My wife and I recently “retired” to a ramshackle house of dubious structural character and even more dubious architectural character on Lake Buchanan about 70 miles northwest of Austin, TX. 

Sunrise at Lake Buchanan

Sunrise on 11 Dec 2010 - Nice place to live.

I plan to use my spare time boring friends, and those who might become friends, with my ruminations on cycling, sailing and surviving in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  

Cycling – For several years I have been cycling, both here and in the DFW area, to improve the odds of living long enough to run out of money.  In deference to my ageing prostate I converted to a Sun EZ-Sport recumbent bike a few years back, having spent enough on “anatomically correct” bike seats over the previous 10 years to have bought a recumbent bike.  Recumbents look weird, but man are they easy on one’s tender parts. In 4-1/2 years I have put over 2500 miles on my EZ-Sport, lost a bunch of weight, got my cholesterol, trigycerides, and blood sugar all within my doc’s targets and all without any drugs. This is like the ultimate Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit!  A couple of years back we bought my wife a recumbent trike (2 wheels out front, one in the back… much more stable than the one out front, two in the back “tumbleweed simulators” we looked at).  The result was that she actually began to join me on shorter rides.  While that machine, a Sun EZ-Tad was good enough to get her going, it was just not good enough to get her out on 10+ mile rides on the, sometimes rough, county roads that I love to ride. So we upgraded her to a really top of the line Catrike Trail machine for Christmas ’09.  Her Catrike so impressed me that I have acquired a similar, better fit for my 6’4″ frame, Catrike Road.  More on the purchase of these machines later. Now I have my “young lady” along with me on some of my back-country jaunts and I really enjoy that.    

There is little information available to let others discover, on a bike, the beautiful back roads on Llano, Burnet, Gillespie and Blanco Counties, so one thread of this blog will pertain to the rides I make.  There will be a related category which does not have the detail and editorial meanderings of my personal experience, but provides a catalog of rides of different length and difficulty… addressing issues like how far it is between “facilities” for ladies, and for gentlemen of excessive sensibilities, places to get refills for water, places to just plain sit and look dumbstruck and/or places to find a good mid-ride lunch.  I hope this information not only encourages others to come discover the beautiful Hill Country back roads from a “human powered vehicle”, but as I plan to post notices prior to some of my own rides, maybe to encourage some to come enjoy these rides with me.

Sailing – I love sailing, especially racing sailboats and even more especially I love racing single-handed sailboats such as the Sunfish or the Laser.  As I am not a 150 pounder who looks like a 5 year old’s “stick man” drawings and as both of these classes of boat have attracted the very top sailors in Texas in the last few years, I don’t win many races and have not won a regatta in 20 years.  But I have fun, sometimes scare the heck out of the “stick men” when the wind picks up a little, and don’t break the bank doing it!  Small single-handed boats are cheaper to sail than a big boat and lack the hassles of finding and putting up with the bunch of folks to crew on a bigger boat.  If you argue with your crew on a Sunfish or Laser, it is a personal problem for which professional help may be in order.  The Sunfish is easy to throw in the bed of the pickup (yes officer… with a red flag on the aftmost components) and the bed cover closed so that duffel bags and parts do not blow out, so long as one remembers not to load them next to the open tailgate through which the last 8 feet of the boat and spars are dangling.  For cruising, I like a lumbering Catalina 22 which can be kept on a trailer (avoiding $200/month slip fees) and which can be trailed behind most SUVs and pickups without causing the bumper to be pulled off or the transmission to resign.  The Catalina 22 lumbers along, only imperiling any open libations or loose grandchildren if the wind is really kicking up.  My goal is to provide some information about places to launch and sail on Lake Buchanan.  Lakes LBJ and Travis are so overcrowded that my view is that there is no good place for sailing on them, though I really enjoy sailing with the Sunfishfolk at the Austin Yacht Club at their small boat regattas.

Surviving – eating, drinking local wines, finding places to spend a night out here, and such are pretty well covered, but I intend to provide links to sources for those and in some cases comment on personal experiences.  Also in this category are a few things many know nothing of, though they live within less than two hours drive of Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake and the historic city of Llano.  One such pearl of knowledge is about the upper reaches of Lake Buchanan (in 2009 there were no upper reaches as the lake was down 30 feet).  Some have taken the Vanishing Texas River Cruise which goes part of the way up the river when the lake is full.  If you lack your own powerboat, or just want to relax and let someone else do the driving, it is absolutely a great way to spend a summer evening!  But… the size of the boat they operate prevents seeing some of the wildest, most unexpected, sights in The Hill Country way up the river.  We have a Seadoo Sport Boat (jet boat, like some huge mutated Jet Ski from a ’60s vintage Japanese Horror Flick) which belches smoke, makes all sorts of irritating noise, but is absolutely the best way we have ever found to make the run all the way to the end of navigable river, just at the south end of Colorado Bend State Park.  There are several waterfalls to enjoy, and in the spring the steep, high, walls of the river canyon are alive with the vibrant blue of Mountain laurel, the amazing pallet of colors involved in a large variety of cactus blooms, and the usual bluebonnet, paintbrush, and Yucca blooms in profusion.  Least among these is the bluebonnet because the canyon walls are too steep for them, but there are a few blue bonnets.  I will try to provide a sense of the experience of going “up the river” when the lake fills enough that a boat, not an ATV is the best transportation for that experience.

More later!


29 responses to “About

  1. Pingback: Cycling, Sailing and Surviving in the Texas Hill Country « Don Bynum's Blog

  2. Don, Would you mind if I mentioned your blog in our next issue of the Golden Beach newsletter? So people can click on it if they want? Or is it just for your friends?


  3. Hello Don,
    Looks like you are doing well, looked at your blog, didn’t know you guys were gone until we e-mailed you an invitation to our open house and all the e-mails came back. Whats going on? You are having a great time, sailing and bike riding, that’s great and hope to do the same one day.

  4. Wain Thompson

    I found your blog

    Wain Thompson
    syc Shreveport

    • Wain,

      Great! I am just finally able to climb the stairs to my computer. The 5 races Sunday am about did me in. However it was so much fun that I will be grinning at least through Thursday! Will be putting up a post about the Holiday in Dixie/ LA-TEX Regatta at the Shreveport Yacht Club in the next few days as the feeling in my hands returns.


  5. look forward to every article

  6. keep writing don

  7. Brian Costello

    Hi Don,
    Came across your blog while looking for old colleagues from T.I. in Bedford U. K. on LinkedIn. Glad to see you are keeping up the sailing and taking up cycling. I started into sailing when I returned to Ireland in ’77. Now racing a 29ft cruiser in Dublin Bay out of the Royal Irish Yacht Club with three brothers and various nephews and nieces on board!.

    Best regards to you and Peggie


  8. Hello Don,
    My husband and I own a second home in Kingsland and I am a cyclist. Please keep me on your email list of current rides that you are planning in the area. I am in a bicycle club in San Antonio, Hill Country Bicycle Touring Club and my husband and I host a ride in April to celebrate my husband’s Bill’s birthday and invite the club to come out for a ride in Llano county to see the glorious wildflowers. The ride will be the weekend of April 23. I would appreciate your help in planning a better route. We have been riding from FM 29 to Paradise Point in Tow but the traffic is getting heavier now and I thought that there may be a nicer route to ride. Please join us for the ride.

  9. Hi Don Bynum,

    I am sending out a survey link for a research study that will benefit bicyclists in the area. Would you mind if I could have your email address so I could send you the rest of the details?

    Thank you,

  10. Just want to be sure I am on your email list.

    Thanks for today’s ride.


  11. Don,
    I enjoyed your blog page. The next time we travel to Louisiana, maybe we can come by and visit. When we live in Austin, we enjoyed this same area as well. Please send me an email with your current contact info incase we do make a trip.


  12. Hi Don & Peggy!
    Ed sent me your email/blog!! Great to know you two are doing well! I’m impressed with the bike…may have to try one myself! Happy New Year!

  13. Don,

    There is an event in Llano I would like to tell you about. Please contact me.

  14. Appreciating the dedication you put into your blog and in depth information you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  15. Don, I’m so glad I found your blog. I’m fixing to move from North Dallas (Frisco) to the Llano area. I thought I was going to have to sell my bike for sure, thinking there was nowhere to ride out there. You have shown me otherwise. I hope to see you out there, and maybe even join you for some rides!

  16. Hi Don,
    I’ve been enjoying reading about your biking adventures. My husband and I will be staying in Lake Buchanan area for a family reunion next week and bringing our tandem. I’ve bought a few books with bike routes in Hill Country. I’d also be interested in knowing what your “boring” training ride around Lake Buchanan is, in addition to any other tips or routes you may have. We will be there this coming Fri – Sun. Email me if you have anything, or if you have a group doing a ride in the area on Saturday or Sunday. Thanks!

  17. Hi Don. I am the promoter for Bicycle Dreams and we are coming to Austin on Feb. 7. I am hoping to get some information to you so you can help let the cycling community know about this event. Could you please shoot me an email? Thanks.

    Garry Harrington

  18. Don, I would enjoy coming out your way and riding one of your routes with you and friends. I am off until June 4 so am very flexible. Please email me at rainycamp@yahoo.com.

  19. Don, I am a bike staff member at Davis Mountains Fitness and Training Camp in West Texas (www.fitnesscamp.org). We are non-profit- run by volunteers. I am trying to generate a new map of the Scenic Loop. Could I copy your topo map and profile?
    Sincerely, Mark

    • Mark,

      You may use anything on my blog including linking to the videos. If it would help, I could email the GPX file for the ride to you and you can use it also, including posting it on mapmyride or other similar sites. Let me know.

      Don Bynum

      • Thanks Don! I think I can use the map and topo jpegs as is. I found out I can insert both into my Mac “Keynote” software and scale them as needed. I need to add mileage at turns and rest stops so I will print it and mark it up and we will make hard copies from that. What is the starting point for the topo? We are based at the Prude Ranch on hwy 118.
        If I find a need for the GPX I will let you know.
        Mark Weidner

      • The start and end was at Indian Lodge in the park.

        Anything you need, just let me know.

        Don Bynum – Sent from my Android tablet.

      • Don,
        Would it be much trouble to make a copy of the elevation profile without the 12.7 mi, 6247 ft note? Since our start is 2 miles up the hill from your start, this notation is not right for us. I do not think bikers will note that the mile scale on the bottom is not accurate. I plan to put mileage notations on the map itself. I can “white it” out if I need to.
        You can email me directly if that would be easier.

      • Mark,

        I can run you clean maps and elevation profiles. I am about to head out for a couple hours of riding and will get these pulls and off to you when I get back.


        Don Bynum – Sent from my Android tablet.

      • Mark,

        Did you receive the files I sent yesterday?

        Don Bynum – Sent from my Android tablet.

  20. Hello Don,
    I’ve read your entries in the texascatrikers group. What trike computer are you using that gives the information you mention in your log?
    Duane Bolden

    • Duane,
      I use a Garmin FR305 wrist GPS/Heart Rate Monitor. After each ride I download the data into Garmin Training Center on my PC. The software came with the device. I bought mine on Amazon for something like $130 a couple of years ago. I just looked it up and must have caught it on a big sale, but it is a great tool. I think I read that it will also work with garmins cadence sensor, though I don’t think I need that ( fear of blown knees or hips on a recumbent keeps me geared down.

      I also purchased garmin’s Topo map database because it gives better detail. TC works with the Topo database.

      Don bynum

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