MidTown RV Park 360 loop via Stratford Drive and Airport Bl.
Today I left the MidTown RV Park located at 7th and Airport. I rode 25 miles yesterday at the Veloway and on South MoPac. Today I wanted to ride what I consider one of my most challenging rides. I added this route to Bikely. I just joind the web site. It is really cool. I knew that this ride had a lot of elevation but I was surprised to look at the profile to see that it has 1,861 feet of elevation.
I started my ride in East Austin with a leisurely ride down 5th street and then on 2nd street towards downtown Austin. I switched over to Cesar Chavez to make my way across the Colorado River for the first time on Congress. I passed through the trendy restaurant row on Barton Springs and then turned off into Zilker Park. This part of the ride is all flat and the real excitement started as I ventured on to Stratford Drive.
Right after I passed the boat rental I dropped into my granny gear and prepared to stand up and climb the 1/8 mile very steep hill. Stratford Drive has some very steep inclines and descents with some really cool curves so I have to be focused when I ride this route. The homes on this street are incredible so I get a nice view as I huff up the hills.
So after I have gotten my 56 year old legs warmed up on Statford there is Redbud Trail staring me in the face. After the stop sign I turn left and proceed to climb another hill. The last time that I rode this section of Redbud Trail the pavement was bumby and full of pot holes and concrete lumps that fall out of concrete trucks and are left to harden. I always know I am on steep roads when I see concrete truck droppings. Redbud Trail was repaved recently and I was so glad that I can ride up this grade and the fast descent that follows and not have to dodge obstacles that could put you in the hospital.
As I approach the intersection of W Lake Drive and Redbud Trail I am getting ready for another steep granny gear climb. The intersection is a four way stop and in Austin it is very common for moterist to wave cyclist through the intersection. I always wave in appreciation to folks that do this. I am really glad that the guy in the truck waved me through because it is a chore to start up the next grade from a dead stop.
This section of Redbud Trail is a steep climb that is longer than any on Stratford. By the time I get to these climbs my legs are ready. I especially love this part of the ride. Redbud Trail has little traffic and it is a steep climb that tapers off to moderate grades but gives you an enjoyable level or exercise. The views from this point back over Austin are great.
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Riding on Redbud Trail is very peaceful even though my heart is pounding and I am breathing hard and sweat is dripping from my forehead to the ground. When I come to the end of Redbud I am faced with Bee Caves Road. Bee Caves is has two lanes in each direction and when you are south of 360 there is no shoulder. I rode on Bee Caves and then went north on 360.
Loop 360 is the autobaun for cyclist in Austin. Sure it has 60 mile an hour traffic and it has lots of cars during rush hour. 360 does have some good points for cyclist. 360 has very wide shoulders and some of the best hills in Austin. If you look at the contour maps you will see that Loop 360 crosses the 600 foot elevation line a few times and then when it intersects HWY 183 it crosses the 800 foot elevation. When you look at the Sttratford and Redbud Trail topographic lines you will see that the cross the same elevation lines but is a much shorter distance. This will give you an idea about how steep the ride is.
From this point I turned on Old Jollyville Road and then to Mesa Drive then To Spicewood Springs. This route is taking me across town towards my favorite inner city street, Shoal Creek. Shoal Creek is cool even on the hottest Texas afternoons because it is lined with big trees. After Shoal Creek I get on to North Loop and then I hit Airport Bl and head back to my home at the RV park.
This ride was really cool because I covered the flat land and the hills. I crossed all social economic neighbor hoods of Austin from Latino and Black to the west hill rich white folks and the north Austin middle class down to the trendy Longhorn areas. The ride was about 32 miles and took me 2 hours and 30 minutes.