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Camp Verde, TX
We awake at 6:30am to head for coffee at the Hill Country Cafe, a Texas legend according to the sign in the window. The waitress is short, blond and her skin is oddly orange. Like the cafe, she is clearly a legend herself, an institution. She loves us. She calls coffee ‘java’ and fills our cups with alacrity. Our ride host, Louie, orders two eggs over-easy with hash browns and a short stack. Pete gets scrambled eggs, a sausage biscuit and blueberry pancakes. We each order the equivalent of 2-3 meals, but nothing is wasted, what goes uneaten is packed up in foil and napkin just in case.
We’re on our bikes at 9:30. It’s maybe seventy degrees with low, gray clouds imperceptibly drizzling for spells. This ride is about Texas Hill Country, but hill country in a predominately flat, mountainless state doesn’t sound threatening. The ride starts out easy enough with miles of gentle rollers on narrow rural roads. We seldom see cars but the roads are rough with chip-seal.
Twenty miles in we hit a six-mile section of dirt road. It’s hard-packed dirt is covered with loose sand and rocks so we speed-up and push into it.
Seventy-six miles in three things happen; the sun breaks through the clouds, the temperature instantly rises to 90?, and the humidity jumps palpably.
At mile 77 the climbing starts in earnest, the ‘hill’ part of ‘hill country’. Massive scrubby but gorgeous rolling hills covered in trees and laced with creeks, peel off in every direction. Here we hit the ride’s name sake ‘Ranch Road 337’.
We climb three distinct, progressively difficult sections of 337. We see countless ranches, chickens, buffalo, cows, horses, vultures and creeks. It’s hot and hard work, and it’s beautiful.
126.5 miles from our start, with Ryan nearly cracked and Greg falling apart, we finish in the historical town of Camp Verde—spent, satisfied and ready to soak in the cool, shaded river just ten feet from our van.
- Last week was a great one for Rapha Condor JLT, all the action and images now up on the team site: http://t.co/ftBejPnnCJ
- RT @alainrumpf: Well done @mike_cuming and @raphacondorjlt winner of #TdK2013 under the scrutiny of latest drone… http://t.co/gv81uP9mHP
- In their attempt to cross the US in 24 days, @michaeltabtabai & Andrew Hudon will ‘Leave It On The Road’. → http://t.co/Per6QsCAtt
- We are delighted to announce the opening of a one-month, pop-up @RaphaCycleClub in Tokyo this summer from 22/6–21/7 → http://t.co/Jrc0EKZ9ky
- Huge congratulations to @raphacondorjlt’s @mike_cuming for winning the @TourdeKorea2013 and to @tomsoutham for best DS. #TdK2013
- @danfromnam in Corsica — outtake from our 2013 Spring/Summer shoot #corsica #beningstagram http://t.co/03A7pT9mtj
- Winner Winner Chicken Dinner ! The most important jersey of #TdK2013 hot off the press. http://t.co/Pflx0eUfdv”
- What a day... The boys keep Mike Cuming in yellow, after having to chase all day. Great performance by all.
- Just rehearsing the whole of Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday to recite to the boys...
- UK: Thanks to all who came to to tonight’s Rapha Étape Evening in London with @CyclefitUK — one of our biggest turnouts yet.
“The second most brutal ride of my life. What a way to start the tour." – Cole Maness
“The hardest Rapha Continental Ride I’ve ever done, at least in regards to the way I felt." – Greg Johnson