Sunday, January 1, 2012

Caprock Canyon Trail - The Trail of Flats, part 2

(Read Part 1 of the adventure)

Dan moving on down the trail
Somehow, we managed to get in to the campsite just before sunset.  What should have been an easy ride of 12 miles had taken us all afternoon and in to the evening due to all the unplanned repairs.  We were camping by the Clarity tunnel, which was previously the last operating railroad tunnel in Texas.  Now, it's just a long dark cave that's home to thousands of bats.  Or, it is during the summer, anyway.  We walked the length of the tunnel hoping to see the bats and watch them fly out majestically at dusk, but it turns out that they had already migrated south to Mexico so all we found was a 742 foot long pile of guano.

Jason was incredulous.  "You mean we drove all day then rode bikes all afternoon to just to camp near a tunnel full of bat shit?!"  Yes, yes we did.  And storms were looming on the horizon.

Inside the Clarity Tunnel.  The deeper you go in, the deeper the guano is piled.

Thankfully there was a water tank at the camp site and we were able to refill our bottles, wipe the salt and sweat and dirt from our faces, and get camp set up before the storms blew in later that night.

Water tank, mercifully filled by the State Park

Unloading bikes at the campsite.  The tires are still picking up thorns.

The storms blew in during the darkest hours of the night and pelted our tents with rain and the wind blew so hard that the tents were touching our foreheads as the thunder roared and the lightning flashed.  We awoke to gray skies, drizzling rain, cold wind, and more flat tires.  As usual, Dan was up first and had the all essential coffee boiling as we broke camp and aired up the tires once again.

Jason looking good with a boomerang.  The trail is pea gravel near the tunnel.  If only the whole trail was like that.
The ride back was fairly uneventful except for more flat tires.  I eventually gave up on patching them for the last 4 or 5 miles and just rode on, cranking out each turn of the pedals with both bike tires completely flat and the trailer tire slowly giving up the ghost.  It was slow going and Dad and I lagged behind Jason and Dan.  We all eventually made it back to the cabin and were thankful to have a warm, dry place to sleep that night.

This is what Caprock Canyon Trail will do to your bike
All told we rode maybe 30 miles total.  4 bikes and a trailer works out to 9 tires and we had no less than 14 flats between us.  When I got back home, I was able to patch one of the inner tubes one last time but by that point had gone through an entire patch kit.  Another tube had no less than three(!) more holes in it.  My mini-pump also kicked the bucket during the ride.  It had served faithfully for years but the rigor and constant use on the Caprock Canyon trail was more than the internal seals could endure.

While at the cabin, we had a good time cooking dinner, feeding carrots to the horse that was stabled there, and watching the sun go down.  Nearly every minute of the journey had been arduous, but not one of us would have traded it for an easier trip.

We rode through the desert to feed a horse with no name

A stormy day can produce a spectacular sunset.  This made it all worth it.

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