Wednesday, 25 April, 2001

Mountain Biking on the Greenbelt

I broke out the mountain bike today to take a ride with a co worker on the Barton Creek Greenbelt.  It's a 15 minute ride from the office to the trail head.  The trail itself follows Barton Creek for about 7 miles from Zilker Park upstream to the bottom of a very large hill, the top of which is in a subdivision that's about a 15 minute ride from the office.  Conveniently located, that office where I work.

The Greenbelt is an enjoyable ride, but not very difficult.  The terrain is mostly flat, and there aren't too many places with rocks or roots to make things technical.  The biggest hazard is the many hikers, runners, and people out strolling with their families, including unleashed dogs.  Most of the trail is forested, and there are many squirrels and other wildlife--especially at night.  It was a perfect day for a ride, except for one thing.  There's water in Barton Creek.  And not just a little bit.  There were four places today where I had to pick up the bike and wade through waist-deep water.  Of course I'll be wishing for water in a couple of months, when the creek dries out and it's over 100 degrees outside.

I said that the terrain is mostly flat.  The hill at the end of the trail is called "The Hill of Life."  I'm not sure why it's called that.  I think "Life Sucker Hill" or "The Hill of Death" would be more appropriate.  The hill is something like 1/2 mile long and over 300 feet high.  It's as wide as a 2-lane road, but very rocky with washouts and erosion barriers that make riding up it something of a technical challenge.  This hill would be difficult enough if it was paved, but the technical work combined with the steep grade makes it nearly impossible to climb without stopping at least once; either because you miss a step or because you're sucking wind.  The descent sure is fun, although you have to be careful in some areas.

I really must get a cheap digital camera to carry around.  I'm not about to take the Digital ELPH through the creek, but I'd love to get some pictures before everything dries up.