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?

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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.