If you want to experience Texas through the medium of mountain biking. The real Texas. The one that made tough men and women tougher. Then I invite you to visit Flat Rock Ranch. Before you go I’d recommend you take an extra shot of courage in the morning. You’re going to need it. This trail rewards the bold, the strong, and tough, but will punish a timid approach quickly and harshly. This is the most Texas Trail in America and if you think you can handle it then saddle up. It’s a hard land with a rugged landscape, but if you know what you’re looking for you will find beauty here and you may find part of yourself that’s gone missing. You may get bucked off your faithful steed and find yourself in one of the many cactus that line the trail. It’ll tickle a little, but you’ll be okay. Maybe you will start to appreciate the real beauty of Texas. The beauty that comes after you have endured something hard and you find out you’re tougher than you thought. For bonus points ride this trail in July when the heat index is 110 and the humidity is 90%. You will struggle. I don’t care who you are or where you come from, you will struggle.
The first 7 miles of the trail that eventually lead you to the top of Pipeline climb will challenge any rider in these conditions. You will be hot, thirsty, out of breath, and maybe maybe thinking about packing it in for the day, about your truck with air conditioning, that takes you back to your home where you can drink a cold beer in front of a high definition TV. But when you stop at the top of pipeline to catch your breath and stand in awe of the scenery while soaking in the cool breeze as you let your heart rate calm and find rhythm with the breeze, after you will be treated to a mile long fast decent that will leave you grinning to the ears and admonishing yourself for ever having thought about cutting your ride short.
When you get toward the end of the lower loop and your thoughts are torn by sadness that your experience is almost over and happiness that you came out considerably unscathed, just then when your mind has found it’s equilibrium there is a sign that reads “Hospital Hill”. Hospital Hill starts with a blind three foot drop off a stone ledge, and while you’re rejoicing in being alive you quickly come to a sharp left hand turn that is banked on the right side by prickly pear cactus. When you make it past that there is another drop, and another. It’s this trails way of leaving its mark on you. You won’t forget me…you’ll be back. And while you head back to your truck and you’re hot, tired, and maybe a little bruised and bloody you can’t help but be sad that your ride is over. Welcome to Texas.