Dennis in Texas

Dennis in Texas
My job requires periodic trips to McAllen Texas where I drive across the border to the supplier in Reynosa Mexico during the work week.  I’ve wanted to bring a bike – road or mountain- but the cost of shipping or flying a bike is so expensive that it has always been prohibitive even for the few times my trips are more than a work week long.
I came up with an idea to buy a bike at a pawnshop just to have something to pedal, but three outlets I stopped at didn’t have a bike in my size to make this a viable option.  Then, one of my contacts at the supplier, who is also a supplier, told me Tuesday he had a mountainbike I could borrow. He brought it in Wednesday- a Raleigh.  I took it for a tune up ride Wednesday night.
Today I rode it out to the Mission Trail system in Mission Texas, a nearby town to McAllen.  The ride out was ten miles.  Once at the trails, I rode the mountainbike loops.  The trails also have a single out&back paved track too.
Mission Trails can be considered the Texas version of Bass River.  There is not much elevation but the trail builders put in a whole lot of mileage in a confined space.  The only significant climbs are on the outer boundaries north and south when they run the trail up a short steep incline onto the levee that borders each side, after which they dive the trail back down into the Texas scrub.
Clearly the foliage is different- notice the cactus.  And it’s funny to see little desert lizards scooting across the trail instead of chipmunks.
The tread is hardpacked and fast, though, and mostly clay based.  You can see some severe tire ruts in a few sections where someone had ridden the trail when wet and the clay set up.  But erosion isn’t really an issue here.
Cactus is, however.  At one point, I had some foliage stuck to my front wheel and it was whipping around on every revolution, so I pulled it off the tire and heard a faint “phttt” sound as a small amount of air escaped.  I held my breath but no instant deflation occurred.  I considered I might have a slow leak, so I continued my ride for another half hour before heading back to the hotel.
So far the tire is holding so perhaps the air that escaped when I removed the cactus thorn was simply air trapped between the tire and tube- meaning the tube is not pierced.
I plan to ride Sunday as well, though I am torn.  There’s a 35 mile road race in Edinburg which I can’t really enter since I didn’t do the time trial today and am riding a mountainbike instead of my road bike.  The event is at 730am, so I think I will be better off doing another ride out to the Misson Trails and forgo the road event, even as a spectator.
I took another ride out to Mission Trails this morning. I encountered Jaime on his road bike- he is the guy that loaned me the mountainbike. He was on a morning road ride. We rode in the same direction for 3-4 miles and he turned off northward as I proceeded west toward the trails.
Update- 10-2-10 I took my first tumble today, climbing a small rise in the embankment. Not familiar with the trail I failed to shift down quick enough and stalled on the climb. I put out my left foot to dismount to walk the last few feet to the top, except- when I put my foot down on the grass- there was nothing underndeath it! It was that long grass that basically hung over thin air- I fell over the left side and down the embankment about five feet, landing on grass and rocks. No injuries, however, just a scraped elbow and cut finger on a sharp rock.
Here’s a photo of the “Pooh Forest” segment of the trails. Big guys like Rick, Ralf and Ernie would NOT be comfortable in this section.

Rick asked about mileage- it’s tough to determine. I asked three different riders at the trail head and got three different answers.  But there appears to be 10-14 miles of trail at least.  However, I rode some of the loops farther out from the trail head today and they are definitely not maintained- really overgrown, likely not ridden as much as the loops closer to the parking lot.
There is apparently controversy on this land as well.  I tried the link to the local mtb organization but their site is down, so I googled their cached site.  Apparently the local govt authorities “leased” the whole property to a gun club for ONE DOLLAR!  WTH?!
Photos from the cache shows many cyclists with signs protesting at a city council meeting.
The city said they didn’t “know” about the biking and hiking at that land unit since the Parks&Rec board was only an advisory board and didn’t tell the mayor about it.  Really? I’m not even from the area and I KNOW about these trails yet we are to understand the mayor and city council don’t know about a regular hiking and biking location on city owned property that actually has a parking lot and a kiosk sign with a map?  Really?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a strong mountainbiking culture here in the lower Rio Grande valley- there seems to be limited trail opportunities as well as clearly civic institutions don’t recognize mountainbiking.  Most cycling I’ve seen here is road riding and I’ve not found another mountainbike location nearby in any research I’ve done.

Dennis B Murphy