Gravel Cycling in Chappell Hill and Areas South

This past weekend, I met some friends to ride some of the gravel roads south of the town of Chappell Hill, Texas. There were seven of us including my friend Kevin who just recently purchased his first gravel bike and was excited to try it out on these roads. We followed a 52 mile route that we’ve done many times that resulted in almost 2,900 feet of elevation gained. The route leads us to the Lindemann Store in the small town of Industry. It’s one of the few stores in Industry where we can to buy food and water for the return trip to Chappell Hill. The only other place to stop on the route is in Kenney but that’s to close to Chappell Hill. Industry is located at the halfway point of the route so it’s the perfect place to stop.

I took this photo early in ride, soon after leaving Chappell Hill. We’re still feeling fresh and are organized in two pacelines and preparing to turn left at the intersection ahead.

We arrived in Industry after about 1h40min of riding and I had only consumed part of one 21 ounce water bottle which contained my homemade hydration mix. We each bought different things but I got a bottle of spicy V8 and a bottle of water. I finished what was left in my bottle and drank the V8. Then, I filled the empty bottle with water and ice. The remaining water, I drank and poured what remained in the bottle over the back of my neck because it was so bloody hot. The only negative thing about the Lindemann Store is that the entrance and area where we park our bikes is exposed to the morning sun and it was blazing. It was there that my Garmin computer registered the highest temperature of the ride: 100.4 degrees F. After a few minutes we were back on the road. There’s no point in dawdling as the longer you wait to leave, the warmer the temperature during the ride.

I was carrying my point and shoot camera in my right hand and let it dangle by the lanyard for a few miles. This resulted in a few accidental shots like this one.

The heat on these gravel rides can just suck the life out of you. That’s why this was the first gravel ride I’ve done since June 22, when we did a gravel century on these same roads. On that day, we rode all the way to Fayetteville and back to Chappell Hill for a total of 100 miles at just under 7hrs of riding. I have had no desire to ride gravel since then until asked to ride on this day by my friend, Eliot.

Why does it feel hotter on gravel compared to any than any other ride? Good question. As noted by the elevation gained, it’s fairly hilly and as you grind up these climbs which range up to 10% grade, your speed is slower so you don’t get the cooling breeze that you may normally get while rolling on pavement. Also, the white-colored crushed limestone gravel reflects the sun right back towards you as you pedal along. So, this route is pretty exposed. A shaded route would make a world of difference.

At this point, I think we’re about 10 miles from the finish and we stopped here to regroup and lingered a bit to enjoy the shade. That’s Kevin in the foreground on his brand new Cervélo Aspero gravel bike.

The ride was much more spirited than I thought it would be. I had invited Kevin because I thought we would have a somewhat leisurely pace. But one of the guys, training for something or another, kept going off the front. That’s all it took to make a few of us chase. Most of my cycling for the last couple of months has been mostly training rides so I used the opportunity to see how effective my training has been and it seems to be paying off. While I did get to the point of fatigue faster than the fastest guys of the day, my power, heart rate and cadence numbers were all trending upward. So, all in all it was a great ride and I was happy to get back on the gravel bike. I need a bit more preparation of the El Camino Gravel Race in September.

4 thoughts on “Gravel Cycling in Chappell Hill and Areas South

  1. Nice post. I haven’t done gravel but enjoy a patch of it on the side of the road occasionally. I don’t think hearing it for a century would be fun. Yeah the heat is relentless but should be abating soon. I used to have alot more of what I call accidental art, that’s neat you included one. Anyway, you must like gravel a little if you are training for a race. Hello from up the road in Austin. Doubt I it my bike could keep up but if you’re ever hear and want to go on a leisurely recovery ride with me, let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dude! Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, gravel is fun when it’s not scorching hot outside. But the summer heat and the distance to drive are factors that take some of the fun out of the equation. I plan to do the Tour das Hugel again this year so I’ve been thinking about Austin riding. It’s typically in early November. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Mick. I did that same ride with 6 other buddies this past Saturday, 9/14. I have been racing and riding for over 30 years. This was my first gravel experience, and i will say it was one of the hardest rides i have ever done. Super HOT, and your description of the store in Industry is accurate, no shade anywhere. My Garmin registered 115 degrees there. We had a hot headwind on the way back to Chappell Hill. I felt like i had done a century ride on asphalt… Might do it again when it is not so hot…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mike. Were you with David’s group last weekend? I seem to recall seeing a notice on FB about a ride up there. Speaking of a century, I’m signed for the El Camino 105 up in Palestine on September 28. I’m hoping it will b a bit cooler but I’ve done it twice before and it will likely still be hot and a long day on the bike. Thanks for visiting!

      Like

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