I finally punched my official Austin cyclist membership card on Saturday by riding the "Dam Loop", a popular route in the scenic hill country west of Austin. The definition of the loop varies depending on who you ask, but the key feature is a ride along route 620 which passes in front of Mansfield Dam, which in turn creates Lake Travis. The route is generally well-maintained, and includes a number of hills and other interesting features.
The 43-mile ride just about killed me. I left early in the morning to avoid the 105-degree afternoon heat, and managed to stay in shade most of the way. The hill country lived up to it's name by providing over 3,000 feet of climbing, and even a trip down Tumbleweed Hill hitting 50 mph. I was riding over unfamiliar terrain, which can be a bit surprising ("oh look, another hill"), but the view was gorgeous. By the end of the route, though, the hills were getting a bit tiresome, and I was nearing the end of my energy level. It turned out to be just the right challenge for the day.
3 months ago