Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I'll just start by asking for your indulgence. This post, unlike all my cycling heroes, doesn't include an exciting narrative of some grand adventure. Instead, this post is about preparation. In fact, it's merely about loading the bike for the very first time. It might not be you, but some of us are simply thrilled beyond measure.

Too long ago, my S24O reconn trip was documented. That post expressed desire to do a first ever S24O and how I had accomplished step one by identifying a suitable location. I hate to admit this, but it hasn't happened yet. For a variety of reasons (summer heat, summer crowds, and lack of camping gear among them), I've not rushed into the wilderness. Instead, patient and orderly preparations have been underway in the background.

Camping gear has been acquired. Rackage and baggage has been ordered. It has not all arrived, but an opportunity to venture out could possibly turn up before the gear does. Therefore, it became important to see if it is possible to load sufficient gear to survive a night out in the local state park for a single night in pleasant weather. Yeah, I live on the edge.

A front lowrider rack and front panniers are on the way, but I think it is possible to pedal out to a suitable camping spot with tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, coffee paraphernalia, and food. It's not an elegant solution, but a short 10-minute evening test ride suggests that it could work.

One more small step toward a meager (but terribly exciting for some of us) goal.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Overlapping Loops

As anticipated, Gene and I schemed a bit and came up with a plan to get the two Kogswell P/Rs together on the road. The plan included the following:

1. I get up early and ride to the Denton square.
2. Gene buys the coffee.
3. Gene shows me the way to the south end of the Greenbelt trail.
4. I document the ride with photos.
5. We ride north up to the Lake Ray Roberts dam, then west to FM 2164.
6. Gene turns south back toward Denton, I turn north back toward Sanger.

In other words, we both rode looped routes from our respective homes. Part of our individual routes overlapped with each other. Nobody has to drive...and that's a good thing.

The weather was virtually ideal. It was cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon, and there was little wind. It was a perfect opportunity for me to stretch out the mileage a little longer than what I've been doing lately and to enjoy the company of a friend with similar cycling aspirations.

We didn't linger too long at the coffee shop. It was still cool as we reached the edge of town.

Within minutes we were on the Greenbelt Trail for 10+ miles of quiet exploration.

The trail follows the Elm Fork of the Trinity River and crosses over somewhere in the middle.

Neither of us commonly see this many of these guys in one spot.

Since our last visit, Gene added Albatross bars, front rack, and basket.

This is the downstream side of the dam.

I had to work very hard to get ahead for this shot of Gene finishing the climb up the dam.

Once again, I can't resist rural Texas yard art.

Just before our loops diverge.

It was a lonely road back home.

A familiar creek...almost home.

Next time we do the overlapping loop thing, Gene suggests we meet up closer to my town. Sounds good. Next time, the coffee is on me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time to Think

A man needs time to think. He needs to ponder his future and consider his options. He ought not simply do the easiest or most convenient thing. He ought not do something just because he can. It seems a man should think about whether a thing has value and not whether it is simply economically profitable, a bargain, or the most efficient way. Efficiency has its place, but it's not everything. He should ask more often whether God is in it.

With all his time saving devices these days, I guess a man has lots of time to think. Unfortunately, it seems what he doesn't do is take a little time to think about what he should do all this extra time. Not that you did, but if you asked me, I'd say that the average man doesn't think about value and (without thinking) choses to do things that please him...because he can.

It seems a man has more ways to spend his time now than a man ever had. The thing is, just because he can doesn't mean he should. He should also be mindful enough to say NO to more things than he ever did. I say a man should be doing a lot less than he is...so that he can do the RIGHT things. Things of value. Like pondering his future and considering his options. Because a man needs time to think.

And some men need more time, because we are slower of mind.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Things you might see...

...if you ride with me.

One of the great things about the bicycle is its pace. It seems to me a perfect balance of movement and the ability to spot detail. One can cover great distances and access numerous interesting sights, but at a rate sufficiently slow to actually SEE them. Seeing is the only part I can share here, but the pace of the bicycle surely calls into service the other senses as well. Those who travel exclusively by automobile tragically lose touch.

In the slide show above, there are a few of the things you would see...if you ride with me. If you were to join me for a ramble through northwest Denton County, you'd see vast pastures and small flowers by the roadside. You'd see a hawk perched high on lonely windmill. You'd see fences, barns, horses, cows...and well...you'd see me. Sorry. Riding with me has it's advantages to be sure, but it's not perfect.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Some Roads

Some roads have even less traffic than the no-stripe roads mentioned earlier.

Some roads wind through wooded areas and have so little use, vegetation creeps up along the sides.

Some roads are still and quiet and you wonder what might be around the next curve. You wonder if it is something scary...

...or something pleasant and relaxing.

At least that is what I've heard.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Business Travel

This is one of my most scenic business trips ever. Normally, all I see is airports, taxis, restaurants, hotels, and meeting rooms. When I get to the meeting room and I'm the one teaching the class, I have to listen to ME talk for two days straight. How entertaining is that? Not very.

This time, however, when I stepped out on my 17th floor balcony, I saw this. I think this is one of the things we are actually supposed to see when we visit St. Louis, MO. This time when it came time to see something unique to my location, I (coincidentally) did. I understand the Cardinals were in town playing the Cubs, but I,unlike so many other red-shirted persons staying in the same hotel, didn't make it to that sight.

So, there ya go. That should give just an inkling of how glamorous my life is.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

No-Stripe Roads

Most cyclists have preferences regarding riding surface. From the highly technical off-road for the mountain bike specialist to the smooth and fast banked surface for the track racer, there is a broad spectrum. I prefer no-stripe roads.

I consider myself a road cyclist, but prefer narrower, quieter, out-of-the-way roads. When possible, I like to minimize encounters with large vehicles, noise, and congestion. There are roads out there that provide such opportunities. They are the back roads. Often they are county roads that are paved, gravel, or dirt.

Due to their size, and sometimes rougher surface, they do not promote high-speed automobile use. Due to their not-so-direct path from place-to-place, they do not promote frequent automobile use. My usual encounters are with pick-up trucks driven by folks that live nearby, because they also value less speed, noise, and congestion. We wave to one another as we pass.

Due to budget limitations and lack of need, no-stripe roads do not have striping to separate lane direction, passing zones, or to identify the edge of road. Rural folk have enough common sense to figure that out on their own.

The vast majority of my favorite local routes are comprised of these no-stripe roads. Allow me to illustrate. The first example clearly shows what a NON-no-stripe road looks like. Frequently, after about 30-40 minutes of no-stripe bliss, I cross this bridge over IH-35, look north, and see this view. I usually count myself lucky to be pedaling away from this noisy place.

Within about 90 seconds from the spot of the last photo, is a fine example of a true no-stripe road. The roar of the interstate fades quickly and the continuous quiet crunching of gravel under bicycle tires takes its place.

No-stripe roads meander through forested areas, between open pastures, and through small towns. They might be smooth or rough, in good condition or bad, and paved or not. They allow one to see the character of a place. Major highways give the traveler uniformity of road configuration, signage, and surrounding national-chain businesses. No-stripe roads offer diversity, personality, and amusement.

Now that I reflect on it, there is a kind of striped road that I do like. This kind…

Monday, September 1, 2008

Because I Can

After all that riding on gravel yesterday, a little clean-up was in order for the Kogswell P/R. Since the wheels and major accessories came off to aid the washing, it was a good time to build it back up with gears...merely for the sake of variety.

At my request, Anthony (Longleaf Bicycles) built me a spare rear wheel with a 7-speed cassette to use with my single 48t chainring. My main objective was to allow for a simple and fast switch between a fixed gear bike and a geared bike. There might be a number of practical excuses one could cite for this behaviour, but let's just be honest. I did it because I can.

It doesn't take long to remove the rear wheel and chain, and replace them with another wheel, rear derailleur, downtube shifter, a single cable, and a longer chain. All the alternative identity parts are stored together so a change can occur almost as fast as the "need" arises, like Clark Kent donning the Superman suit.

The simplicity of the fixed gear drive train strikes a personal chord, so that is the default configuration. But today, I WANT to fiddle with the downtube shifter and think about which gears to use climbing certain inclines. I WANT to have the ability to take advantage of higher speeds with tailwinds, spinning a smaller gear against headwinds, and coasting down hills. So for now, I'll live with a little complexity.

I don't know when, but soon, I'll yearn for more soulful, simpler ways. When I do, it will be an easy...uh...fix.