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Ridenfool

Rocky HIll Ranch Trail Conditions

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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. 
I've been having to go to either flat rock, canyon lake, or San Marcos to get my daily ride in and I hate driving but not many other options for the moment.

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Based upon the gopher mound test in my yard I'm going to give RHR a try on Sunday.

Today the mounds were still saturated with water, but a few were getting a dry crust on their peak. Once they are crusty down to ground level, and the ground isn't moist (yep, wrote moist) I'll go for a ride.

Mostly waiting because I'm lazy and don't want to have to clean the bike any more than absolutely necessary.

FWIW There was a car with an empty bike rack in the parking lot, spotted on my way home from work on Friday, so someone was giving it a shot.

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I ignored the results of the gopher mound tests and went out today in hopes it had been long enough to dry somewhat. It wasn't. Had so much accumulation of mud, leaves, rocks and pine needles that my front wheel was stopped before I made it to Water 1. The chain wouldn't stay on the NW ring, I turned around and headed for the water hose to get it off the bike before it became concrete.

Edited by Ridenfool
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The trails were great today, and if we only get the two tenths of an inch Darksky is forecasting then Sunday ought to be good, if not Saturday afternoon.

The soupy spots I found that were holding water were on Karaway, after the pipeline ROW, on Frontal Lobotomy pretty early on, and on Longhorn loop one early and another short spot on the latest ARR reroute (which on the whole this new section has improved flow on LL tremendously). None of these were bad and in most cases tended to clean the tires rather than accumulate.

The creek crossing I rode had water, but nothing significant. I bailed at the end of Longhorn, didn't ride Leaping Lizards or Black Trac. both of which may have some spots to watch for,

If Austin area trails get hit harder with rain tonight and RHR doesn't, it might be a viable option to keep in mind.

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The Weather.gov accumulation data indicates between .01 and .1 inch at RHR so far. The front line is now East of here. Forecast now calls for less than another tenth of an inch after midnight.

Lookin' pretty good.

Pace Bend got about the same. It appears that Austin got none.

Edited by Ridenfool
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Doing the gopher mound test in the yard this morning (I'm about 8 miles from RHR) I think it will be good tomorrow, if not this afternoon. The wind is blowing and that will help evaporate things.

Walking across the dirt in the yard it is moist, but isn't sticking to the soles of my shoes. I'll report further later today if that will help. Won't be riding today due to other plans, so no on site report.

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This gauge says 1/2" at Scorpion Hill (the closest weather station now since the old one stopped reporting).

https://www.wunderground.com/personal-weather-station/dashboard?ID=KTXSMITH14#history/s20190111/e20190111/mdaily

Do you think it will be good to go tomorrow?  At this point based on the closest weather stations, it looks like Walnut Creek got less rain (0.35") than Rocky Hill Ranch (0.51")

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FWIW, there were about twenty or thirty cars out at RHR when I drove by minutes ago ... and, a line at the bike wash station.

So, it seems the weather.gov/precip site is under-reporting rain accumulation significantly. The .5" reported by Antonio is probably the number to consider.

I'm going to wait until mid week at the earliest before venturing out there and take time to get more done around the house while the water finds its way elsewhere.

One of these days I'll put a rain gauge in the yard ...

Edited by Ridenfool
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Went out there with the best of intentions, and we all know where the road paved with good intentions leads, right? Good, we're on the same page.

At this moment I'm back at home recovering. Both my smart watch and bike computer agree that I rode 1.68 miles (they rarely agree). The watch also shares how I accumulated over 5400 steps, 73% of which were "Active" and 3% were "Intensive" which may help explain why I feel like I need intensive care about now.

Now, for the good intentions part. I brought the Fiskars 15" loppers along. This is a nasty habit of mine that seems to have fully infected my blood, a habit I can't seem to kick, a monkey perched precariously upon my back and gleefully laughing while holding on to the end of small bow saw tucked in my pack. It has been a while since I had my last fix. I guess I was Jonesin' and must confess how I didn't go into this relapse all reserved and timid. I mainlined it. And no, the 5400 step program had little effect, other than leading to my being WFO (Wore Fuckin' Out).

There is a section of trail I had built years ago that cut out a section of Grey's Way (by request of the land owner) that went up Ike's Peak. Ike's replacement added quite a bit of new, challenging trail to Grey's Way. It appeared to have not had a trim since I originally hacked it out of the hill where it parallels Fat Chuck's Demise. I have noticed how it seemed to be seeing less and less traffic as folks probably glanced at the growth on this trail that goes straight, at a point where riders can take a bailout to the right onto Fat Chuck's instead.

Today it got hacked back enough to last at least another five years, hopefully. Sight lines have improved and trail lines are available again that the growth had blocked. I hope that folks find it inviting and enjoy this rather grueling section of trail more often.

Next, I wanted to trim another of my creations, Super Secret Switchback, as it has become very narrow at the top just before crossing the jeep road. As I meandered in that general direction I was reminded of a bypass put in for a recent race in the wet in order to avoid the nasty clay section in the first switchback to the right going up. The work was clearly done in haste to make the race route passable. It may have been used since for other events, and if this continues the bypass could turn into a drainage that would eventually erode away if folks continued to use it in the wet.

I appreciate what a mess that clay section can be and I've had misgivings over originally routing the trail there just to gain a little more length. SSS trail has become a favorite route up for a lot of riders, and this one section makes it a real pain to ride when it is wet. But this bypass, though workable now, may not be a permanent solution and I had been scouting for a fix for a while and found a spot between the makeshift bypass and that clay turn that I think will let riders carry more speed both going up and especially coming down (once it forms a berm). It will drain well and meets the 50% rule of trail building. For now I've left the original trail open, and hope to see folks start using this new section. If it catches on I'd like to close the clay section and make this a done deal.

However, I didn't have all the tools I'd usually use to build new trail. Particularly missing was a rake to remove ground cover, so I crafted a makeshift rake from a Cedar branch and got 'er done. This last effort had eclipsed the event horizon of my good intentions for the day as I spiraled into the black hole of fatigue. The legs were done, I was toast, and, embarrassingly, I never made it to that last section of SSS that needed a trim. Knowing this will be a fairly big job, I put it off for today, but will try to knock it out next time I'm out there. UPDATE: The clay section will be permanently retired. If you like collecting sticky clay while riding in the wet get it now, before I hide it forever.

I'll probably be carrying the loppers on more rides at RHR from here on. Over the years my method was always to spend fifteen or thirty minutes trimming on any given ride.  By concentrating on being thorough rather than quick, by cutting most of the Yaupon at ground level and trimming back bigger stuff, the efforts can last a few years. Doing this work with a plan will eventually open things up and the face slappers will be out of business. Just wish that more riders at RHR shared such an approach to mixing in a little trail maintenance with their ride. Despite paying a fee to ride, the fact is that most maintenance work done out there is by volunteer labor.

As far as trail conditions go, it was a little wet, but no significant accumulation, only slick rocks and roots. Keep in mind I only rode about 3/4 of a mile in from the Upper Campground, and then a little less back out as I took the road from The Wall down.

Edited by Ridenfool
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The trails were in great shape today, except for the over-crowding problem at times as the TMBRA season opener was in progress. I "rode" the trails as a safety and sort of a sweep. Only had to help one rider who managed to break his Maxle axle on his Niner. Got it patched up so he didn't have to walk all the way back.

The rest of my many hours out there were occupied, as again, I had made the mistake of bringing the loppers along for some fresh air. Lots of Karaway got a good trim. At least till I was pretty sure the last of the racers were past and I rode the race route back.

Great weather, large crowd, and tons of fun to be had.

Paul Uhl has done a lot of work out there putting ladders over wet spots, rerouting sections where the bulldozers have encroached, and other improvements. On Friday I shored up the Carpet Bridge as its supports had been patched here and there and those braces were being pushed into the mud, tilting one side of the bridge and making bits stick up in the middle. It was looking pretty sketchy and is back to its former glory now, with pavers under some new vertical supports. There is still plenty of Youpon to keep my loppers happy for a while though.

Y'all come get some, you know you want it.

Edited by Ridenfool
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Finally got around to clearing that last 40 feet or so of the Super Secret Switchback trail. Two hours later... I went on to finish a short ride.

Paul says the flowers in the back meadow past Omar's are in bloom and photo-worthy.

Conditions are dry but not dusty, yet.

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Did two laps out at Rocky Hill this morning and was really impressed with the trails. It is fun XC type stuff and we didn’t run into any down trees or issues with the trails.

I hadn’t been out there in probably 5 years but it’s a great place to meet friends from Houston and get your pedal on. Saw the FR512 stuff and it looked awesome as well.


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That's great to hear, thanks for the report.  Last time I went out there a year or two ago it was a mess and I wasn't encouraged to go back, even though it used to be one of my favorite Central Texas trails.  I'll need to get back out again soon and check it out. 

 ..Al

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Paul sent a pic of work being done. The Carpet Bridge is getting a makeover, courtesy of the efforts by a High School MTB team.

Edit: and the generosity of RHR's owners for materials.

CarpetBridge.thumb.jpg.b42cc83477a57bc62ba4f54e15293215.jpg

Looks very stout. Can't wait to check it out on the next ride out there.

Edited by Ridenfool
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