June 2008


Gunnar dog
Waterford bicycle

While I was in Wisconsin recently, I took a short detour and drove over to check out Waterford Precision Cycles. I had a custom built Waterford done back in ’03 that I really love. I got the lugged steel RST-22. I thought I’d check out where it was born.

You have to be looking for the place. It’s off the beaten path in the small town of Waterford, Wisc. Richard Schwinn – one of the co-founders – greeted me with a friendly hello and proceeded to give me a quick tour of the facility. He was joined by Gunnar the dog – the name sake of the Gunnar Bikes. Gunnar’s are made alongside the Waterford bikes. And as it turns out, Waterford also makes Volae recumbents and some Terry bikes as well as some for Rivendell.

Gunnar was really a friendly dog. I snapped this photo of him and also a shot of one the new custom bikes in progress in the paint shop.

This is the third bicycle manufacturing facility I’ve been to over the years. I think they’re always kinda fun to visit. The first I ever went to was Bike Friday out in Eugene Oregon. I remember being surprised by how small an operation it seemed to be. But they were very nice and let us borrow a couple bikes from their show room to try out. I really liked it and ended up buying one. (You can see it in the picture here.)

The other was the Tommasini factory in Grosseto Italy. They were bigger but like Bike Friday had a showroom attached to check out the bikes. Kem picked up the lugged steel bug from me and decided to order a classic steel Tommasini. She was fitted by Mr. Tommasini himself. Pretty cool!

My nephew graduated this spring but the celebratory event for friends and family was held this past weekend. Coincidently, Kem’s niece also graduated this spring and had a similar event on the same weekend. So we both took time for long weekends and headed north. Kem to Chicago, me to Appleton Wisconsin.

The weather was a welcome contrast to the heat wave we’ve been enduring in Austin, so I spent as much time as I could outside and on my sister’s deck. Sleeping with the window open and no A/C was refreshing as well.

I snagged my sister’s bike on a couple of occasions and tooled around town. Would have been nice to have a road bike to explore some of the country roads, but I wasn’t outfitted for that. The hybrid offered some comfy riding around town though. There are some really nice paved bike paths in and near the city. I connected up with one north of Meade past Thrivent Financial into the northern ‘burbs. Then a longer ride out College Street, past Lawrence College to Kimberly and then on to Kaukauna.

Old tandem

No, that’s not my sister’s bike. (Hers was in good shape.) The bike pictured here was among a collection of similar old rusted out relics I happened across. They formed a fence along a little side path off the main bike path to Kaukauna that lead to a really nice bike shop named “Recyclist“. I pulled in for a look-see.

The ride I did to the north was shorter but had some streams and fields of clover along the way. Scents have a way of evoking past memories like nothing else and the fields of clover reminded me a lot of past rides along country roads in Iowa and Minnesota. That, and the ever present sounds of Red Wing black birds.

Clover Red Wing blackbird

On the drive home today, the rush hour traffic crawled along Hwy 360 and the temp bounced from 103 to 105. Just another June day in Austin. It’s actually not an unusual sight to see someone jogging in the heat of the day around here – it’s a pretty fitness oriented city – but I wonder: is it really wise to go out jogging along a major highway in this kind of heat?

I saw this woman today jogging up the 360 hill in the blistering heat of the day. I wonder what led her to choose that time of day? Is life so busy that she couldn’t find a better time? Or was she purposely trying to make the workout all that much harder?

Texas Windmill
Dripping Springs To Johnson City
pic 008

Is this summer hot enough for ya yet? Yeah, I know. As far as the calendar goes, it’s still spring. But we’ve already had as many 100 degree days as all of last summer so I think I can safely say it’s summer in central TX.

Despite the heat, we’ve managed to get out in the Hill Country and do a couple interesting rides recently. A few weeks ago we did an old favorite – a ride from Dripping Springs to Johnson City. The Creek Road route south of Dripping Springs is always a favorite. Low traffic and scenic countryside.

The only downside to this route at all is the relatively short section of Hwy 290 as you go from FM-165 to the park road FM-3232. It’s busy with only a narrow shoulder and that shoulder is about as rough as asphalt gets. FM-3232 is nice though with some fantastic views of the Hill Country. The entrance to the park has a nice spot under some trees to take a break – which we did.

FM-2766 into Burnet is a similar scenic road of rolling hills. The windmill pictured here caught my eye on the way out. There’s no house or barn there any more but the windmill still works. Some Prickly Pear cactus has somehow managed to take root and do quite well on the top of a rock gate post.

The same road has a winery named Texas Hills. We didn’t stop in but oddly enough, there was a wine festival in Austin the very next day and we went to it. Texas Hills was there. Surprisingly, one of Texas Hills wines turned out to be one of our favorites of the day. Their Due Bianco is a blend of Pinot Grigio (21%) and Chardonnay (79%) and it was crisp and fruity and perfect for a hot day.

The middle picture of Kem and I was taken on Creek Rd on the return. If we look a little red, well, it’s cause we were hot!

The other ride we did was the Real Ale ride in Blanco. It was a benefit ride done by Real Ale for the public library there. They had a huge turn out. By their report 1400 riders. Logistics were a bit of a mess at the start, but otherwise, the ride was great. The 50 mile route was pretty hilly and the heat pretty intense. As the morning wore on it appeared to take its toll. I think the medics were busy that day. We took it slow and were fine.

The bottom picture here was post ride at the Real Ale brewery. There were serving up mounds of BBQ and some of the beer they make on site. The Firemans #4 Blonde Ale which we’re raising a glass of here was perfect for post ride quaffing. More please.