West Texas Bike Tour in 2017

Mary and I did a seven-day bike tour with Lizard Head in West Texas during April, covering 382 miles on our bikes. We rode three days in the Davis Mountains and four days in the Big Bend parks on good roads with very little traffic. We did more shuttles than on previous trips but shared them with very interesting guests. Here is a brief summary.

On Day 1 (Sunday, April 9) we shuttled from El Paso to just south of Kent. We then biked 38 miles into a strong headwind on the west side of the Davis Mountains and did another shuttle to our overnight stay in Marfa. This town was made famous by the movie Giant, which was filmed west of town.

On Day 2 (Monday, April 10) we shuttled to Fort Leaton just east of Presidio and then biked 59 miles to the ghost town of Terlingua. It has a population of 58, not including ghosts. This ride was up and down along the Rio Grande, mostly in Big Bend State Park. The air temperature was in the 90s, but our bike thermometers read in the 100s. We spent the first of three nights in Terlingua, which is just outside Big Bend National Park.

On Day 3 (Tuesday, April 11) we biked 48 miles from Terlingua to the Santa Elena Canyon of the Rio Grande, where we hiked and waded in the river before shuttling back to our ghost town. We biked a U-shaped route, mostly in the national park, with an uphill headwind on the first leg and a downhill tailwind on the last leg.

On Day 4 (Wednesday, April 12) we biked up to the Chisos Basin, went on a hike, and biked back to Terlingua. We did 58 miles on our bikes, covering some of the same route as the day before. Mary’s GPS said that she set a new 40-km speed record on the way back, as we went downhill with a tailwind most of the way. We saw some scraggly lupine flowers, which are evidently called bluebonnets in Texas.

On Day 5 (Thursday, April 13) we shuttled to Panther Junction and then biked 68 miles out of the national park to Marathon. The scenery was pretty bleak, but there were lots of small wildflowers and interesting roadkill: a deer, badger, peccary, and vulture.

On Day 6 (Friday, April 14) we shuttled to Fort Davis and the then biked the Davis Mountains loop, part of which reversed our first day’s ride. This is reportedly the best ride in Texas, and the last part of our 75-mile clockwise loop was very nice. Mary and I also added three bonus miles climbing to the top of Mt Locke where the 2.7- and 2.1-m telescopes of the McDonald Observatory are located.

On Day 7 (Saturday, April 15) we did a blazing downhill ride for 33 miles from Fort Davis to San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Park. There we swam with fish in the huge, freshwater pool. Afterward we shuttled back to El Paso.

Some pictures with more information follow.