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Ridenfool

Rocky HIll Ranch Trail Conditions

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Took a spin out there on Labor Day. I hadn't been on those trials since Spring. Over the years there have been changes going on, some good, some bad, some could as easily be judged either way.

Overall, the conditions were great. At the end of the Summer bake everything was dry and felt good under tire. The fact that temps equated to air-conditioned riding was nice as well.  I rode out to Omar's and bailed. got in 14 or so miles and it felt good. Mostly.

Riding out there these days as just another trail user, after having invested heavily working on those trails, has left me with a perspective bearing a distinct bias about how I think things should be. That isn't my place in the picture there and dealing with my choice sometimes confounds me.

Over the past few years I've seen many of the challenging creek-crossing sections on Off the Lip, Longhorn Loop and TrisCross have been bypassed. Still I find myself preparing for a grunt tech section and then realize it just isn't there any more. Some of these had good reason to be bypassed as erosion had taken its toll, others offer enough value to the trail that, to me, they could have been used. Cutting a smooth line through the woods to avoid them was only a form of sanitizing and wasn't very creative. Still, I am grateful that someone is out there doing work. Granted, a few of the sections still offer the choice of taking the old or the new path, but I don't find this sort of design intuitive, particularly if there is no signage to let a rider know that both go to the same place. Events carve the route those riders used into what appears to be "THE" trail.

On the other hand, these new sections flow very well and that can be good. Admittedly, I found myself following these new sections on my ride as a few attempts on one or two of the old lines revealed they are overgrown.

Then, there's the gravel mining that continues to threaten RHR trails. Those cat-skinner operators tend to not look at where the trails are and either cut right up to the edge, taking away that "riding through the woods" feeling and turning it into "riding through a recently leveled parking lot" feeling. Or, they just cut right through the trail and it is interrupted or eliminated. There were a pile of tall pines pushed from a gravel operation that have fallen across a section of Longhorn Loop just after the 9-mile bailout.

There is still a lot of fun trail out there, but having ridden there for a couple of decades and put heart and soul into those trails for about ten years of that, I find myself saddened over the losses time brings.

The magical place that once sported a Saloon, the Rocky Burger, live music, trails, no fucking bulldozers, with a community from all walks of life that congregated at RHR is but a fond memory of a perfect riding spot and a fun place to just hang out, drink a cold one, and watch a sunset.

Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be.

Come get some RHR while the getting is still good.

Edited by Ridenfool
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Didn't mean to be a Debbie Downer as the trails are still as fine as frog hair overall. There are more miles of trail at RHR than ever before. 

You just have to bring your own eats and drinks while practicing forgiveness on the gravel mining ops and avoid going all Edward Abbey on them. 

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I haven't been out there in a while, as I had a pretty poor experience on my last ride.  The trails in the back portion of the park were in sad shape, various trees down and the trails were in poor condition.  It thoroughly discouraged me from going back.  My last Strava recording from RHR seems to be in August 2015, and I managed 19.5 miles.  I thought I'd ridden it more recently (within the last year), but that may not be the case.  Kind of curious how it looks now.   This used to be one of my favorite trails.  

 ..Al

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After riding the trails at Warda (BCR), with three foot wide corridors trimmed back, I realize just how badly RHR needs a haircut. Face slappers, tall grass, and other growth obscure the lines. Having all the trails permanently etched in my brain makes it easy for me to overlook how not knowing the trail and riding there might be problematic for riders.

I've got a warranty replacement pair of Fiskar's 15" Loppers on the way and will take them along on the next ride and do a little trimming. In the past the owner has been gracious about letting folks ride a day for free in exchange for putting in an hour or so of trimming. Taking several ten or fifteen minute "trim breaks" during a 15 mile ride is pretty easy to fit in. 

Please call the Hills to arrange this for those willing to do so. Contact info at www.rockyhillranch.com

When trimming, always cut at the point where the branch leaves the tree, or, flush with the ground, to avoid leaving Punji Sticks that could perforate fellow riders.

 

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It'd be fun to go out there with a group of people all armed with loppers and folding saws, and make a complete circuit of the trail to trim stuff back.  Again, I haven't been out there in a while, so I have no idea what it looks like right now.  You are motivating me to go out to Warda, though!  When (if) all the rain stops and we're able to ride trails again...

 ..Al

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There have been occasions where a group of volunteers planned a workday and Grey Hill made barbeque and had cold beer and other refreshments waiting for us when we were done.

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Based upon experience Rocky Hill should be dry with the possibility of a few puddles.

It dries quickly in all but a few places, and with no rain for several days the surface ought to be in fine shape for the weekend.

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Why not?

Went for a short ride today, rode out to the 6-mile bail, picked up Leaping Lizards and on the way back looked forlornly at what used to be Y-Knot.

This is a trail I built, twice (long story), as an alternative to riding the fenceline. It never seemed to catch on and not enough traffic means it grew over without bikes to keep the tread established. I had some time, so flipped a U on fenceline and took off to see what was left of it. There was enough of it left to follow in most places, but in others I'd have to stop and look around for ribbons, reflectors, or other markers. There I was picking my way through, embracing visions of bringing a rake and some tools for trimming in order to reclaim it.

I got to another of those spots where I couldn't find where it went, and I wandered this way, then that way, knowing I would find another clue. As I stopped to look around I put a foot down, sitting calmly looking through the woods for evidence of the old trail. What's that? Ouch! Did I lean into a cactus thorn? Pick up a Fire Ant?

DefCon.thumb.jpg.0b81cfcf8e8a5a3cb13399a8099f1c3d.jpg

OH FUCK NO, nothing that benign, I had stopped my bike on top of a fucking SUBTERRANEAN YELLOW JACKET MISSILE BASE, and they had gone to DefCon 1.

I hurriedly abandoned the bike and trotted off, then rolled on the ground thirty or so feet away trying to lose them. The little bastards hit me hard. Between fifteen and twenty confirmed hits to my legs and a couple to an arm. It hurt. Badly. Some were still stuck to several places attempting repeated strikes, as their weapons deployment system allows for that ability.

Looking back I see how they are holding my bike hostage, as its rear tire was still sitting just beside the entrance to their secret lair. They were trying to sting the tire, the pedal, the frame, and taunting me to come back and join their fun. Boy were they pissed. Clearly, they don't entertain often as their manners regarding guests were deplorable.

Creeping slowly and carefully toward the bike. Watching the enemy movements, waiting for them to head back in for iced tea, or to reload their stingers, or whatever they do once the threat has passed. After five minutes or so I felt things were at an acceptable level of risk and I inched closer. All the while asking myself if it might be worth it to just let them have the bike in order to avoid further attack. No, I've got to get the bike, but must sneak in, slowly, slowly, then grab the handlebar and try to avoid hanging the seat on the tree it had fallen into and in a fluid motion move away briskly to a reasonably safe distance before turning to look and see if they were headed my way again. Somehow I managed to evade further injury, but they had walloped me pretty good already.

The trail archeology expedition was abandoned, and I pushed the bike through the woods toward a road or pipeline ROW I could use to get out. Once this was accomplished, I wandered over to the fenceline trail I had left earlier and headed on back to he parking lot via Black Trac. Which I had planned on riding as I hadn't been on that trail in a few years. It had been much improved and sported several re-routes to avoid some fall-line trail sections that were problems in the past. That really ugly climb out to the road was no longer part of the trail and I won't miss it much. I limped on back to the van without further drama.

After loading up, I administered a Ruby Redbird, for medicinal purposes, then headed home.  Once there, I got a shower and attempted to become as relaxed as I could while suffering the aftermath of the onslaught I had endured. At this time, relaxed, safe in the confines of my home, the pain seemed to ramp up, ... to eleven. Maybe twelve. The effects of the chemical agents employed by those vicious winged devil-creatures was so severe that I was twitching and groaning in spasms as the waves of searing pain wafted through my nervous system. This got the Mrs. a little worried. Even the air conditioning blowing on my legs was incredibly painful.

Here I am now writing about this thirteen hours after the event and the stings still hurt like hellfire itself has been poured onto my legs, though the level of pain has subsided from wildly excruciating to, maybe, "fresh honey bee swarm stings" at this point. I don't expect to sleep very well.

At least I have an answer to "Why not" as it seems that nature provided a good reason for me to have just pedaled on past it and up the fenceline instead of looking into reviving this fading trail.

BTW, the trail surfaces at RHR were in great shape a few days after the rains.

Update: 21 hours later and the stings are at the point of feeling like day-old fire ant bites. Next comes the itching.

 

Edited by Ridenfool
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3 minutes ago, throet said:

Wow that is some scary stuff man! Glad you survived and hope you are feeling better today. 

Recovery is progressing nicely and I'm headed into Austin at noon for administration of additional therapies. Kicking off an upcoming IT convention in town with a Hewlett-Packard sponsored meet-up at Eastciders Collaboratory this afternoon. Drink, food, swag, and nerdy fellowship should do the trick to get me in shape for the next three days at the convention center for Spiceworld 11.

This post is only vaguely related to trail conditions at RHR, but relevant just the same as I will be driving past RHR on the way.

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I'm heading out to RHR today since it looks like it got no rain.  I'm going to take some Benadryl with me.  Glad you're recovering.  Scary stuff.

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Wow, that's crazy, hope you recover quickly from all the stings!  Sorry that the bees cut your ride short, thanks for writing that up.  I haven't been out to Rocky Hill in a while.  Last time I was out I was pretty discouraged when riding the back half of the trails.  It was a bit of a mess, lots of downed trees and areas that needed trimming, and the trail itself was in poor shape.  Need to get out there again, although I think I'll skip Y-Knot!  

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To be clear, this wasn't ON the trail, in fact I couldn't even find the trail at that point. Doubtful that anyone else will ever have to deal with this particular group of critters' attitude.

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2 hours ago, Ridenfool said:

To be clear, this wasn't ON the trail, in fact I couldn't even find the trail at that point. Doubtful that anyone else will ever have to deal with this particular group of critters' attitude.

Good to know it wasn't on the trail!!

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Oh, Mike, I have felt your pain, but not at DEFCON 1.   I was complaining of the lasting pain of 2 wasp stings, and I simply cannot imagine the agony of 13!  So glad you were able to ride out of there on your own without having a big collapse.  

 

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Well, ... it wasn't really bad until I got home.  Or, it was bad and I was ignoring it until I got home. 

Because I have always done all my own stunts I have gained a wealth of experience over the years in pain management. :classic_blush:

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20 hours ago, AntonioGG said:

I'm heading out to RHR today since it looks like it got no rain. 

Did you manage to stay dry? 

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I never made it.  I was watching a small cell move closer and closer to RHR and decided against investing in the 2hr round trip.  I opted for servicing my fork instead.   I may take the day off today and go ride.

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24 minutes ago, AntonioGG said:

I may take the day off today and go ride.

What's going to be rideable today? I was just planning to watch baseball thinking nothing would be rideable. 

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RHR got 0.16" of rain yesterday, but the weather station I've been watching has been down for 8 hours, so I don't know if they got more rain and I'm not willing to drive that far to find out.  I think Walnut is probably good to go based on the closest weather station.  I think that's what I'll be doing today.

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25 minutes ago, AntonioGG said:

The forecast looks awful though.  Rain all weekend through Tuesday, then again on Saturday.

I'm just trying to figure out what will be rideable today or tomorrow. Seems that's been the approach for the past month - just sneak in as many rides as you can with every window of opportunity. 

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I've been in Austin this week and got home last night. So, no first hand account. Things look good based upon looking at the yard (a few miles from RHR).

I say go for it, and watch radar and nearby weather stations for detail should anything pass by between now and when you head that way.

Forecast currently looks good through Saturday with just shy of an inch of precip expected in the wee hours Sunday morn.

 

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