulges/buckling of the pavement? I was just talking to a deputy constable who has ridden it a few times (just the paved portion) and he was telling me about the buckling and that he thought it had been repaired. Should you need any up-to-date information on the trail I can call my former boss for the latest or can give you his office number.
The bad pavement I am aware of is not at the Farmersville end, but rather the asphalt paved sections near Celeste. Of course, everyhting is subject to change. Asphalt can't handle the expansion and contraction of the soil. Good cement probaly can, but it's expensive. So, I think gravel is the optimal surface. Thanks for the offer on trail condition reports!
The Spinistry are putting on some lovely gravel-grinder rides in the spirit of The Dirty Kanzaa - you might check in wit them.