Category Archives: Surviving

Two days and two really fun rides

Wednesday afternoon, with the temperature about 70 degrees F ( I think it may be measured in furlongs in Europe) under clear blue skies, Peggy and I got out and did a 6 mile meander through several nearby neighborhoods. We went slow and enjoyed the sightseeing.  I love riding with Peggy.  It just makes me feel good.

Today (Thursday), I rode the 17-1/2 miles over to Llano to meet a friend I had not seen in 29 years. Mark Belcher and I worked at a small computer start-up back in 1984 and had not had any contact since until recently when I tracked me down via Linked-In on the internet. Mark was in the area for some vacation time with his sister and her family and suggested that we have lunch, so I agreed, picking… wait for it… yes! The Berry Street Bakery in Llano.

Mark Belcher and I had some laughs and a great lunch at The Berry Street Bakery in Llano.

Mark Belcher and I had some laughs and a great lunch at The Berry Street Bakery in Llano.

We spent two hours catching up on 29 years of our two lives and having a couple of serious laughs at the expense of a couple of previous coworkers.

Afterwards I rode back to Lake Buchanan, taking my time to enjoy the flurry of emerging wildflower activity brought on by a recent downpour. 

Tomorrow 3-4 of us cycling geezerfolk will ride over to Llano for lunch at… wait for it… YES!  The Berry Street Bakery! 

It is really nice to be getting out and riding after a very slow month of February.  I guess not that many 69 year guys fret over only riding 150 miles in a month. 

Life is pretty good.

I am beginning to hanker for a Cherokee Burger and some Miss Sue’s Sweet Tea so there is a 67 mile ride in my near future.  That will help!

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So what happened to 2012 and how is 2013 going?

After creating posts regularly for two and a half years, I seemed to stall out somehow around mid-year of 2012.  I still cycled, I still sailed and I sure as heck survived so … well it is pretty simple.  I fell into the habit of just posting stuff on Facebook rather than going to the trouble of writing a blog post. 

For a variety of reasons, I made no great new rides in 2012, but I rode my favorite routes around the Llano and Burnet County areas adding in adventures into San Saba, Blanco, Gillespie and Kendall Counties.  All of this took place on familiar routes.   After going to Shreveport for the Holiday in Dixie Regatta in early May, most of my sailing was of the much more important variety.  The high point was when our 6 year old granddaughter asked if she could sail the Minifish solo. 

The wind was light and I was so proud that I could have almost walked on water as Anna untied from the mooring bouy, then climbed on the boat and trimmed the sail just right,  as she got into deeper water she  lowered her daggerboard (without a word from anyone) and sailed all around the cove in front of our house for about an hour.  Peggy was on her Sunfish with Anna’s little sister, Chase, nearby.  I fired up the little Seadoo and followed Anna at a respectful distance, showing my confidence that she was perfectly able to handle the boat after a couple of years of sailing with me, Peggy and her dad, Brad, on the slightly larger Sunfish.

On the cycling front, I achieved my 3,600 mile goal for the year with a bit to spare at 3,644 miles.  Garmin thinks I burned a bit over 237,000 calories in the course of those rides.  In late September my trusty Catrike Road broke.  Though I rode it nowhere that my fellow (mostly) over 65 friends did not go on their up-right prostate crusher bikes, the frame on the Catrike just broke.  In classic great service, Catrike and the dealer I work with, Easy Street Recumbents, worked with me to ease the financial blow of replacing the mortally wounded Catrike Road with a much snazzier Catrike 700.  They did this though the trike was WAY out of warranty.  For that I am very thankful to be dealing with such committed capitalists who did things the way capitalism is supposed to work (and generally does so long as government keeps its corrupting snozz out of the way.) 

I was only off the trike for about two weeks while Catrike built me an almost University of Texas burnt metallic orange Catrike 700 rig, got it to Austin and then Easy Street Recumbents assembled it adding some upgraded components and a few goodies they moved over from the dearly departed Catrike Road.

Earlier in the year my old high school classmate and frequent cycling companion Gil Jones decided that there was wisdom in “The Catrike Way” and bought himself a shiny new Catrike Expedition to replace his 18 month old Scattante road bike.  At the same time his wife Jen decided she needed to get out with us as well and they got her a Catrike Trail.  Catrikes are proliferating in them thar hills… for good reason.  Though it takes more effort to drive them up hills, they give a great workout without the many repetitive motion injury issues of upright bikes with their up-the-chute seating, hunkered over riding position and tingling hands effects.   Added benefit… very few people have ever gone over the handlebars of a catrike, to smear their lipstick all over the chipseal pavement. The few who have done that on a Catrike seem almost as likely to require medical attention as those who did it from a two-wheeled machine, but the attention does not seem as likely to involve a helicopter ride.

In early July, our Son Russell, his wife Lisa and the Granddude (Steven) came for a week.  Lisa borrowed Peggy’s Catrike Trail and we logged about 80 miles in 5 rides.  She is hooked, but Russell is too cheap to let her get her own trike.  Gotta work on that.  

So that brings me to 2013.  Having put over 1,000 miles on the new Catrike in the last 2-1/2 months of 2012, I had quickly become comfortable with it.  The 700 does not corner as well as the road did, but suffers from less drag as speeds go up in a straight line.  My average speeds are now running 2+ mph faster on the 700 than I was able to do on the old Road on the same routes.  It is a little faster up hill and usually a lot quicker on the flats, then a little faster downhill.   In January I got in 322 miles in spite of some weather that was not cycling-friendly unless one enjoys cycling in one’s ski wear.  February was a bust with many distractions and I only got in 143 miles.  This has put me WAY behind my plan of doing 4250 miles this year (averaging 350/month).  It has also contributed to an 8 pound weight gain! 

Ah but it gets better.  In mid February our son Brad, his wife Jessica and the two grandchicks (Anna and Chase) came down and while they were here I took Jessica out for a short Catrike ride, with her on Peggy’s Catrike Trail, in the neighborhood on Saturday then took her for a 6+miler on Sunday morning.  She was hooked.  As her birthday was coming up, Peggy, my mother and I conspired to find a lightly used Catrike 700 as a birthday present, which Peggy and I picked up and delivered last Friday evening.  Today Jessica posted that she and Brad had logged a 12.5 mile initial ride (he rode his prostate crusher).

Maybe I will have the motivation to get back to blogging regularly.  As convenient as a quick post on Facebook is, I hate the overall banality of what I find on Facebook and enjoy reading blog posts, far more than Facebook posts, by friends, because they usually paint a richer, more interesting word picture… often with actual pictures and videos to boot.  I guess I should do unto others as I most enjoy them doing unto me.  So watch for more regular blog posts.   

When someone does something really irritating, don’t just smile to play with their head.  Grin… then they also have to wonder if you are grinning or actually baring your fangs and THAT really plays with their head.

Don

Cycling and other stuff

Several friends have pointed out that I have let them down by not providing much in the way of entertainment from my blog in the last few months.  It seems that some people get a laugh out of reading about the suffering of others.  If one’s character is known by that of one’s friends, I guess I am in trouble.

The summer was pretty hot this year.  In human terms it was historic, but in the less egocentric geologic terms it was just a modest warm cycle in the climate history of this part of what we currently call North America. Due to the heat, I did not cycle as much as I would have liked. Much of what I did was so early in the morning that memory is sorta foggy about those.  However, by the end of August I had raised my year-to-date mileage to 2,132.7.  Garmin estimates that I burned 119,041 calories… and I STILL weighed 220 pounds +/- a couple of pounds on any given day.  While the rides I had managed were fun, few were on new routes and, therefore, were not worth blogging about.  Likewise, sailing had been pretty sparse since it has been a long trek down to the water all summer.  A long way to drag a beach dolly bearing my royal yacht.

Then came September and the Austin Yacht Club Regatta and our Lake Buchanan Sunfish Regatta, both of which I did posts regarding.

Once through those two regattas, I skipped the other September regattas due to other commitments, but did start getting in a few more rides.  By the end of September I had added 235.76 miles to the year’s total.  One of those rides was a really nice new route added to our inventory of rides worth repeating, while the rest were repeats of previously blogged routes and offered only faster times as being worthy of note.  The one new route was Buchanan to Cherokee, with a great burger and some Miss Sue’s Sweet Tea at the Cherokee store.  The burgers there are made on a freshly baked bun that makes an amazing difference in the experience.  It is worth the trip and, as you will note as this post continues, we have repeated it a couple more times.  But… back to the the inaugural Cherokee Burger Raid Ride…

Five of the notorious Hillybikers Cycling and Geritol Swigging Gang set out from the Bynum Estate and Boat Graveyard on the west shore of Lake Buchanan, on the morning of September 17th, bent on a visit to the Cherokee store for a burger and Tea ( Peggy and I had scouted it earlier in the week )

Cycling, Catrike, Llano County Texas, Cherokee Texas

From Left: Doug Miller, Gil Jones, Richard Golladay, Don Senzig, and Don Bynum prepare to leave on the 53 mile Cherokee Burger Raid of September 17, 2011

Our route took us west on FM261 then on  west on FM2241 to CR216, where we turned north by the Lone Grove Community Center.  We rode the bumps and many cattle guards of CR216 north and west to TX16, where we turned north to climb over the pass at Babyhead and onwards to Cherokee.

As we climbed toward Cherokee on TX16, after crossing the pass at Babyhead, an EMS unit came up behind us.  We were wondering if they had ESP or something or had just heard that a bunch of old guys had escaped a local nursing home and had been seen grinding north on presumably stolen bikes and trikes!

Way back in the distance the lights of an overtaking EMS unit are visible.

The fun was only beginning!  We did make it to Cherokee without being arrested or anything and had a great break with burgers and tea.  I think Gil could not resist gobbling down some Blue Bell ice cream for dessert.  We then headed back south on TX16 retracing our outbound route.  We took a short break at the roadside park just south of Babyhead then on, via CR216, to the east and south.  A few miles into CR216 we encountered some horses that seem to be regular escapees (I have seen them out on the road several times).  They were unsure about the bikes and VERY unsure about the trike.

Don Senzig is pretty nervous about dogs, but horses did not bother him as much as he bothered them.

The horses nervously let the guys on 2 wheels pass them.

Doug Miller (right) and Gil Jones (barely distinguishable from the rear end of the horse on the left ;0) passed through the group.

Shortly thereafter the horses saw the trike coming and all moved off into a gate area and studied the strange looking threat for a while before bolting, repassing all the cyclists and eventually galloping madly through the entrance to their own pasture.

The trike scared the hell out of the horses!

We rolled on east and eventually south on CR216 climbing the hills and roaring, all grinning like jackasses eating cactus, on the descents that followed each climb.  At about 41 miles into the ride Peggy caught the picture below.  The best I can figure it the average age of this group is about 69.  Surely there must be something in us that makes us have these moments, not unlike when Lt Dan, in the movie Forest Gump lashed himself to the mast and rode out a hurricane on Gump’s boat while shouting challenges at the gods.

"Where's the next hill we get to climb?"

The ride was 53 miles and it was a ton of fun.  The scenery was darn nice for a place in the grip of a bad drought and my companions made it all the better.

A couple of weeks later, our Son Brad and his family came down for the weekend and we had a great time.  Elder granddaughter, Anna, and I got out for a short ride on our trikes, somberly observed by younger granddaughter, Chase, who is no doubt wondering when she will be big enough to join us on our cycling outings.

But those events took place in October, so they will just have to await the next post…  still… just to tease a little…

Anna and I enjoy the moment

When will I be big enough?

… oh, and in the course of the 235.76 miles ridden in September, I burned 16,208 calories!  Don

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.

Surviving – Trying out kayaking on Lake Buchanan

Prologue:  As reported in the previous post, I got a little banged up at the Shreveport Sunfish Regatta in April and was still gimpin’ around several weeks later. Cycling results in eye-crossing pain in my left foot after a couple of miles.  Well I finally went to the doc.  He poked around, took some X-RAYs, then pointed out a bone chip near the joint between my second toe and my foot.  He had me do some taping and immobilizing for a couple of weeks then sent me on to see the local orthopod.  The orthopod looked at the X-RAY, poked around on the joint for about 30 seconds, then smiled and said “you are going to be fine.”  I pointed out that about 10 weeks had passed and that if I was gonna be OK surely I would by now.  It was then that he explained that I needed a shot of cortisone to stop the inflammation and give the toe and bone fragment time to develop a “fibrous connection” as they were surely unlikely to ever form a hard connection at this point.  So I got a cortisone shot and the foot is better, but not yet well enough for cycling (the Orthopod suggested staying off the cycling for 2-4 more weeks.)  Soooo… no cycling adventures have occurred on which I can expound.

Well here I sit floating on a calm stretch of the green waters of the Snake River Gorge (heh-heh)

But, I have gone out and purchased a used kayak (found on Craigslist.com). After letting it sit for a week because I was worried about aggravating the foot while carrying the “yak” down to the lake I finally broke down and gave it a try (never been in a kayak in this life and I suspect, unless I was much smaller in whatever prior lives I may have had, most likely have just never been there and done that… period.)

25 June: OK! I finally feel stable enough on my gimpy foot to try getting in/out of my newly acquired, but very experienced, kayak.    I carried it down to the beach (upside down over my head) and out into about a foot of water then plopped it down.  Carrying the boat down, I concluded that I am glad I bought this one (under 50 pounds) not the longer sit-on-top boat (65 pounds) I also found on Craigslist and had considered buying.
 
Getting in the kayak was not as big a challenge as I had anticipated, so I tried paddling out a ways from shore, staying in water that was no more than 3-4 feet deep.  There was a 10-12 mph breeze out of the southeast, straight in across our Catalina, which is moored a bit over a hundred yards offshore in 12-14 feet of water.  The waves were 6 to 10 inches high and fairly short in period.  I found that I did not submarine when paddling straight into the seas, which was good news.  The drop-down skeg on the kayak seemed to work perfectly and I tried paddling with it down for a while, then raised it to check out the difference.  With the skeg down I had much better directional control.
 
After a few minutes dinking around in the shallows, I took off, briskly, towards the Catalina.  About 2/3 of the way out I came about and tried paddling with the seas.  No sweat, (I do not mean that in the literal sense… I was sweating pretty good from the effort) though while coming about with the seas on my beam, the instability of the kayak was VERY noticeable.  I paddled in about half way, to where I was pretty sure I could stand if I went over, then turned to put the seas on my port side and paddled along for about 50 yards that way, getting a feel for how to stabilize the boat, then came about and put the seas on my starboard beam and repeated the process. 

Casey really wanted to join me.

Then, I paddled in to shallow water where Casey (our Irish Setter) had been hovering as she obviously tried to work out where she was supposed to be on the kayak. She came out to meet me and I had to dissuade her from climbing into the cockpit with me.  Once I had her convinced that I believed she was not getting in at this time, she backed off, but had that look that told me she was rethinking her approach to the problem.  She loves going on the jet ski, like the Catalina, and though she is a hazard to all, including herself, she usually tries to go on the Sunfish with me when I have it out.  I am talking about an arthritic, geriatric (12 year old), way taller/longer than standard, 70+ pound Irish setter.

 
To keep Casey from having a meltdown, I headed back out and came alongside the Catalina, where I noticed a turnbuckle lock nut that had worked loose on the back stay and snugged it up one-handed. It was interesting staying balanced and in position while tightening a nut about 12 inches above head level, one-handed, in a kayak for the first time in my life.  Having secured the back stay, at least for the moment, I eased forward, checking the starboard upper and lowers and found that they were OK as was the forestay turnbuckle.  Then I paddled clear of the Catalina and came about at the mooring mark and started in. 
 
The wind had picked up a bit and the seas were pushing 10 inches, or so, pretty steadily to I decided to see if I could surf them like we do downwind when racing the Sunfish or Laser (sailboats).  I found that the technique was very similar in terms of balance and positioning on the face of the waves and figured out how to power up the paddle just right and actually surfed too easily.  The big problem was that it was easy to over accelerate and come off the face of the wave and into the back of the next one.  To my amazement, it did not submarine then! 
 
Approaching shore, with no idea of how one is supposed to extract a 6’3″ lumbering old man from a sit-in kayak, I decided to try pulling my legs out of the hull and propping them on top the hull forward of the cockpit.  That worked OK, then when the bow beached I swung my feet off the port side and stood up and out of the boat. I then stuck the paddle under the fore and aft shock cord webbing, picked the boat up, turned it upside down over my head and strolled back up to the house. I felt very manly, indeed!
 
Tonight, my shoulders are telling me I did something unusual today.  That is good because at the Shreveport Sunfish regatta in April, in the heavy air, I was having trouble sheeting properly when going to weather.  My arms/shoulders were too out of condition, causing me to have to use the cleats too much and to have trouble using them in the bigger puffs.

Off into the great unknown!

First time out in my Kayak on Lake Buchanan
“Yes, I am sure I put the rear hatch cover back on.”
 
26 June:  I got up early and carried the Kayak down to the water and went for a short (2 laps out to and around the Catalina) paddle.  Carrying the boat the 60-70 yards down to the beach was a nice warm-up.  I would have done more laps but, my shoulders were a little sore and I decided that a couple of laps would do for my second outing.  The water was flat and there was just a gentle southwest breeze and the two laps took a total of 11 minutes. 

Carrying the light weight kayak back (50-60 yards) up to the yard is not too tough.

Rounding the Catalina, I head back in on the first lap

I forgot to put the sensor for my HR monitor on,but am pretty sure that I maintained my HR around 100 maybe up to 110 for brief periods.  It was an easy paddle.  I picked the kayak up and carried it back up to the yard, … have I mentioned that I am really glad I bought a kayak that weighs less than 50 pounds? Yes? Well, I am still glad about that.

Later in the morning I took some parts and tools down for some work to be done on the Catalina and Casey (the giant Irish Setter) and I rode the jet ski out and boarded the Catalina.  Getting Casey onboard was a bit of a job, as her hips are getting weak, but she finally just sucked it up and jumped up from the seat of the jet ski over the side and into the cockpit of the Catalina.  
 
While I worked on the boat, Casey amused herself wandering around the deck, watching passing fishermen, and eyeballing what was going on with some small children down on the beach next door to our place.  Casey seems to see herself as Chief Lifeguard on our cove, where any small children are involved.  She is an amazing dog, of the sort that people write stories for the Reader’s Digest to publish. Once I had completed the “fixin'” that needed doin’, I told Casey, “On the jet ski” and she jumped over the side and right into her position on the jet ski.  I would have been in the lake.  Then we rode around the cove some to satisfy Casey’s desire to affectionately slobber down my left arm as her ears and muzzle flapped in the breeze. 
 
Once we had moored the jet ski near shore, Casey jumped off and went over to check out the small children nearby, to the momentary consternation of a 5-6 year old boy and his mother.  Once Casey picked up on their anxiety she made a point of trotting straight to the mother, tail wagging, obviously intending  to get to know her in the standard way dogs like to meet new friends, apparently believing that would put her at ease. I managed to shout Casey “leave it” convincingly enough that she stopped short of her destination,  then while the mother giggled nervously, Casey turned and trotted over to the little boy who had watched it all and obviously understood what had almost happened and thought it was pretty funny.  And then, everyone was OK.  I am glad I am older now and happily married else I might be tempted to use Casey’s greeting technique and get slapped senseless, then thrown through a window by some bouncer down on 6th street in Austin.  But it does usually seem to “break the ice” with any new friend Casey meets.
 
Tomorrow, I plan to hit the water on the Kayak again and see if I can extend to 3 laps out and back.  Gotta get that heart rate up over 100 and keep it there for at least 20 minutes to begin to crank up my system in a “sustainable” way.
 
Life is good out here in the Texas Hill Country haven that Llano County represents.  Really good.

Surviving – Sailing injuries have kept me out of cycling for weeks!

OK.  I was supposed to have a post up about the Shreveport Regatta almost a month ago.  I have not done it and doubt that I ever will.  As things worked out there are no pictures available from the regatta and without some pictures to help tell the story of a heavy air regatta, it just will not work.  Also, I sustained a couple of injuries which have, so far, kept me off my trike. But… maybe tomorrow… I will give cycling a try. 

In the course of the Shreveport regatta, winds picked up enough to provide a real workout, and in the process, I severely jammed the #2 toe on my left foot (all swollen up even as I type away almost a month later) and twisted my left knee so badly that if I sleep on either side, I wake up in the night in excruciating pain.  I sailed in the Austin Yacht Club Centerboard Regatta a week after Shreveport and was able to do it only because I knew there would be very little wind.   The swelling in my toe has, this week, been reduced enough that I can tell for sure that the joint between my foot and the toe is where the worst injury occurred.  The knee is (FINALLY) much better to the point that I can touch it firmly without my eyes crossing.  I believe the injuries occurred in the midst of a fairly spectacular ( and stupid ) capsize which occurred while on a screaming downwind leg and in third place in the first race Sunday morning.  After righting the boat and resuming the race, I found that I could not hike out for long at a time to keep the boat flat and driving.  After 5 heavy air races that morning, every part of my carcass was so exhausted and sore that no one part stood out as being anything other than just sore.  As the general soreness faded over the next week or so, I realized that there was more going on than just being sore from the great workout.     

Suffering aside, the regatta in Shreveport was a lot of fun, due in equal parts to the southern hospitality provided by the members of SYC and the 20 gusting near 30 winds that we had for several of the races.  When Peggy and I were younger we would go to the Shreveport regatta with our Snipe Class boat and maybe be injured by the excellent southern hospitality (with the help of the open bar they always had back in those days on Friday and Saturday evenings).  Now I avoid the bar because I figure I have already killed my quota of brain cells, but am easily injured by great sailing conditions.  That aspect of getting old sucks.

 I will leave it to others, who may have access to some action shots from the races, to chronicle the details of the racing in Shreveport.

While limping and gimping back home around Lake Buchanan, I have spent some time doing “community service” for our Property Owner’s Association in the hopes that it will induce them to continue to not hassle us over the disgraceful state of our residence.  In the last week, with my trusty 16 inch chainsaw, I have cut down (and mostly cut up) 7 or 8 pretty big (as in 16 to 20 inch diameter… some a challenge for a 16 inch saw) willow trees, in our neighborhood park.  These scraggly, messy, trees have been bugging the POA board for some time.  Some of this effort has, no doubt, slowed healing of my “Shreveport Injuries”  but some of it surely must have had a beneficial impact on fitness.  I did better on the trees than I did sailing.   I managed to avoid any lumberjack-specific injuries and beat all the trees.  A friend went over with me this morning to help cut up the last 3 logs I had left lying about for snakes to hide under.

Lake Buchanan has been at a pretty steady level for several weeks now, about 8 feet below full.  We have also had less rain this month than in the last several months.  The bluebonnets are mostly gone now, along with the Indian Paintbrushes.  We now have nice stands of Indian Blankets and huge, very dense, stands of Coreopsis.  The slopes to

wildflowers between Lake Buchanan and Kingsland

Coreopsis on the slopes east of RR1431 south of TX29.

Texas wildflowers in May

Waist deep Coreopsis by our driveway

 the east of RR1431 between Buchanan and Kingsland look like they have been painted gold in some areas.  Out next to the street in front of our house, the “blankets” and coreopsis are literally waist deep.  We even have something called “Standing Cypress” growing in our yard down next to what we wish was the beach.  Oh yeah, we have had a couple of really showy thunderstorms in the last couple of weeks. Even though the lake is still short of full, the public launching ramps around the lake are open.  That is great news.  While I have not fished in years, I am hearing wild tales of huge hybrid striped bass that are being caught on the lake this spring.   

 With our son, daughter-in-law and grandson from California, and we hope our son and granddaughter from the DFW area, about to show up for a week or so, we decided we should start “checking out” the powered part of our flotilla of “yachts”.  Sunday we got our Seadoo Sport Boat out and found that everything that had been working last July, when it was last in the water, is still working!  Unfortunately, the stuff that was not working (fuel gauge, speedometer and depth/fish finder) is still not working.  The battery was even still charged enough to easily start the noisy damned thing.  Monday we delivered the boat to the local powerboat psychic to get everything but the speedo fixed.  The handheld GPS from my Catrike is more accurate than the speedo anyway so, the heck with it. 

This weekend maybe we will see if our small Seadoo and our daughter-in-law’s monster little Seadoo (Lord! it is fast) will start.  Hopefully we will also be able to test the outboard on the Catalina 22.  The grand new launching area in the Llano County Park has no place to rig a boat in the water. With the prevailing wind blowing more or less up the ramp, sailboats without motors “need not apply”, so we need that motor to get away from shore and into the wind in the Catalina to be able to get the sails on it up.  We will also need to be careful since some rocket scientist laid out the ramp so that there is a power line drooping across between the parking area and the ramp itself (and I often hear some locals express surprise about how few sailboats are on this lake!)  If all that stuff works, then all the stinky, noisy, stuff will be in good shape for the grand gathering as well as the heap of Sunfishes, Laser, Laser-II, canoe, and paddleboat.  No doubt I should also check out the various air mattresses, mooring buoys and associated anchors.  Too darned many boats.  Our son from California is at least sparing us one floating adventure, as he has the carbs from his Seadoo and has not yet overhauled them (been two years since the carbs went to California with him… maybe they are now on one of their motorcycles.)

Anyway, aside from the pain and suffering of my Shreveport injuries, not much of anything worthy of discussion has happened.  I will sign off and hope to make a short ride (about 15 mile round trip) down to Shaw Island and back on my Catrike tomorrow.  Hopefully I will be able to report that I survived it without a trip to the orthopedist down in Fredricksberg.