Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chaparral Trail

The morning after my aborted attempt I decided to try a route from Plano out to Farmersville.  I started near Collin Creek Mall at about 4:30 in the morning.  This time I borrowed Jon's powerful headlight that straps to your helmet.  It was a good thing to, it kept me upright at least once.  On the Chisholm Trail a section floods during storms and gets coated with a thick layer of mud - something I would have missed with out a strong headlight.  Luckily I caught sight of it just before and was able to maintain my track without a spill.  It would have been a mess for sure, 2 inches of Texas clay silt.

A short while after getting into Lucas I started looking for the sun to rise in front of me... but I realized dawn was coming up to my left, which made no sense since my route was due east.  A quick check of the GPS showed me  coming into Murphy, about 6 miles south of where I wanted to be.  The road in Lucas curved south, I should have made a left on to stay on Lucas Rd., a fact that isn't apparent unless you zoom in on the intersection.  I turned back around and made it to Lake Lavon just in time for the actual sunrise.

Sunrise, Lake Lavon at Lucas Rd.
The route to Farmersville took me on a section of 380, which is unfortunate for a couple of reasons.  First, highways tend to be hillier with long loping rises.  Second, traffic in general is less forgiving.  Thankfully, the shoulder was pretty clean and smooth, not a lot of debris and road trash.  Nails and glass are always the biggest concern.  

The first few miles of the Chaparral Trail are paved, which was very nice.  It does, however, come to an abrupt end, turning to crushed gravel.  The sites I read before hand described it as crushed stone, which I equated to the crushed limestone similar to the Lake Mineral Wells and Trinity trailways.  It's actually more jeep trail with some construction grade crushed stone and a mix of whatever the bulldozer churned up.  After about 3 miles of that I turned back on the outskirts of Merit.  The skinny tires on the cross bike give me a little better traction than a road bike, but no cushion, so it was a fun yet exhausting part of the trip.  I was a good thing I took the wrong turn in Lucas since I was cutting the trail portion short.  

The trail itself was pleasant.  Very good tree cover, lots of shade, some interesting architecture in a few old bridges.  Absolutely a mountain bike trail though.  Something to try again at a later date.

Coming back in the daylight brought much heavier traffic.  It also let me see the rolling hills I rode on the way out.  Funny that seeing them makes it much worse.  Cranking up them in the dark you can't see the very far ahead, in the daylight you can watch that hill stretch on forever into the horizon.  Defeats you before it's even started.

The end brought breakfast at Poor Richards.  Three eggs, 2 orders of hash, chicken fried chicken, and biscuits and gravy.  A good end to a good ride.

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