Sheila T. writes in with an update…
“Texas boasts only one IMBA Epic Ride, out at the Big Bend Ranch State Park. My buddy, the other Sheila, and I tackled it on Feb.13th during our annual West Texas pilgrimage for the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest. The week had been especially warm so we rolled early hoping to beat some of the heat. Bonus was enjoying a desert sunrise from the saddle and those brilliant rosy vistas you only see during the “golden” hour.
The rising sun brings a starker light and warmer temperatures. We stash the cameras and settle in for some long and dusty miles. After grinding our way up to Papalote Encino we enjoy the super fun single track leading to the halfway point at Sauceda. We try not to linger at the Ranger Station even though they have cold soda. And flush toilets. (It’s a girl thing.)
Departing the oasis of the station, we encounter sandy stretches and rugged rollers on our way up to Madrid Falls Road. It is a steep and rocky bastard which looms for miles on a southbound approach. I’m sure there are some who can ride that final pitch, but it is way too loose for me today. Maybe different tires next time. Or stronger legs. We take a moment to soak in the view and soon are riding again, topping out at Pila de los Muchachos.
The route back to Fresno Canyon features miles of coasting and sweet single track interrupted by the occaisionalsketchy descent. I ride more and dab less than previous years. (It’s the little things.) Though it’s a net elevation loss from Muchachos to the finish, there are still plenty of arroyos filled with energy-sapping sand to traverse. We reach Whitroy Mine and weigh our options for the home stretch. We choose Rock Quarry and Dog Cholla but skip Crystal Trail, which is much less fun going this direction. Besides, I am smelling the barn and daydreaming of the brownies that will be my reward.
Even spent from a full day of knobby playtime I am saddened to reach the end of the trail. Until next year, I will miss the peace I find in this beautifully desolate place.”