We’re now safe from terrorists and human rights violations

The feds have finally protected our borders.  Thousands of people have been approached for identification which resulted in their arrest for being in the U.S. illegally.  On television tonight one saw the cuffs going on and the paddy-wagon being loaded.

Meanwhile, human rights violations are being purged.

Only a few problems with this scenario.  The illegal immigrants are being caught at the Canadian border with the U.S. while the human rights violations are those imagined by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton (who’s reported it to the United Nations) in the sovereign State of Arizona where the State is trying to stop the dangerous illegal immigrants crossing from the border with Mexico — where the feds won’t do it!  I guess they’re too busy protecting us from French Canadians.  Good thing. French is harder to learn than is Spanish.

Speaking of the border with Mexico. Remember the mass grave with 72 bodies found? Of 31 who had initially been identified, NONE were from Mexico. They weren’t from Canada either. Try Guatemala, Honduras, and other countries.

How your Facebook friends can know WHERE you’re doing what you should not be doing ….

So, everyone’s excited about the new Facebook Places, right? The Facebook service that lets you check-in, Foursquare style, at whatever hip Sushi bar/bicycle repair shop you happen to be in. Oh, and also other people can check you in, too.

via The First Thing You Should Do With Facebook Places: Don’t Let Other People Tag You.

This is a “must read” sort of article. Ignore at your own peril.

Forrest Gump on two wheels

Call me crazy if you wish, but first answer this.  When does 3 or 4 become 21? Easy. When via email several groups of bicyclists get cross-pollinated and the word spreads, then by 7am on a Saturday morning, 21 riders show up. What a herd that was with riders all the way from me on a bike barely a month up to triathletes who just blew us away. My partner in pedaling Don has already blogged the details so I’ll be more brief than usual (yes, I CAN be brief!).

The route was Marble Falls to the Burnet area via Mormon Mill Road a/k/a CR340, then back on CR330 and CR335 into Mormon Mill Road again and return to beginning. The highest single day I had done previously was 18 miles so the 32.3 miles was scary to think about but turned out to be quite enjoyable. The return was really a downhill run for the most part as shown on this profile:

Click for larger image

The elevation peaks where CR330 branches westward on CR335 and while there are some gentle climbs along the way, it’s mostly downhill until … The Hill. If you’ve ever driven out Mormon Mill Road you know exactly where it is!

On the return trip only a couple of miles before The Hill, we were making nice progress up a modest hill at, I thought, a decent pace when a group blew by us on the climb. Hmmm, odd, it was Keith, Mario, Denise, and I’m not sure who else and why are they just now catching up to us?  Keith came around me, reached out with one hand while climbing, slapped me on the shoulder and shouted “way to go judge” and pedaled onward.

We all wound up at the starting point and discovered why they were just then “catching up” to us … they were finishing 47 miles (to our 32) and in a sense had “lapped” us. Fine riders they are.

The stats, always the stats:

  • Mileage:  32.3
  • Avg. speed:  12.5 mph moving (overall 10.9)
  • Heart rate avg/max:  125/173
  • Total time: 2:58
  • Calories burned:  1946

OK, call me crazy, but I’m hooked on this cycling.  Gotta keep going.

Thanks, Lady Bird

On the way to church it hit me:  I could take Jennifer to Austin to her “girl party” and take the bike down to the trails along Lady Bird Lake a/k/a Town Lake and Zilker Park. So I raced home from church (gotta admit I ducked right after communion), jumped into my riding togs, attached the bike rack to the trusty Chevy Avalanche and strapped on the Peugeot Triathlon steed for yet another 2-wheeled adventure. “Lady Bird” refers, of course, to Lady Bird Johnson.

I parked at the West Riverside Drive lot near the Zachary Scott Theater and jumped onto the trail. It is mostly fine gravel and not at all “squirrelly” under the narrow road tires. Still, I would have preferred a mountain bike for its wider tire and surer footing.

A beautiful feature of the trail is the sylvan canopy protecting most of it

In places the trail has concrete sections and bridges over gulleys, and in several places crosses Barton Creek. In fact, at one point I got disoriented due to having set my GPS to show the track as “up” instead of North being “up” and was going West when I should have been going East. Fortunately I had marked my starting point on the Garmin Oregon GPS — a habit from hiking.

I was excited to get on this trail. It was there, in part, when I last lived in Austin (circa 1975) but has since been extensively developed. There were quite a few people out walking, running, sweating, huffing and puffing, and riding quite a variety of bikes. I need to have a “warning device” next time though, as it is necessary to let people know you are coming as you overtake a runner or walker. At least you should, although I did not hear anyone else doing it. There were mothers with jogging strollers and fathers with their little sons on tiny bicycles.

Downtown Austin from Lady Bird Lake trail
Paddlers on Barton Creek along Lady Bird trail

The scenery varies from glimpses of downtown Austin to watery vistas along the creek. I pedaled all the way to just below Barton Springs Pool where the freeloaders were enjoying the cold (a constant 68 degrees) water where it exits the pool.  

I think I would enjoy kayaking here as well, as these people obviously were. For part of the ride I ventured out into Zilker Park along its roadway in order to get a bit more of a workout, and to see if possibly the radio controlled airplanes still flew in the park. I had taken my children there in the early 70’s and saw some marvelous craft that would later inspire me to try my hand at RC flying — loved it, but alas, one can have only so many hobbies.

As exercise the outing was marginal but it was a truly enchanting time. The mileage was a mere 4.91 miles, good for 671 calories burned from a heart rate avg/max of 121/148.

So thanks Lady Bird,  for being the inspiration and motivation for this wonderful place.

Flat-landers conquering the Hill Country

(update:  after an extensive email repartee, the Llano-Castell route has now been officially named  Tour de Longneques — in recognition of one of the prime goals thereof, Lone Star Longnecks!) (further update — GPX file of the route and of this ride).

The morning haze from the constant humidity and warm mornings was just breaking as we got underway from Llano. With a mere 44 miles on the Peugeot, 17 of it just yesterday, three “Boys from Big Spring” and three friends set off to Castell, the little hideaway on the Llano River. With the promise of 18.1 miles of hilly fun ahead, I had loaded the water bottle with Elete electrolyte drops and the Osprey Raptor 14 with about 1.5 liters of water. Serious, experienced riders will scoff at this adventure but for us rookies it promised to be a challenge.

The “Boys from Big Spring” include me, Don Bynum (check out his excellent addendum and more photos of the trek) and Eric Brewster, members of the Steers graduating class of 1962. Big Spring is, of course, in the middle of the very flat West Texas. We grew up as flat-landers.

Don is retired up on Lake Buchanan and enjoying cycling and sailing (and now, having been corrupted by me, kayaking), while Eric is an elementary school principal in Waxahachie. As Don has previously written, he and Eric have been riding some (and Don, a lot). They have even done this ride recently. Add Eric’s superintendent Tom, Don’s friend Doug and my friend David and we had a real entourage. Don’s wife Peggy and Jennifer would tag along as support vehicles.

We had quite a variety of bikes.  Don is on a 3-wheel recumbent, and Eric on a 2-wheel recumbent. Tom and Doug both had fairly new, modern machines while David and I were on fairly ancient, but capable equipment.

We met at the historic Llano Courthouse
Here I am, all nattily attired and ready to ride.

I stoked the fires with a short stack at Atwoods and then Jen and I headed for Llano. Getting there first, I had plenty of time to check out the bike and get all of my equipment ready. The courthouse grounds were beautiful in the early morning light.

Doug checks out the classic Peugeot Triathlon

Doug was just back from vacationing in Colorado and riding in cool mountain air. He looked to me to be an experienced rider and that turned out to be the case. He found these puny “hills” to be merely a bit of a warmup.

Peggy assist Don readying the Catrike

I had not previously seen the Catrike up close and personal. It’s quite a contraption. I have to admit being jealous of the 28 gears. It looked really good going up the hills as I struggled in the higher gear ratios. But hey, it’s exercise, not a race!

David, Don, Doug, Gil, Tom, Eric (L-R)

Don looks like he's asleep

We finally got gathered up with all the tires aired, water bottles ready, chase vehicles prepared, cell phones at the ready for possible 911 calls for this geezer-brigade of the three 66-year olds trying to re-capture their frittered-away youths. And thus we began to Pedal Into Perdition.

The route from Llano is Westerly on Hwy 152 along the Llano River. I’ve ridden that route many times with ease but today would be different because, you see, on those prior occasions the ride was astride my trusty Beemer, a BMW R1100RT touring motorcycle resplendent with the power of 90 horses pulling me along. A recreational cyclist in excellent shape can make about 1/2 horsepower, but not over a long period of time.

Typical view of the route

It’s the upstream direction, thus generally uphill (see the elevation profile below). It’s a beautiful road that everyone should experience sometime. It was already 83 degrees when we started off and climbed to over 100. Even in the throes of an incipient drought the countryside still bore a lot of green.

Doug and Tom on a downhill
Don flies by on the Catrike

We got spread out pretty quickly. Doug and Tom charged out right away while David and I hung back with Don and Eric around the middle. I liked being near Don with his tall flag wagging in the breeze.  We had a great ride. Hot and hilly.  Struggled on some of the steeper hills and wished we had started earlier, but overall it was a fun time. Did we flat-landers conquer the Hill Country? Hardly, but we’re working on it!

The dip at the end is worth the ride

Here is one reason for the ride! The water was surprisingly warm, I’d guess at least 80 degrees, but compared to the heat we had just escaped it was delightful! The stream flow was such that I had to find a rock to hang onto while minnows nibbled at my toes. We marveled at the beauty of the area as if we had never been there before. It’s always that way when I get outdoors.

(a postscript) Getting outside and doing this with friends is something I’ve come to live for after years spent in offices and courtrooms. I once wrote a piece entitled “God rides a motorcycle” and it is now clear to me that he also rides a bicycle — but I’m sure it’s a 2-wheeler and not that 3-thingy-contraption.  It was interesting in church this morning that the sermon was on tending to your vineyard and appreciating your connection to God’s creation.  I felt quite “connected” yesterday!

Ready for the BBQ
You might be a redneck if ...

The “Big Spring Boys” finished with the dip and were ready for the next reason for the ride: the BBQ.  And since this is Castell, it’s a bit of redneck heaven. Note the “hog pen” sign just beyond the front of the rather “interesting” truck.  The BBQ is great at Randy Leifeste’s General Store and we all enjoyed it along with a couple of adult beverages that I saw crossing lips.

As always, there are the stats. Total mileage was 18.1, avg/top speed 9.7/25.7. Heart rate avg/max 140/164. A bit over 1000 calories burned. Activity documentation PDF for the Castell ride is in this file. It shows a bit less mileage because I forgot to start the Timer on the FR305. The Garmin Oregon showed 18.2 miles, 10mph avg speed, 1:52:09 total time. And the GPS profile is pretty interesting. It really shows the undulating progress in the overall steady climb. The elevation at the start is 1096 feet MSL and at the end is 1242. Not much, it seems. But the Garmin FR305 tracks total ascent (487 ft) and descent (322 ft).

Take a friend to work

No kidding. It’s a great idea. I took a friend to work today, spent almost 1-3/4 hours of quality time with just the two of us.  Went to Burnet together and the drive, just at good daylight was beautiful. The temperature was already 76 degrees. As we took the “back way” up Mormon Mill Road the lazy rays of sun were beginning to paint the hills among the streamers painted by the hazy humidity laid into the valleys.

Deer were moving and it was just cool enough to ignore the drought that it seems to be engulfing us yet again. In the open air the tweeting and chirping of birds could be heard. Dove were cooing in the distance.  Open air? Wait, how could that be?

Continue reading “Take a friend to work”

The gauntlet is down!


–noun: a medieval glove, as of mail or plate, worn by a knight in armor to protect the hand . . .

— Idioms:  take up the gauntlet, to accept a challenge to fight

Also:  A form of punishment or torture in which people armed with sticks or other weapons arrange themselves in two lines facing each other and beat the person forced to run between them.

All of the definitions fit, including the idiomatic usage. Although the armor will be far less than a coat of mail, the challenge has been accepted.  Hopefully, the “form of punishment or torture” will not come to fruition, but it is possible. Naturally, there are opponents involved. Enter Don, and he who may well be his co-conspirator, Eric.  Do I have but a single opponent in combination, or two?  Or none?  Or will they instead simply be my victims?  The challenge has been made for a bike ride (remember, I’m accustomed to bikes with motors) twice the distance I’ve done before and I, foolishly perhaps, have promised to ride them into the ground.

Don writes a great blog what often includes Eric as a central character, and what a character he is. The weapons of choice are:  bicycles. Well, bikes AND trikes.  Don rides a Catrike and Eric a “sort of” bicycle, a Sun EZ-SPORT recumbent which has the “proper” number of wheels.  Mine is the traditional 2-wheeler with the skinny little (read:  butt-busting) seat that Don and Eric are smart enough to have eschewed long ago.  But hey guys, it takes a real man to ride it!

The variety is even greater in that Don’s has 27 speeds and Eric’s 24. My machine? A mere 12. So they have the gear ratio advantage in spades and this difference may evolve the battle into punishment or even torture.  That and the fact that Don has been on the cycles for a long, long time (I would call him and olde farte but we’re about the same age!), as written in his blog. And Eric has recently gotten into practice as well with a trek to Castell and another with his co-conspirator in DeLeon at the Melon Patch Tour.

The taunts have been issued. The battleground is the road from Llano to Castell, a repeat of this ride.  The day is this Saturday.  The challenge:  Pedal Into Perdition.  They will be crushed … I think.

My 100 mile run

At last! The Couch-to-5k program was the beginning. I got off the couch and completed the 9-week program at which point I could run the 3 miles.  Wanting additional guidance and inspiration, I designed an additional running schedule for 16 weeks of training using the Runner’s World Smart Coach. But that was too slow and I happened to be reading Born to Run(1) which is about ultrarunners who run 100+ mile races, which I found to be quite inspirational (while clearly demonstrating the ability of the human to run like that); therefore, being convinced that I could run like that, I set out to do so.

After all, I had basically taught myself to ride enduro bikes and later to snow ski by visualizing and mentally rehearsing the activity. So after reading Born to Run and visualizing every step, I knew I was ready. So away I went.

Well, visualizing worked for four miles and that was fine because I had to be in court by 8:30  🙂

But I did the four miles at the same pace that last Friday I had done three miles (11:45 min./mile) and only had to pause to walk very briefly three times. Total of 6.04 miles with the warmup and return home later, with 789 calories burned. Fastest pace was 10 min/mile and the heartrate was avg/max of 145/170 for the 3-mile segment.

(1) Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Knopf, 2009. ISBN 0307266303)