Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pre-Dawn Pass Hunting

Sometimes one must make do with what one has. If I lived in a mountainous area, or had the where-with-all to travel, I'd probably not be able to resist this bicycling cult. But I don't. No sense whining about it. I'll just work with what I have.

What I typically have is an hour or so, before work, in the dark. What I also have is what I call the "barely rolling" terrain of northwest Denton County, Texas, where the elevations range from about 600 to 1000 feet above sea level. Let's make the best of it.

This morning's plan was to leave my house and go bag a couple of passes. That's right, I said TWO passes in one day. It was quite an adventure. Since it was black dark when I left and black dark when I returned, there are no photos. Just trust me. Oh yeah, those of you who live on more irregular terrain, please keep your snickers and ridicule to yourselves. I'm doing the best I can, remember?

Rolling out into the darkness at 5:30 am was excellent because the heat of the summer sun was nowhere to be found. The coolness of 75 degrees was bliss.

As soon as I reached FM 2450, I began to climb. In fact, there is a slight climb from my drive to the highway. We'll neglect that and just say this adventure begins at the highway adjacent to my house at elevation 777.

After climbing gradually for a few minutes, I had made excellent progress toward the elevation of highest pass of the day. Unfortunately, all of that elevation gain, and more, was lost before I reached the actual base of the climb. The actual climb to the crest at 858 feet was probably more like 100 feet of elevation gain. If you get in a nice groove, the climb is over before you know it.

Still having some time and energy left over, I headed to another nearby pass. This one peaks at 802 feet. It isn't as long or as high, but it is a bit steeper. Because I'm too lazy to downshift on this one, it usually involves standing. It's nice to stretch occasionally. By the time, my legs feel a need to rest, I'm over the crest.

It was quiet, it was dark, and the work day awaited. So I turned around, spun back to my little house on the prairie and smiled. The sun wasn't up yet, but it's already been a good day.

A two-passes-before-breakfast day.


  1. I've definitely been inspired by the passhunting folks as well. I rode through a few passes in Pennsylvania, but now that I'm back in Indiana, it's hilly but there are not many places designated as a Pass, Gap, etc.

    Did you find some passes/gaps on a topo map, or just climb some hills?

  2. Although the interest is genuine, the actions are tongue-in-cheek. Some wouldn't even refer to these ground wrinkles as hills.

  3. Ah geez, the sarcasm was lost on me as I read this. Still, it's good to feel inspired by something, even if it's not really applicable to our daily riding.