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.

The wheel was truly an amazing invention

“Duh” says everyone. “What’s the big deal? Everyone knows that.”  But do we “intuit” it?  Look around you at all the wheels in your life. Car, baby carriage, gears in your watch (yes, grandchildren, there were and are watches with gears and levers that go tick-tock), and on and on. It is unclear which culture actually invented the wheel but there is evidence of wheeled vehicles dating from the 4th millennium BC. There is “the” wheel and then there are devices with multiple wheels.  So? “Where is he going with this,” you ask.

Take, for example, a second wheel in line with the first, add a wheel with sprockets in between the two wheels on the ground, and a way to turn that sprocketed wheel, then add another sprocketed wheel to the second wheel on the ground and a way to connect them (a chain should do) and you have … a bicycle. Now add one or more additional sprockets to the driven sprockets and a handful to the rear one and you have … a multi-speed bicycle!  And with such a contraption it was that four of us set off this morning down a wonderful lane known locally as Mormon Mill Road for an early morning ride. It was fairly short, but yet the longest ride yet on my newly acquired wheeled and sprocketed device.

Peugeot Triathlon 12 speed

It’s a Peugeot Triathlon (similar to this one, I think) donated to my exercise program by my friend Don who has better sense than to place his posterior on those skinny little seats. However, with my recent addition of Pearl Izumi riding shorts (you know, those really “defining” leg-huggers) with copious quantities of foam padding, it’s doable. Thanks, Don!

My friend Keith connected me with Guy about a ride Saturday morning. Should I worry? You see, Keith is a tri-athlete and I had to wonder if he was sand-bagging me into a ride way over my head. The longest I had ridden was seven miles and Mormon Mill Road — the route — goes to Burnet. That’s 13 miles. And back is 26. Turns out that Guy is a weekend rider and with his two friends, Lexey and Sherry, away we went.

Lexey, Sherry center-rear, Guy

It was important for me to get in some miles because Don — one and the same — has myself and Eric (another Big Spring High classmate) slotted for a Llano to Castell ride soon. That’s 19 miles … with hills. The Mormon Mill Road would be good training as it too has hills.  It was a plus that these new-found riding companions were amiable and fun to be with.

It turns out that one of the group had to be elsewhere sooner than anticipated (read: shorter than 26 miles round trip) and we ended up making only 14 total miles …

Profile of the ride

… including the hills, of course. That’s the round trip you see.  And on the topo it looks like this:

Mormon Mill Track

It’s a great place to ride, not too much traffic, surface is decent, and the scenery is tremendous. I was pleased with the results of the ride as I still had plenty of steam left when we got back. I feel that I could have done the total trip to Burnet and back just fine and thus can now look forward to the Llano-Castell trek with something short of fear and trepidation!  I have to keep telling myself that I’m no longer 34 … a harsh reality indeed.

Although a short ride, it was a decent workout nonetheless. My Garmin Forerunner 305 combined with the Sporttracks software accumulates a lot of data and produces a nice report for analytical purposes. Here is a PDF file of the report: bicycle-mormon-mill-sportrack. Interesting for data-nerds. I confess.  Heartrate avg/max was 124/167, Speed avg/max 9.8/24.2.  I can assure you that 24mph on those skinny tires will take some getting used to!  Calories burned:  771 which was all the justification I need in order to stop by Atwoods for one of Mrs. Sivells wonderful apricot “fried” (baked) pies!

Bottom line? I’m hooked on the cycling as much as I’ve gotten hooked on the running. I hope I can continue to run also, but with everyone around me having “knee stories” it does make me cautious — well, maybe a little cautious.

See, I told you that the wheel was a marvelous invention!

I would be remiss if I did not mention Mormon Mill proper. It is an historical site of a Mormon Colony founded in the mid-1800’s. As a youngster visiting my grandparents in Marble Falls I often swam in the mill pond.  It is all in private hands now and not open to the public, which is a shame. The last time I saw the pond was while performing a wedding ceremony there — that was fun!  The web has a lot of information about Mormon Mill, including an article here.

Marble Falls Tri-Athlon

We had two of my groups supporting the Tri-Athlon today. We had several motorcyclists from my so-called m/c “gang” (we have an email list named Psycle, derived from the fact that for me motorcycling is a psychiatric event), and ham radio operators from our local Highland Lakes Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) group (sponsored in part by the Highland Lakes Amateur Radio Club). ARES, the Amateur Radio Emergency Services® is a function of the Amateur Radio Relay League. Also joining our local hams were a number of folks from the far East:  Georgetown and Hutto, from the Sun City Amateur Radio Society!  A full list of the participants is below.

ARES units participate in events of this nature in order to practice and sharpen our skills in the event of an actual communications emergency where the normal modes — telephones, cell phones, public service and law enforcement — of communication may fail. Amateur Radio is not simply another hobby, but is an avenue to life-saving public service.  Emergency communications is a large part of our public service fulfilling the motto “When all else fails … Amateur Radio works.”

The MF Tri-A consists of a 1k swim, 23 mile bike ride out Hwy 71 inclusive of some killer hills, and a 4.4 mile run down Pecan Valley and thereabouts. The motorcyclists and mobile hams serve to buffer the bicyclists against traffic since the route takes them on some busy highways, including US 281 between Marble Falls and the TX71 interchange. The mobile hams can also pick up a rider who has broken down or is injured. One of the motorcyclists is also a ham and had communications on his bike while the other motorcyclists had cell phone access back to me as the Net Control Station where I could then dispatch a ham in a vehicle to assist. I think there were seven transports, one of which was for a crash resulting in some serious road rash.

Here’s a great shot by Jim Wreyford of the swim course.

Swim at the Tri-Athlon (click for bigger)

For me the highlight of the day was the courage and sheer “guts” shown by one female who finished way last, but finished. When she made the biking 1/2 point turnaround, the lead runner had already finished! His time must have been around 1-1/2 hours total, and the gal’s was around four hours. She was walking at the last as I followed her in but by golly she finished! Another runner (seemingly not in the competition) had hooked up with her and no doubt was a lot of encouragement. I followed them in to be sure the runner was ok, and could see her buddy talking, gesturing a lot, obviously very animated. I think the distraction and encouragement probably helped. Like Marc Bittner say: 90% of it is half mental!

The hams and motorcyclists participating were:

Thanks to all of  these guys for giving up their Sunday. Some came from a long way off, and had a very early start to boot.

I’m working on detailed stats, but my guess is that a total (not including to/from the event) of 45 human hours was involved using radio equipment worth a total of  $1500-3000 (plus vehicles) and motorcycles worth a total of at least $75,000.  PLUS, Jim Wreyford, K5JSW, checked in as Air Mobile and overflew the swim but did not spot anyone who needed to be rescued! I have no idea how to value his airplane   🙂
Here’s another perspective of support for the Tri-Athlon, and actually demos something that amateur EmComm operations can include. Jim’s GPS track in the air. You can see where he covered the course.

Jim's track

International tennis in Marble Falls

Little ol’ Marble Falls, Texas and its surrounding communities have the chance to have a world-class international tennis center. Some of us last night played in or helped host an event for the Andy Roddick Foundation‘s First Annual Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament.  The Daybreak Rotary Club of Marble Falls provided help for registration and refreshments while Rotarian John Arthur Martinez (himself a tennis star of years past) provided musical entertainment during the social hour prior to commencement of play by some very serious poker players.

The goal locally of the ARF is to build a super tennis center that will create a teaching and playing opportunity for area youth. There is a lot of tennis in the Highland Lakes as can be seen from the Highland Lakes Tennis site.  Some details follow below.

If you don’t follow tennis, you need to know that Roddick is ranked internationally (#6 at the moment) and is the leader of the U.S. Davis Cup team going into the first matches next week. The center envisioned for the Castlerock Texas area sandwiched between Cottonwood Shores and Horseshoe Bay will be a tremendous resource for underprivileged kids and all the youth playing tennis in the area, as well as providing an international destination for the area.

Andy’s parents and brother were present for the event last night and everyone appeared to be having a great time. Much work remains to be done but the goals are worth everyone’s efforts and contributions.

The fund-raiser and goals were talked about on the ARF page (note: original date of November as discussed in the article had to be changed):

Charity Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament

September 29, 2008

The Andy Roddick Foundation announced that it will host the First Annual Charity Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament on Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 6PM at the La Quinta Inn and Suites in Marble Falls, Texas (501 Highway 2147, Marble Falls, TX 78654) to help raise funds to build the Andy Roddick Foundation (ARF) International Tennis Center in CastleRock, Texas.

“Our goal is to raise significant funds to begin building the ARF International Tennis Center, said David Holder, Director of Fund Raising for the ARF International Tennis Center in CastleRock, Texas. We are really excited about the Texas Hold’Em tournament, and looking forward to a successful event,” added Holder.

The ARF International Tennis Center, which is planned to sport a retractable shading system as well as the greenest building practices, will serve as the hub training facility for the Andy Roddick Foundation Youth Tennis Programs from around the world. The ARF provides at risk youth the opportunity to learn the game of tennis and to compete on local, state and national levels. The programs will combine weekly tennis instruction, mentoring for college, and nutritional counseling to help eliminate the crisis of diabetes and obesity among the youth of America.

Top ranked American tennis star Andy Roddick, 26, founded his foundation at the young age of 17 when he realized that he was in a position to positively influence the lives of many children. On October 3, 2007, his foundation implemented his youth tennis program in San Antonio in cooperation with the Rene Lacoste Foundation, The USTA Tennis and Education Fund, Our Lady of the Lake University and The Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio. On June 2, 2008 the foundation launched the first tennis program in the Hill Country in cooperation with the Boys and Girls Club of the Highland Lakes.

A donation to the Andy Roddick Foundation of only $250.00 gets you a seat to play in the “First Annual Charity Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament”, and Texas size bragging right for the winner!

Texas Hold’Em tournament first-place prize will be for two complimentary tickets to see Sir Elton John in a private concert in Austin, Texas with Andy Roddick and friends. The second-place winner will receive two tickets to the U.S. OPEN in New York, NY and the third-place winner receives a flat screen television.

Please help us continue our efforts to help Andy’s children by becoming a corporate sponsor of the “First Annual Charity Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament”, donating a silent auction item or by playing in this exciting event. You may sign up in the proshop online or for further information or to sign up to play contact David Holder, Director of Fund Raising at (830) 832.2799 or You may also mail entry fee in the amount of $250.00 per player to David Holder, Andy Roddick Foundation, P.O. Box 8040 Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657. Please make check payable to the Andy Roddick Foundation.

Via (accessed 3/1/09)

and also Andy Roddick Foundation building tennis center

December 17, 2007

The Andy Roddick Foundation wants to help perfect the tennis moves of young people through a planned tennis center in the Texas Hill Country.

The Roddick foundation, along with CastleRock Texas, the city of Cottonwood Shores and the Marble Falls Community Tennis Association, are working on building an $8.2 million tennis complex on Ranch Road 2147 in Cottonwood Shores.

The building, named the Andy Roddick Foundation International Tennis Center, will serve as a training ground for the Andy Roddick Youth Tennis Program, which gives at-risk youth the opportunity to learn the game and compete.

Click here to read the full article at

Via (accessed 3/1/09)