Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wayside Breakfast

Harberson Road is a short east/west gravel road. It connects two paved county roads, and provides access to only a couple of homes, so it is very lightly traveled. It is less than a mile long, but seems miles from anywhere.

On the south edge of Harberson Road is an elevated "bench" about 3 feet higher than the road. On that bench at one of the hilltops, is a quiet place with a pleasant view. A good place for hot coffee and sunrise watching on a chilly morning.

With a thermos slipped into my saddlebag, I pedaled out into the darkness. Seeing the red eastern horizon, I selected an indirect route to my destination that would allow me to carefully time my arrival.

Just right.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Observant Recruit

The recruit joined me for a frosty, but unusually sunny Saturday morning ride. Because I can see his potential, I joked that I was not going to coach him.

We did the same route today that we did last time, but he said it was much easier today. Surprised, I asked how that could be. He said he was watching me and my cadence as we climbed some of the larger rollers, imitated my gear selection, and it made all the difference.

I think, he thinks, that I think, he was flattering me as the wise teacher. Not so. I know what he was really doing was trying to get inside my head. He learns fast, this recruit. I wonder if he plans to back up his mind tricks with some saddle time.

If he plans to continue to observe and imitate me, he'll need it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cash's Mill Dog Drills

On a chilly, cloudy February afternoon, the Cash's Mill Road farm dogs were curled up tight and napping. A blustery northwest wind was sweeping across the north Texas prairie, nipping noses, tails, and toes exposed. There wasn't a sound, except icy air whistling across barbed wire. Then came a bicycle.

Then came the farm dogs. Maybe they weren't sleeping all that well. Maybe they were bored. Maybe a heated chase, punctuated with emphatic barking, would warm up their insides. From under porches they came. From beds beside pickup trucks, from downwind of the propane tank, and from behind the hay bale they came. We all know the drill.

So into the wind they drilled. They chased, and the bicycle rider lowered his head and lifted the pace. The subtle sounds of the wind was swallowed up in labored breathing, staccato barks, and paw nails tapping on rough county road asphalt. Beyond the sequence of farm dog territories, silence returned, but this is a 2-rep drill. The bicycle turned around and headed downwind.

Then came the farm dogs. Maybe they didn't make it back to their beds. Maybe they'd already recovered from the sprint. Maybe they were stretched out, warmed up and ready. From under porches they came. From beds beside pickup trucks, from downwind of the propane tank, and from behind the hay bale they came. We all know the drill.

At startling speed they drilled. With a tailwind they chased, and the bicycle rider lifted his head, coasted, and lightly braked to keep the pace just within their interest. Farm dogs labored, and barked as they drilled. The bicycle rider laughed. How long can he keep a farm dog running?

Farm dogs turn around and walk into the icy wind, for a good long way, back to their naps.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Home Again

I'll be brief.

Back home after a whirlwind tour of Texas, early start, relatively warmer temps in the low 50s, 3 hours of fixed wheel wandering back roads, some new to me.

If you are a fan of the bicycle, I'll leave it to you to mentally insert your own blissful adjectives. If you are not, you probably wouldn't get it anyway.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Homer Does Singletrack

I could barely hear the dull roar of the IH-45 traffic through the dense pine forest. It was like a dull, but lingering, memory, reminding me of my sudden good fortune.

Under mostly grey skies, there were rare moments of celebration when golden light appeared through the trees.

The twisty singletrack was littered with exposed tree roots. The climbs were short, but steep, and my A. Homer Hilsen handled them well. Shifting into gears lower than I normally use, I picked my lines with patience, precision, and ease. I was surprised at how well the Col de la Vie 650b tires worked even in shallow sandy and muddy areas. I remember thinking, that if I were encountered conditions that required a different bicycle, I’m not sure I’d be interested in riding a bicycle there anyway.

As I wandered deeper into the woods, and farther from the interstate, I remember climbing one of the longer climbs. I remember only the sound of my breathing as I rolled silently on a pine needle pathway, only to be startled by the sudden sound of my freewheel after reaching the crest.

It wasn’t about winning the race. It wasn’t about fitness or speed. It was about wandering through the woods on a refreshingly cool winter day. It was like hiking, but with more “flow”.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chilly Austin Morning

What is the opposite of too many stuffy meetings, too much over-portioned restaurant food, and relentless urgency?

I'll give you a hint. It is why I drive, and not fly, on as many business trips as practical.

Still pondering? For correct answer, see photos of a crisp winter morning in Austin below. All photos taken during what motorists call "rush hour".

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Familiar Places/New Surroundings

Finishing the last cup of coffee, and waiting for the temperature to rise above 32 degrees, I looked outside and wondered where I was. Inside my own house, looking out my own window, it was confusing.

When the thermometer read 32.5, the rolling investigation began.

It was familiar, but new. I was disoriented, but could somehow navigate the way.

I didn't need to go far to see completely new places.

The record snowfall in these parts has caused problems. Many have been without power for days. We, fortunately, have maintained the comforts of our home. The old shed shown above, however, suffered a roof collapse.

This old foundation, though on one of my most traveled routes, never really stood out to me.

Riding today demonstrated how many new things can be seen when viewed from a fresh perspective.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Front Yard

Because it doesn't look like this very often, that's why.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Short One

Targeting comfort, a short time outdoors, and a easy leg stretcher, I grabbed the upright cruiser and navigated the 3-mile loop. The mish-mash of bare tree limbs on another grey day seemed more interesting in black and white.

On the other hand, the rich shades of brown provided an organic warm contrast to those same steely bare limbs.

Then it started to rain, and the 3-mile loop was sufficient for today.