September 2007


Chas & Kem on Rip Roarin' ride 2007

Saturday morning was the Rip Roarin’ Ride in Liberty Hill, which is not too far a drive from here. 30 min give or take. The area is one of my favorites to ride for the rural scenery and low traffic. Thought I’d jot a few notes and post this picture of Kem and me.

Was a pretty good turnout – would guess somewhere around 500+ riders – and the Lions Club that puts it on did a nice job with the rest stops and support. Once again my registration fee nets me a t-shirt of questionable value. Though, I’m sure I’ll find some time/place to make use of it. We noticed a few ball caps with their ride logo on them. I think I’d much prefer a ball cap than a t-shirt.

Kem joined me on the 49-miler (which was 50 when all was said and done.) Was a really pleasant route. Rolling. One steep hill the whole route. None of the roads were new to me, but always fun to ride again.

We caught the picture here at one of the later rest stops. They’d really outdone themselves with the scarecrow decorations at this stop. It doesn’t feel like autumn weather here at all yet, but the decorations that people put out at this time of year are starting to come out in force. The stores have piles of pumpkins already too. I guess it is October next week already so I should expect it. Still so tropical around here right now though.

The barrage of catalogs have started to arrive in my mail too. I know, I know, time to starting thinking about Christmas already isn’t it. It’s too early…

Don’t see any organized rides for next weekend. Bound to be something that comes up though.

Chas at HCC
Chas at HCC 2

It’s Fall! Time once again for the round of fall rides in Texas. Last weekend was first one of the season for me and Kem.

The Hill Country Challenge ride was last weekend in Burnet. Finally getting around to some notes on it. We chose to do the 64 miler. I’ve ridden out in that area before, but as it turned out, a fair bit of the 64 mile route (actually 65 by my count) was on roads I’d never done before. Nice change of pace. And I really liked the route. Way off the beaten path and for a good part of it at the start, practically zero traffic. Some places I’m likely to return to ride again.

You put up with a lot of cattle guards, rough roads and low water crossings in these remote areas though. Not a big deal, but you really have to be careful. In this case, many of the cattle guards had a gap right up the middle. Don’t see that too often. Very easy for the wheel of even a mountain bike to get snagged in there. Even though someone had gone out in advance and spray painted such obstacles orange, someone took a header on one of the cattle guards. Apparently she was ok, but the helmet she was wearing is no more. I don’t know for sure, but might have been a case of some folks in a pace line. I don’t really think these kind of rides/roads are all that suited to the pace line crowd but you always find them anyway. The problem is, a rider in back doesn’t see that the cattle guard has a gaping crack right down the center – even if someone shouts it out.

They chose the weekend of the Austin City Limits music festival to do the ride, so I’m not sure they got the turnout they were expecting. Still though, there was a decent number of people that attended considering that for most folks participating means driving an hour or more out to Burnet. The food after was good. Salad, pasta and some chicken. And for a change, I actually liked the t-shirt they were giving out. Overall, great ride.

The pink bike in the second picture is undoubtedly Kem’s wonderful Tommasini.

dean-twehues

I had meant to mention in the last post about a couple of people we happened across on the long weekend of riding in New Hampshire. Our little group was taking it easy and lapping up some ice cream cones when we saw a couple of fully loaded riders come along. We waved hello and they joined us for a bit and told us a little about their saga. Dean and Laurie Twehues have been riding since June 3rd across the entire northern tier of the US all summer long. They were on their way to Bar Harbor and as of Sept 9th have completed their journey. Over 4000 miles! What an amazing ride that must have been. They seemed no worse for wear though and clearly seemed to be having fun with it. They gave us a card with their web site on it.

We ran into them on their way to Orford, NH. Our little group even gets a mention in their journal for that day’s ride. Page down in their pics for the day and you’ll find our Bike Vermont tour guide Wally and his van. No pics of the group though.

My picture here includes a shot of Dean to the left and Laurie’s bike to the right. Nice looking Seven with massive amounts of gear on it. I recall her saying something about it being well over 40 pounds. Don’t remember the details, but it was no doubt a load to haul up the hills. She’d fitted it with some very practical, wide and heavy duty looking tires. She had also surrounded the handlebars with a pipe insulation and then covered that with padded handlebar tape. Apparently she had to make the adjustment along the way ’cause her hands were otherwise just too sore.

Oddly perhaps, I marvel less about the physical ability to make such a trek and more about how they managed to apparently retire at such an early age and take off on such an adventure? Clearly I need to plan better. I’m only a few years behind them and there’s no way I can imagine retiring at 50 or close to it. Would be very cool to do so, but how many people can really manage to do it at their age? and with 3 kids? wow. Very impressive on many fronts.

Bike Vermont Mouse Mountain Lodge

Finally getting around to writing up some notes on last weekend’s bike tour. K and I trekked up to New Hampshire & Vermont to do some biking over the Labor Day weekend. It was a fantastic weekend.

I’ll find myself occasionally using the phrase “you pays your money and you takes your chances”. I don’t remember where I picked it up, but regardless, it’s true of so many things that I just like the phrase. Anyway, bike tours to far flung destinations (at least far flung for me) are a perfect example of the phrase. You really never know what you’re going to encounter when you sign up in advance for a bike tour offered by some tour company – or even if you go it alone. Is the weather going to mess things up? are the accommodations/food going to suck? etc, etc. You sign up, make the trip and you hope for the best.

This last weekend we came up all aces. We did the “Moose Mountain” tour (4 day/3 night) offered by Bike Vermont. We got to Moose Mountain Lodge on Friday. It’s way up in the hills near Hanover NH. Though we had directions, we still missed the turn and had to backtrack. It’s off the beaten path quite a bit. Then up a long, steep, winding gravel road. The view once you get up there though is fantastic. They call it a 100 mile view, and I don’t know if that’s true or not but you get a panoramic view of the Connecticut river valley and across into Vermont.

Moose Mountain Lodge is a rustic place with a lot of rooms. Our group though was only 6 strong plus a tour leader and a couple of random hikers that had joined us for the weekend. Peter and Kay that run the place are salt-of-the-earth folks that couldn’t have been better hosts.

Let me say first off the food at the place was awesome. I won’t go into the details of the menus but we ate breakfasts and dinners there from Friday thru Monday and I enjoyed every meal. Breakfasts had made-to-order eggs and typically some wonderful baked goods. Fresh blueberry muffins or a cinnamon roll coffee cake, plus turkey sausage, black bean hash, fruits, yogurt, waffles, french toast, etc… Great stuff. Dinners included things like pork loin, fresh corn on the cob, a variety of vegetable dishes, fantastic desserts… all fresh from the kitchen in the next room.

Oh, and fresh batches of cookies were routinely available. Mmmmm.

It was a BYOB type of place as well so we enjoyed some nice wine we picked up in town with meals.

Ok, so the food was excellent. What about the weather? Mint. A thunderstorm greeted us Thursday night and it ushered in a weekend of fantastic weather. Low humidity, morning temps in the 40’s that warmed to the 70’s, maybe 80 on Monday. Clear blue skies and light breezes. Carmel California weather in New England. Starting out in the mornings, it was down right chilly. I soaked up every ounce though ’cause this morning – back home in Austin – it was steamy and pushin’ close to 90 by the time I finished my morning ride today. (Was dreaming of last weekend’s weather … sigh.)

And the riding? Loved it. Traffic was light and we rode scenic rolling hills throughout the CT river valley area around and north and west of Hanover NH. Trees, rivers, hills, lakes, views, covered bridges, quaint towns, smooth roads, and stops for ice cream, … I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We did “options” on both the Sat and Sunday ride. Bike Vermont rides tend to cater to people that don’t ride much – or plain just don’t ride on a regular basis at all. Without options, the rides are pretty easy. They’ve been in business for over 30 years so I think they realize there are a lot more people that DON’T bike that much so best to cater to the needs of a wider audience. However, they’re good about providing options if you want to do more. This is my 2nd such tour (other was years ago) and in both cases they’ve been willing to suggest extra routes. So we ended up doing 54 miles on Sat and 52 on Sunday. In both cases these were options to options. The basic route would have been maybe 30-something miles. The options included some more hills as well, not surprisingly.

The routes are not flat in this area though. This is some hilly country. Though most of it was in the river valley and none of the hills were particularly bad. Some gravel, though mostly not.

The group was smaller than most ‘tour’ type rides I’ve done. Only 6 riders plus the tour ‘lead’ that shadowed us in a van. That size was good though. It allowed everyone to pretty much take however much time they wanted.

All in all, a good tour. I’d do another some time.

The pictures in this post include one in Enfield, NH. Someone had turned their bike into a flower pot of sorts. Kinda cool though I thought. And then this last one of K and I at one of the covered bridges we encountered.

Union Village Bridge