The CruiseLiner Tandem

CruiseLiner tandem
Kem and her new tandem

Kem has added one more bike to her stable of bikes. This time, a tandem. And it’s very cool. For around town cruisin’, it’s really hard to beat the fun you can have on this bike. We got out yesterday in the nice weather to cruise around west Austin. Went down to Medici for a coffee and then up to Central Market for some stuff to grill. The bike has a detachable basket so you can take it right into the store with you. Handy.

Half the fun of the bike is just watching the smiles on people’s faces as you ride by. Seriously, we’d be riding by and people would just light up. Kids love it: “Hey, cool bike!”. Yes, it is.

Pedal Power Wildflower Ride 2008

Chas on Pedal Power ride
Pedal Power 2008

Yesterday was the Pedal Power Wildflower Ride out in Stonewall. Actually, it starts from the park at the LBJ ranch, but I guess that is considered Stonewall. The ride name is a bit of a mouthful to say so I just way “Pedal Power ride”. I love the 60 miler route they do on this ride because it includes the Willow City Loop.

Kem’s off the bike for awhile so Jim and I did this ride. It’s a bit of a hike out to Stonewall so we were up before sunrise packing things up and heading out. Leaving from Jim’s up north we routed through Marble Falls on the way out. We had plenty of time so pulled into the Bluebonnet Cafe – home style cookin since 1929 – for some breakfast on the way. I don’t usually go for a big ranch hand style breakfast, but I figured I’d be burning more than a few calories on the ride so opt’ed for a really big breakfast. Scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, biscuits – with gravy of course! – and coffee. Holy cow! Lots o’ food.

Gravy for breakfast is over the top but then there was the rest stop food along the ride. There was the usual bananas and cookies and things like that, but a couple of the stops had full sized sausage wraps, slices of what appeared to be summer sausage and two kinds of cheese cubes! Not your typical ride food. Had I not had the monster breakfast I might have given some of that a try but instead stuck with the bananas.

Ordinarily the route through the Willow City Loop is loaded with flowers at this time of year. Might have just caught it at the wrong time but this year, very few flowers. You really had to look for any at all. Last year Kem and I rode the same route and the area was blanketed with them.

Rosedale Ride

Although I have no pictures of it, I thought I’d also quickly mention last week’s Rosedale ride. It was cold and damp last week but I decided to go anyway. That ride is always really well attended. The routes are pretty flat ones northeast of Austin. Thankfully it never rained though it did sprinkle for a bit. For some reason people have a tendency on that ride to take off fast. The group seems to have this collective pent up need to race. Winds were out of the north and yet we were still humming along at a 20’ish mph pace as a group.

I was humming along quite nicely at the 24 mile point when bam! I snagged a nail in my rear tire. That’s actually a first for me. I’ve never picked up a full sized nail before. I hadn’t even seen it. Stuck in there it made quite a racket. Thankfully the tire wasn’t destroyed when it blew so I was able to just put in a new tube. I had trouble getting air in the tire though but some really kind soul named Tom happend by, stopped and filled it with one of those air canisters.

Easter Hill Country 2008

Pink and Blue
Kem on EHCT 2008

I’m finally getting around to jotting down a few notes from this year’s Easter Hill Country Tour. Aside from a woeful fall that Kem had – which I’ll get to – the rides and weather were really great this year.

For those following along, last year’s EHCT was largely snuffed out mid stream by freezing temps and sleet on Saturday. Though as you can see from the link, the flowers on the ride that Friday were amazing.

Easter came much earlier this year though and consequently there were very few flowers to speak of along the routes.

Friday we opt’ed for the 44 miler. Last year we had done that same route and done the 60 miler but we figured this year we’d save the longer ride for Saturday. The route north of Fredericksburg is one of my favs. The views back over the valley after climbing Lower Crab Apple are always worth a short stop. And I love the section along Welge-Hausen where you zoom down hill with Enchanted Rock looming in the distance. The picture here is one I took on last year’s ride.

Our Friday ride was nearly complete – we had maybe a half mile or so to go – and Kem took a tumble off her bike. Thankfully she had a good helmet. It cracked instead of her head. Aside from a headache – not surprisingly – she otherwise seemed fine though we would later find she had injured her shoulder in the fall and is currently in a sling and off the bike for another 4 weeks or so.

Kem opt’ed wisely to just rest on Saturday. I made the trip down to Kerrville and did the 60 miler. Another really nice hill country route. The first hour of the route was largely up hill and got us warmed up pretty quickly. The hill on “Freedom Trail Rd” had a lot of people slowed to a crawl. The section along hwy 27 is not my fav because of traffic but at least there’s a wide shoulder. The rest, particular along White Oak Rd and Zenner-Ahrens are quiet scenic sections of the route.

Friday night we managed to make it back to one of my favorite restaurants in that area. The Hill Top Cafe. Johnny Nicholas played the piano/harmonica and sang a little too. We’d gone out there last year too. The food’s great and oh yeah, they make great pies!

Finally, a few notes for anyone involved in planning the EHCT that happens along this write-up. Two words: More toilets. The rest stops had only 1 portable toilet. The start of the ride had only 2! Sigh. And a little variety at the rest stops would be nice. Bananas, pretzels and pickle juice at every stop.