Monday, March 10, 2003                       Palestine Challenge

While the Big Thicket had been pretty flat (despite my whining to the contrary), the area around Palestine was hilly. Today was a surprisingly good day after yesterday's fiasco. The hills were relentless but also beautiful. There also was a lower " Bubba factor," meaning that there weren't hostile, anti-bike hicks driving pick-ups like in the Big Thicket. The route in Best Bike Rides Texas started at the Anderson County courthouse, but I discovered that I could avoid most of the in-town traffic by starting from the post office on  the north side  of Palestine. The only catch was that I would have to get back by 5 PM when the post office closed.  Since it was already mid-afternoon, I planned to do the short version of the route.

The county roads north of Palestine were hilly, forested and lightly traveled.

I rode down a long hill on FM 321.

The long and short versions of the route split at the intersection of FM 321 and FM315. With a look at my watch and some quick math, I figured that I had at least half an hour to spare. I decided to  continue on the long route  for 15 minutes, then turn back.  As I was heading north on FM 315, I saw a fantastic road with steep hills and went  exploring. Some of the pavement on County 444 was rough, but it was worth it. This was the highlight of my ride.

This was my " discovery" --CR 444 was not part of the Palestine Challenge in the book.

Here was another doozy of a hill on CR 444.

CR 444 ended less than a mile from where it began. Since I didn't have a map and I had to get back to the post office before 5 PM or risk being towed, I was reluctant to explore further. I turned around and returned  to FM 315 to ride back to Palestine.

It wouldn't be a trip to Texas without a cow picture.

This hill was on FM 315 just north of Palestine.

Totals for the day: 28.8  miles in 2:09  for a 13.3 mph average.

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