Monday, December 17, 2012

New Pasture

I guess I ran into the fence line here, so it's time to make other arrangements. It's inconvenient that this occurs as I'm trying to get a post up about this year's Ramble, but it's not like climbing those steep gravel pitches into a headwind with only one gear and dust in my eyes. Since last Saturday, I think some of you now have a fond appreciation for my refreshing prairie headwinds.

Future posts to Pondero can be found here...

I hope to see you on the other side of the fence...


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Let's Ramble

Let's ramble!

I won't mislead you. I'm a little nervous about this year's event. Preparations have been a little more challenging this year. The unreliability of the Rosston General Store as a refreshment stop, and the infiltration of the oil and gas industry on some of our more "pristine" areas prompted a route change. I ended up with two alternate routes in hopes of minimizing a long headwind finish. Then I persuaded "GravelDoc" to make the trip down from Missouri to join the ride. Finally, if everyone that sent me a note actually comes, we will have our biggest Ramble ever. So, yes, I'm nervous. Expectations might be higher than ever. I hope my guests enjoy themselves.

The current weather forecast for Saturday indicates cool temperatures, only a slight chance for rain, and WSW wind.  If this holds, we'll take the Greenwood Loop route. That should make for a pleasant stop at the Greenwood Grocery and Grill. If the wind shifts to the north, we'll likely head for Gainesville.

It's almost Saturday.  So pack those bags with snacks, cameras, and a relaxed perspective, come up to my little place on the north Texas prairie, and join your friends in a pleasant rural ramble.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Melancholy, Meditation, and Medicine

A little before sunset, I set out for a couple of  hours. Sometimes I ride when I don't know what else to do. When life becomes difficult, I find that the rhythm of turning cranks and removing other sources of outside stimulus helps the meditation process. I have learned that pedaling can often be good medicine.

I lost my father-in-law yesterday. His three children lost their father. His wife lost a husband, and many people lost a wonderful friend. I share in the collective grief, and I hurt for all of them. But in addition to that, I have my own sense of loss. I remember meeting him the first time my wife (before we were married) brought me home to meet her parents.  I can only imagine what he must have thought of such an immature kid with his eldest daughter. But he always treated me like I was special.

He was truly like a second dad for me.  He was always patient, warm, hospitable, and in spite of my profound clumsiness, included me in his activities. I've spent many hours in his shop with him helping him build airplanes. It would have been more efficient for him to do things himself, but he took the time to teach me how to do things so I could be a part of his world.  He made me feel like I was useful to him, and when we talked about more serious matters, he made me feel like I was making good decisions. Is there anything better for a man than this kind of affirmation?

I can only hope he knows how much I appreciate the gift of his daughter, that I've done my best to take good care of her, and that I loved him dearly.

So I rode tonight with my one gear a good deal of time into a 20+mph headwind. But when your heart hurts this much, you can't feel your legs.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Recipe for Contentment


  • refreshingly cool fall day (just before sunrise is ideal)
  • hot coffee
  • a place of quiet solitude and contemplation
  • bike (simple is good)


Blend ingredients in proportions to satisfy personal tastes, and let simmer for an hour. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why Am I Smiling?

Because the Fourth Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble is less than one month away! Since I normally ride alone, the possibility that others might come join me for my personal annual tradition makes me eagerly anticipate this ride each year.


This year's Ramble will be on Saturday, December 15. We will roll out of my driveway at 10am. That means you should arrive in time to make all needed preparations before 10am.


The Ramble is a ride I do each year on a Saturday near the very end of autumn. The primary objective is to spend a few hours riding a bicycle with others on rural north Texas roads.  A goodly fraction of the route is on gravel roads. Historically, it has been a little over 40 miles, but this year (because of a route change), it could be closer to 50 miles. See prior Ramble reports for a little more insight (2011, 2010, and 2009)

I actually have two route possibilities, and they are both close to 50 miles. Final route selection has not been made yet, and might ultimately be made based on the weather forecast (I generally like to avoid ending my rides with headwind slogs).

Speaking of weather, I always want folks to know that I'm not hard-core.  I can ride if it is a little cold, or a little drizzly, but I don't like cold and wet.  On days like that, I will send you on your way with a cue sheet and my best wishes, and then spend the rest of my day by the fireplace.

The pace is what I call "conversational" because I think of this as a social kind of ride.  We might stop for snacks, photographs, or just because.  Like last year, I plan to have cue sheets available for those who might wish to ride faster or slower than me.

The other thing to emphasize for this ride is that you are responsible for you. This is not a T-shirt ride, there are no entry fees, and no sag services. Both routes have at least one place to stop for restroom, water, or snacks.  On one route that opportunity comes at approximately mile 19, and on the other route it comes at approximately mile 25. You should have a back-up plan for a mechanical problem, and beware...some areas on the Ramble route do not have cell phone service.  Yes, it's rural.


Anyone who is interested in being a part of what is described above is welcome to participate. If you plan to join me, I would appreciate an email message or a blog post comment telling me that you will be here.  My preparation plans are dependent on the number of folks participating, so please help me with this. 


If you need my address and/or directions to my little place on the prairie, send me an email.


Plan ahead. If this Ramble thing sounds like a good time, block out the day and get it on your calendar now. Then make your contingency plan in case you can't finish the route for any reason. Finally, let me know you are coming.

Any questions?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Elm Bottom Circle

This seemed as good a place as any to pull my two chocolate-topped cake donuts from my gravel dust encrusted Carradice bag. I had stopped at the donut shop in Sanger and packed a little snack to compliment my thermos of coffee before making my way down to Elm Bottom Circle. The morning was cloudy and blustery. With the 20-30 mph winds and color frosted vegetation, the world seemed restless in anticipation of the season's next cold front.

Elm Bottom Circle is a actually more triangle-shaped than circular, but does basically connect FM 428 at two points.  In between those two points, it drops down close to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River downstream of Lake Ray Roberts. My looped route descended toward the southeast and into the wind, and the climb back home was eased with a furious tailwind. I had figured that there might be some relief from the wind in the bottomlands, but even here, I was forced to hook my handlebar over the barbed wire to keep the bike from blowing over.

So I sat there on the slope of a roadside ditch, licking chocolate off my fingers, sipping coffee, and watching the bright-colored leaves rain sideways to the earth. And nobody else came by on Elm Bottom Circle.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pedaling Through Transitions

The colors mark a seasonal transition.

I start a new job on Monday. 

 Our Bible class begins a new study tomorrow.

 My daily routine will significantly change.

 But like always, my Saturday morning rides help me mentally process life's challenges.