Cycling – Tour de Longneques – October Edition

October 23rd dawned with heavy thunderstorms over Burnet County, to the east and south of the Tour de Longneques’ storied route, and more were about 75 miles west of Llano County, but heading northeast.  Since a good percentage of the likely riders come from Marble Falls in southern Burnet County, attendance was less than hoped for, as quite a few riders could not believe that the route of the Tour was dry and was unlikely to become wet for many hours.  But, even with a good many folks who got faked out by the rain, ridership STILL set a new record. 

Hearing a commotion out front, Randy Leifeste, Empresario Extraordinaire, wanders out, spreads his arms and declares something about "let the rains be delayed until afternoon." At least I think it was something sorta like that.

9 of the 16 riders started from Castell - note that have we added a tandem bike to the group, accounting for 2 riders. Still looking for someone on a unicycle to join us.

We had 16 riders, up from 12 in September, which was up from 6 in August, which was up from 2 when Eric Brewster and  I  did it in late July.  Not bad for a militantly unorganized fun ride.  Not bad at all.  Of the 16 riders, 9 started in Castell and road to Llano and back.   7 started in Llano and rode to Castell.  Some of the latter group then rode back to Llano. All but 2 who rode back to Llano did so after Long Necks and brisket. Two rode to Castell, visited for a short while then rode back to Llano without proper Texan nourishment.  As there had been rain upstream and the river looked to be running COLD (but as usual it was crystal clear) none of us braved the waters for a curing soak.

Jim Dawes set the pace a couple of miles out of Castell

close behind Jim, were John and Polly on the Tandem, William Stouffel and Gil Jones

Setting out for Llano, the Castell group quickly saw that Jim Dawes (of San Antonio fame and Big Spring origins) would be tough to stay up with. 

Polly says she is the motor, but John sure looks like he is working.

Sherry gains on Gil as she enjoys her spiffy new bike!

About 2 miles out of town Jim came past  the faithful photographer.   About a minute later John and Polly on the tandem passed by, then came William Stouffel and Gil Jones.  Close behind Gil was Sherry McFarlane. 

Bob passes the first photo station just ahead of Phyllis

Phyllis cruises past.

I had by this point caught Phyllis Terry and Bob Thomas and had Gil and William in sight in the distance at some points. Starting out a couple of minutes behind this time, as I made some last-minute adjustments to my on-board camera mount, I was very encouraged to see the progress Bob was making when I caught him.  Phyllis is accustomed to making rides of this length and had advised that she just cruises and that we should not worry if she falls behind a little.  When over-taking her, I was pushing pretty hard and noted that she held her cadence pretty constant whether going uphill or down.  She knew how to use her gears and maintain an even strain, so I knew she would be fine. 

The spectator's gallery might have shown less interest had she known that the objective of this ride involved brisket.

About half way to Llano and Jim is still grinnin'

William seems to be havin' as much fun as Jim!

Heading for Llano we had a slight tailwind and would descend about 200 feet in elevation from Castell to Llano, so Bob, Phyllis and I were making good time! 

More pictures and fewer words!  Or as a fellow computer geek used to say, “A picture is worth 1K words, which is 24 more than it used to be.”

talk about teamwork and a visual effect! John and Polly show it!

How come Gil looks tired and Sherry is grinnin'. She left him (and me) in the dust shortly after this.

New bikes make happy cyclists!

Bob Thomas blows by with a high-five (and a nervous spectator in the background).

Phyllis goes a-smilin' and a-cruisin' past!

With all the big grins we have seen, one might suspect that Randy Leifeste, empressario supreme of The Castell General Store, had served raw prickly pear cactus burritos for breakfast. 

Around Six Mile Creek, Denise and Dave Rhodes ( of Marble Falls ) came roaring by from Llano so fast that Peggy could not get her camera out to get their picture.  They were the first of the group ( 7 riders!) which had started in Llano a little later than our Castell start.  Not far behind them William Wicker came cruising over the hill heading west, with three more from his travelling group from down around Johnson City and Dave Messer from Llano.

William Wicker heading west from Llano

Not sure if William is doing a scream of triumph as he tops the hill, or expressing some minor concern about these doggone little hills. Or maybe he is practicing his impression of Placido Domingo!

Three more of the riders who started from Llano. Dave Messer, grinning at the front. I have lost the name of the rider to his right, and that extra knee that Dave appears to have is actually attached to William Wicker's buddy Mike

Dave, Mike and the guy whose name I am embarrassed to have forgotten cruise west toward Castell as Jim and Sherry climb out of the valley at Six Mile Creek, heading for Llano and a turn-around back to Castell..

Sorry about the blurry picture. Brenda Wicker on her Greenspeed trike was not far behind the men heading west.

John and Polly, perhaps testing the limits of togetherness on this hill. Actually, when I saw them later they were both grinnin' ear-to-ear, so this must have just been the face of determination.

Gil and I "eyeball" that last little incline visible in the foreground of this picture as we climb east out of Six Mile Creek. That incline is what John and Polly were grinding up in the previous picture.

Phyllis just climbs out of Six Mile Creek Gulch at the same speed she seemed to maintain throughout the ride! She did pass Bob on this climb.

Bob crests the east side of Six Mile Creek Gulch looking like he might be thinking "Hill, what hill?"

Bob caught Phyllis as they approached the Llano Square.  At the square there were a couple of pickers set up with their guitars on the Gazebo.  They had a nice sound which we enjoyed as we took a few minutes to recover then set out on the 18.2 mile ride back to Castell. 

Musicians jamming (western style) on the Llano square. We figured they had heard that the incredibly famous Tour de Longneques was coming through town and came out for our benefit. – thanks to Jim Dawes, for catching this picture then sharing it for the blog.

When you get to Castell, you are right at 200 feet higher than at Llano, but there is a “high point in between that adds another 75 feet or so to the adventure.  Heading toward Castell, the wind was more in our face and had really picked up.  There are no pictures from the return ride, but I did get a few shots of the celebrants as we basked in the warm afternoon breeze and sense of accomplishment at having done our ride.  William Wicker and the three folks with him had only done 18… but then they loaded up and RODE BACK to Llano, on a full load of Long Necks and Brisket so that they could log the full 36! 

In the foreground Dave Messer of Llano demonstrates the proper post-ride grin while Doris clings to the freebie "Where the Hell is Castell" water bottle that El Supremo Leifeste gave each rider. In the background are Mike and Brenda Wicker chatting with John of tandem fame. In the far background Gil Jones looks to refuel at the smoke pit.

Polly (the motor on that tandem) gets a laugh from Dave's explanation of how he survived the ride.

Jim Dawes, our pace setter, is smiling ( the secret handshake of Tour de Longneque riders is a big Texas smile... but don't tell anyone else), having already had a long neck and now changed out of his yeller and black bumble bee riding outfit.


Ready now for serious business of eating Castell General Store brisket, Sherry puts on her game face.

That look in the eyes! Are they thinking about that 18 mile ride back to Llano.

Bob Thomas and Phyllis Terry came rolling in about 10 minutes behind me. I was astounded… Bob had taken over an hour off the time it took him to made the ride ONE WAY when he rode in the September edition of the Tour de Longneques… but this time the time was for a ROUND TRIP!  Way to go Bob!  If you don’t understand why I am making such a big deal about Bob doing this, please read the post on the September 11th Tour de Longneques.  Then you will have some idea what an accomplishment he had on our October ride.

Bob Thomas and Sherry Macfarlane try to explain to the two locals at their table why anyone would go cycling, 36 miles, from Castell to Llano and back if what they were after was long necks and brisket that were already in Castell. Ralph Macfarlane, getting up, was kind enough to do SAG duty along with Peggy and my mother (Mother does it for the Long Necks!).

Phyllis loads the bike prior to going for the curative long necks and brisket.

Phyllis Terry, her husband Bill, Peggy and I get focused on the important stuff.

My old high school classmate and worthy friend Gil Jones has done his own report on the October Tour de Longneques, providing some interesting perspectives.  I recommend checking that out for some good chuckles about the lunacy of 66 year old  ( and some were older ) heading out across the Texas Hill Country in search of validation of our manhood, good cold beer and even better BBQ brisket.  I thought we were all crazy when I looked back, from our forties, at our teenage years.   Whoops!   We are setting new high water marks fairly often these days as we check off items on our bucket list and help buddies do the same on theirs.

I have the good fortune to have both my wife Peggy, and my mother to cheer me on in these bouts of lunacy.  Jim Dawes caught us together at the Tour and snapped a quick picture.  Pride in these two fine women requires that I share that picture.

Ann Bynum (foreground), Peggy Bynum (the younger pretty one) and me enjoying the moment as the October Tour De Longneques begins to wind down.


Y’all come out and ride with us sometime!  It is worth doing. 

I like to keep these posts light, but I gotta share something that has been gnawing at me because of the medical situation of a person I care about a lot.  I dislike most of what I see happening in our government these days and in a couple of weeks maybe we can banish a few members of the permanent political class as a bipartisan effort.  But I dislike even more, what I see of my fellow Americans when I go out in public.  I see too many people who appear to be eating and watching TV for the purpose of becoming miserably ill and dying a relatively long, painful, degrading, and expensive for somebody, death.  Our country can never again be a great economic power, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and oppression by overly powerful governments, as we have for much of our national existence, if our people are chronically sick because they eat the wrong stuff, and plenty of it since this, even today, is relatively a land of plenty.  We avoid real, vigorous, hard exercise, like our whole bodies have evolved to do to survive, though today the mortal threat is on our plate or resting on our couch, rather than lurking in a tree waiting to pounce on us and eat us.  These behaviors are sapping our very vitality as a nation, since we are a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.  We need to change, but we need to change as free individuals pursuing our on reasoned and legal self-interest, not as a herd of folks who the governing elite tell to “shape up.”   

 This week this issue became more personal to me.    This week I got the worrying news that one of my cousins was having a quadruple bypass.  This is the second cousin to go through bypass surgery.  I cannot help but believe that, had I persuaded these two beloved family members to ride long rides with elevated heart rates they might have been spared this painful and risky procedure and the worries that will go on with them always.  Get off your backsides, get out of your car, turn off the TV and walk, ride a bike or swim as hard as is safe for you at your current stage in life.  Maybe don’t eat chicken fried steak with a side of beef enchilladas and a dozen biscuits drenched in fresh butter but maybe once a month.  Think of who you might want to do this for.  I do it for Peggy, for my mother, and for our grandchildren (our boys are gonna be fine whatever I do).  And get out and raise your heart rate and see your neighbors, neighborhood, city, county and state up close and personal on a bike (or as I do in my case, from a Catrike) or in a pair of hiking shoes.  My reasons for cycling, sailing and surviving are:

Anna - Age 4 and yes, she has the tiller and I am very proud of her growing skills.

 Her love of sailing started here.

Steven - Age 2... I told him to watch for pirates to keep him comfortable on his first sailing experience

Now, you decide who you care enough about to change your lifestyle and be able to live a long, healthy, life with few doctor vists to scare everyone silly.  No one else can even help you make that decision.  Don’t do it because I ranted about it (like you would anyway).  Do it for a very few, really important, people in your life.  Only you can know who they should be and whether you care enough about them to get healthy. 

There, I feel better having had my little rant.


26 responses to “Cycling – Tour de Longneques – October Edition

  1. Nice report. Nice rant too. Perhaps someone will pay attention.
    Fun as always,
    de Captain

  2. Pingback: Castell in October — a bicycle odyssey for BBQ and beer | Musings of Captain Justice

  3. Chris Brownbexar

    Well, Don, Done…er, you done good, Don. These are fun and I like the rant. The problem with us more aged cuts of humanity is that we think we can still eat and party like it’s 1969, but like fine Kobe beef, we don’t realize that all of that marbling and pickling is NOT good for those who have a propensity to obesity and heart disease. No one wants to be carved up on a stainless steel table by Doogy Houser. Not everyone can or will commit to the regimen of the Tour de Longneques, but we can and should get off our butts and do at least 30 minutes three times a week of moderate exersize. The best exersize for me are what I call pushbacks. I pushback from the table before I’m full. If I didn’t my BMI would be much higher than the 26 I presently own. Now finally, I want to say to your editor that I’m disappointed that you left out the picture that shows you wearing four shoes that came across faceplant. I’m certain that you were planning some accrobatics on the catrike and wanted to insure that you could land on all fours without introducing asphalt pebbles and goatheads into the seventh layer of your hands. Ok, that was not finally. Here’s finally. In celebration of the one year anniversary of my brother’s quadruple bypass and carotid stent surgery, I’d like to invite the TDL to Missouri for a nice relaxing day or two (perhaps more) ride of the Katy Trail, which is 200 miles of old trainbed from St. Charles, MO to our State Capital. The leaves will be turning, and the hills are gentle. Lots of winery, B&Bs and retaurants along the way. Watch for more next August or so when we get closer. Visit the website for the Katy Trail, and I’ll be scoping our several rides for us to do.

  4. great ride and good new friends. i hope we do it again this year.

  5. Keep the music playing.

  6. Best report ever!. Sorry we missed it. Wished I would have been there to meet your mother.

  7. peggy and your mother are great

  8. I have to confess, not being on a bike for over a year, it was a tough ride. That last five miles with a headwind was not pretty. Worth it all sitting under the oaks at Castell enjoying a cold one and the company of fellow riders. Thanks Don for letting me in on the Tour.

    • Dave, given your lack of what the FAA would call “current experience”, you did darn well. I was really happy to see you had made it out. Are you interested in riding it again sometime when the urge strikes you, or me? The more we all ride in the area, the better our chances to get more of the county roads considered for upgrade from dirt paths. We become a visible Llano County activity.

      • Don, sorry so long to answer your email. Bike friends came recently (they just rode from Portland, OR to Savannah, GA) and we all rode to Castell and back. Doris had a low tire and pushed her bike the last mile or so. She said that’s it for her. Those hills the last mile or two before Llano are trying. I’ve sufficently rested or at least memory faded (that doesn’t take long anymore) so I’m up for another trip. Let me know if you get the mood.

      • Hi Dave! Glad y’all made that ride again, but sorry Doris had trouble. We need to make some easier rides to let her get built up without all the suffering. That is a tough ride when out of shape for riding and with a low tire it would really be tough. Sometimes a group of cyclists make rides out of Marble Falls or Burnet on Saturdays. Let me check on whether Gil Jones is planning to ride then. If he is, you are invited. Also the weather may be iffy this Saturday, but there have been plenty of false alarms on that recently.

        Will get back with you tomorrow.

  9. Sounds like such a fun ride, guess next year I will just have to plan on coming down to do the “tour”.

  10. Don,
    I really enjoyed the ride and meeting you, your lovely and sweet wife, Peggy and your mother along with the other cyclists. I think this was your most well-written blog. Humorous, inspiring and a good account of the ride. Your rant hit home with me because my favorite brother in law, (Bill’s brother) has not taken care of his health and has congestive heart failure along with diabetes. Taking care of one’s health is unselfish because you can not care for those you love if you don’t tend to your own health first.

    • Phyllis,

      I am glad you enjoyed the ride and thanks for the strokes.

      I felt a little bad, going off on that rant, but it seems to have hit a chord with a fair number of people. Seems like most of us have someone we care about who has major issues because of the national belief that we don’t need to do anything, that someone (or something) will take care of us so we can ignore our own responsibilities. Having lived in the UK, under their healthcare system, I can say, with confidence, that this country is about to be a MUCH more dangerous place to be and over-eat and under-exercise.


  11. Pingback: Daily News Roundup October 25th – Texas Bicycling «

  12. Mr. Bynum,
    I enjoyed your Tour de Longneques account and pictures, reached through a link on Gil Jones’ site. I gave a serious thought to trying it myself, but was drafted for grandson babysitting. Sooner or later we shall meet on 2 wheels — or were you on 3? As a family physician in Marble Falls, I also appreciated the rant — I’d guess that as much as 50% of the problems I try to help with in the clinic and hospital are self-inflicted, usually at the dinner table. Tailwinds and smooth pavement to you, sir!
    — Mike Cravey MD

    • Mike,

      A quick favor please. Everyone called my Dad “Mr. Bynum”,… and then he died! So when folks call me Mr Bynum, I get nervous as all get-out that they know something, or are plotting some dastardly deed. Just call me Don.

      Gil, Eric Bewster (a high school class mate of Gil & me) and I, and all the rest of the participants, do the Tour de Longneques just for the fun of it. I do hope you will join us on that ride, and/or the Mormon Mill ride from Marble Falls to Burnet and back which Mike McKenna seems to sorta “sparkplug” for all our benefit.

      The rant seems to have struck a chord with many who have a loved one who is gravely ill due to lack of two kinds of exercise (first Exercise of some self-control about eating, and second a lack of physical exercise.) I hope others, reading your comment, will take the message to heart (if they have one left).

      See you out on a ride soon! And yup… 3 wheels for me. Even after a couple of long necks I am unlikely to fall off!


  13. I love the picture of you, Peggy and Auntie Ann. I expect to see that one on your Christmas letter. I am glad you had such fun.

  14. lets do it again, soon

  15. lets ride

  16. Pingback: Tour de Longneques – March 5th Ride Is Almost Here! | Don Bynum's Blog

  17. Pingback: Cycling – 2011 Real Ale Ride – goin’ up… and down… | Don Bynum's Blog

  18. Heard about you folks from my mother-in-law Ann Ragsdale. I’ve been Been riding most of my life, the bicycle saved my life through my most difficult days, doc says its the best medicine there is.
    Some of you in this handsome group might be interested in the book “Younger Next Year”. Along the lines of the rant toward the end of this blog but by an aging specialist doc and formerly large pal.
    I’m bringing my bike the next I come to Texas!

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