Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Last Florida Sunrise

Well, this is my last sunrise in Florida, but I couldn't be happier.

I am looking forward to being back with my wife, who is even prettier than this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Morning Glory

...and the wise praise Him.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where Am I Now

This morning, me and my neighbor's cows were gathered at my back fence admiring the sunrise.

This evening, I stood staring at the Atlantic Ocean from a hotel trying to wrap my mind around the culture shock.

It's pretty, but it ain't home.

Where To Ride

After my last post, Tex69 left a comment indicating an interest in where some of my photos originate. Because he asked, and because I have blog-friends in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that might be interested, I figured I'd drop in a quick post with a map.

View Larger Map

My little house on the prairie is a little north of that little cross-roads labeled "Bolivar". In fact, you might need to zoom in some to find the crossing roads.

There are no epic climbs, and no screaming twisty descents. There are no ocean views, or mountain top vistas. There is only pasture land, slightly rolling terrain, and quiet county roads. Some are paved, some are not. It might not be everybody's favorite place to ride a bicycle, but it suits me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Flexibility Pays

Cruising north on SH 51, something caught my eye. I turned and noticed a double-track path off the highway. I'm sure I've seen it before. I've traveled this route many times. At first glance it appears to be a private drive. Rolling to a stop, I took a closer look. Maybe it's a road.
This was not my intended route for the morning, but it warranted investigation.
It seemed longer than a private drive.
Before long, it was apparent that I was riding on a network of very lightly traveled county roads.
I never made it to my original destination, but flexibility allowed me to discover a whole new area of unexplored countryside. Perfect for someone with a good country bike.

I wonder where we might find someone like that...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Sunrise

I'm still enjoying the early Sunday morning wanderings through the neighborhood.

It's so quiet, it seems like it is just me and amazing light.

As if God made it just for me to enjoy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nearby, But New

It is odd that I crave new sights and experiences, but seem to ride the same roads repeatedly. One reason, I suppose, is that there really are numerous pleasant routes nearby. However, with a desire to avoid posting the same photos over and over again (no matter how much they might entertain me personally), it seems I'd venture into new areas. In reality, I've probably covered almost all routes that are very near my house. Still, there was at least one left out.

I found a nice grass road


More grass road

Wanted to keep waiting for the crash

One fork leading to a pasture

No longer useful, but for us tourists

Another fork leading to a different pasture

Too small for a house or barn

I probably shouldn't be here

Time to head back home

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Due Time

In due time, the Clear Creek watershed is refreshed like a weary man at the end of his work. The pasture grass exults, and its song praises the Provider.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Test

Approximately 2 years ago, I rode into town and noticed that car enthusiasts had taken over the courthouse square. I described a conversation I had with a friend of mine, and shared photos of a red pick-up because it tied-in so nicely with that conversation. Today, the enthusiasts were back. Even in the drizzly conditions, they had some attractive goods. The photos today are for you, Keith.

This morning was a test, really. After my comments a few days ago about enough is enough, and pushing myself to stretch-out some of my rides, Saturday morning showed up with rain in the forecast. In fact, the forecast called for flooding. Would I curl up with a book, or hit the road? Since I'm not inclined to document my failures, your guess that I passed the test would be a good one.

I have a bike with fenders to (in theory) be able to ride in rainy conditions. In practice, I've learned that my corner of the north Texas prairie doesn't often get gobs of rain, and that it is really fairly easy to find something else that needs to be done when it is raining. Like maybe that book I mentioned.

I've also learned that a flood watch in my current geography carries a different meaning than it does along the Texas Gulf coast. Along the coast, a 30-40 percent chance of rain means it will rain. Here, a flood watch means, there's a great chance that it'll be cloudy, and it might rain. So even though I took precautions to keep my electronics dry and hit the road, I'm not really that hard-core.

Actually, it was all quite pleasant. I started out just as the sky lightened a bit. I pedaled quietly over wet roads, listening to my tire tread separate moisture from the road like an opening zipper. It did rain, but not much. I encountered light drizzle to light rain. It was just enough to supplement that zipper sound with an irregular percussion rhythm on my helmet, glasses, and the map holder of my front bag. It was so different from the intense heat and brightness of the summer sun as to be refreshingly pleasant.

So this morning was only a test in one sense. It wasn't a test of my fitness, skill, or courage. It wasn't a test to determine if I'm a hard-core rider. It was a test to see if I've learned the lesson that has been taught to me repeatedly. It was a test to determine whether I have faith that going out for a rainy 3+ hour ride would be rewarding.

I am thankful I passed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pre-Dawn Pass Hunting

Sometimes one must make do with what one has. If I lived in a mountainous area, or had the where-with-all to travel, I'd probably not be able to resist this bicycling cult. But I don't. No sense whining about it. I'll just work with what I have.

What I typically have is an hour or so, before work, in the dark. What I also have is what I call the "barely rolling" terrain of northwest Denton County, Texas, where the elevations range from about 600 to 1000 feet above sea level. Let's make the best of it.

This morning's plan was to leave my house and go bag a couple of passes. That's right, I said TWO passes in one day. It was quite an adventure. Since it was black dark when I left and black dark when I returned, there are no photos. Just trust me. Oh yeah, those of you who live on more irregular terrain, please keep your snickers and ridicule to yourselves. I'm doing the best I can, remember?

Rolling out into the darkness at 5:30 am was excellent because the heat of the summer sun was nowhere to be found. The coolness of 75 degrees was bliss.

As soon as I reached FM 2450, I began to climb. In fact, there is a slight climb from my drive to the highway. We'll neglect that and just say this adventure begins at the highway adjacent to my house at elevation 777.

After climbing gradually for a few minutes, I had made excellent progress toward the elevation of highest pass of the day. Unfortunately, all of that elevation gain, and more, was lost before I reached the actual base of the climb. The actual climb to the crest at 858 feet was probably more like 100 feet of elevation gain. If you get in a nice groove, the climb is over before you know it.

Still having some time and energy left over, I headed to another nearby pass. This one peaks at 802 feet. It isn't as long or as high, but it is a bit steeper. Because I'm too lazy to downshift on this one, it usually involves standing. It's nice to stretch occasionally. By the time, my legs feel a need to rest, I'm over the crest.

It was quiet, it was dark, and the work day awaited. So I turned around, spun back to my little house on the prairie and smiled. The sun wasn't up yet, but it's already been a good day.

A two-passes-before-breakfast day.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Leg Loosener

Felt just a little stiff this morning after the longer-than-normal-ride. I figured it would be good to get out for a short, easy spin this morning.

It was.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fading Fitness Fixed Wheel Fifty

In the perpetual battle for balance, we regained lost ground today. After too many distractions and excuses, I gave myself the proverbial kick in the pants and worked a little harder. Back in my racer wannabe days, 50-mile rides were routine. But that was back when I was on a strict training regime and had riding partners who pushed me. These days, I ride alone and often ask myself, "Ah...what's the hurry?" I miss my riding buddies and the number of hours in the saddle has been dropping. But enough is enough.

I've learned that riding more makes me feel better. It's a physical and mental thing. So I'm planning to work harder at feeling better. I started today by stretching out my usual 1-2 hour Saturday ride to something more like 4 hours (including short photo stops, a snack, a comfort break, and a bottle refill). In addition, I forced myself to explore a new route, and found a nice one.

I started out just after sunrise, and admired the September blooms.

I headed up to Valley View following one my usual routes which is partially gravel. Please forgive the new photo of the same place I've posted before. I just really like this view.

After Valley View, I found my new route that parallels IH-35 up to Gainesville. Good road, light traffic. I'll be back. After arriving in Gainesville, I started looking for Hwy 51, which is my route back. On the way, I found this hike/bike trail. It seemed to be going my way, so chalk up another good route for future use.

The path is elevated, as if it were a converted railroad embankment.

The hike/bike path dropped me off in downtown Gainesville near this historic train depot.

A good place to pause for refreshment.

Then I made my way down an old red brick street...

...historic buildings, and some interesting painted signs.

Then it was back on Hwy 51, which goes between Gainesville and Decatur. It has a nice, wide shoulder, and several sizable rollers.

At the appropriate spot, I turn off the major highway onto a much smaller county road. When I see these familiar sights, I know I'm almost home.

So it was a fixed wheel, 50-miler, and it was four consecutive days of riding, including 2 days during a business trip. Yep, the battle is surging in the right direction. I might win this thing yet.