Tag Archives: Cycling to Castell TX

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.



Cycling – 101.5 miles! … No! … 101.5 Hilly Miles!

 Waiting for the day’s ride to start, a Sunrise fit for the adventure
Last Saturday (22 Oct, 2011) Gil Jones and I cycled from my home on the west shore of Lake Buchanan, TX to Junction, TX.  Gil and I cycle to many nice little towns in central Texas.  Junction just happens to also be 101.5 miles away, if one takes the scenic route.  I may mention that 101.5 thing again somewhere.
Lake Buchanan to Junction Scenic Route, cycling, Texas Hill Country, Catrike, Scattante 570

The route - click on the image for a larger version.

Our route would start on the western shore of Lake Buchanan, then go west on FM261 and FM2241 to TX29 on the east edge of Llano, then down TX29 to TX16 where we would go south to Fm152 at the northeast corner of the Llano Courthouse square.  At that point we would be 17-1/2 miles into the ride. Then we would head west on Fm152 for 18 miles to the little town of Castell, where we often ride from/to on the famous Tour de Longneques.  Then we would continue west another 10 or so miles to the intersection with US87 and then north into Mason for lunch at the Willow Creek Cafe.  We would leave Mason heading southwest on FM1871 through unending climbs and descents, one beautiful crossing of the Llano River, and yet more climbs and descents before reaching  FM385.  At FM385 our route would take us north, almost immediately coming to another Llano River crossing, Yates Crossing.  There we would stop and soak up the place while recharging our energy reserves for a few minutes, then face a tough climb up the north side of the river followed by a turn onto FM3480. On 3480 we would immediately confront a short but thoroughly gutwrenching climb and then a slow climb until we hit US377 and could go left to Junction (or to the right back to Mason, if we were daft).  Going left for about 12 miles on US377 we would hit US83 on the northern outskirts of Junction and proceed south to cross under I-10 and carry right on down the main drag of Junction to a city park, with which a couple of friends and I have some history dating back to 1962. 

The Elevation Profile for this ride is enough to get my attention.

Cycling, lake Buchanan to Junction Texas via the scenic route, elevation profile

The route clearly provides plenty of exciting descents and challenging ascents. Our starting point, Lake Buchanan, is at the left end of this chart.

Junction’s elevation ends up a bit over 700 feet higher than where we started, but one makes that much climb several times in the course of going there via the route we chose.

We did it.  We feel good about having done it.

cycling, Texas Hill Country, Lake Buchanan, Llano, Castell, Mason, Junction

At 7:40am, Saturday morning, Gil and I are ready to roll out from Lake Buchanan, bound for Junction, TX - 101.5 miles away

Gil has posted a very good report on our adventure and I commend it to your attention.  What I have tried to do is create a crude sort of pictorial report with minimal palavering from this point on.  As always, in these posts, to see a larger picture, click on the image.

This was an incredible experience.



Arriving at Castell!  36 miles behind us!

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Castell TX, Llano County, Castell General Store

Entering Castell, TX


Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Castell TX, Llano County, Castell General Store

Victor says "You are doing what!"

Turn right at US87 10 miles later
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Castell TX, Llano County, Castell General Store

We turn right then cross the Llano River about a mile north

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Castell TX, Mason TX, Castell General Store

Yup, hang a right!Crossing the US87 Bridge across the Llano River

 Lunch was at Mason’s Willow Creek Cafe

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, Willow Creek Cafe, Junction TX

Gil mugs at Peggy through the window upon arrival

 A BLT sandwich and gallon or two of iced tea does wonders!
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, Willow Creek Cafe, FM1871, US87, Junction TX

We head north on US 87, getting really hungry

 Time to roll out of Mason
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, Willow Creek Cafe, FM1871, Junction TX

Tanks full - ready for FM1871 ( wanna bet on that?)!

Then we hit that first BIG climb out of Mason on Fm1871
cycling, catrike, scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, Junction TX, FM1871

60 miles out, the climbin' gets serious

It was tough
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, FM1871, Junction TX

The first big climb out of Mason

And there were lots of climbs, most were straight into the wind!
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, FM1871, Junction TX

Gil drafts the trike into a headwind

They seemed never-ending!
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, FM1871, Junction TX

Finally we went down and crossed the Llano,... and then up again

But there was hope for a cooling downhill ahead!
Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Lake Buchanan, Mason TX, FM1871, Junction TX

Woo-hoo! Gil and I descend at 30-35mph!

 The Llano River really was a pretty sight.

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, FM1871, Llano River, Junction TX

This is a beautiful crossing where FM1871 crosses the Llano River.

We zipped across way too fast to soak up the sights here! 

Cycling, Catrike, Scattante 570, Mason TX, FM1871, Llano River, Junction TX
Then we start a 2 mile avg 4% grade grind
A humdinger of a climb it was.
Finally finished THAT climb!  FM1871 Mason County

Finally finished THAT climb!, but there are more

Along the way we passed a small herd of Longhorns.  Peggy got some pictures.  The drought this year has been very hard on these animals.  Look how skinny that cow with the calf is.

cycling, FM1871, longhorns, Don Bynum, Gil Jones Lake Buchanan to Junction

Thin Longhorn cow shows ribs while she keeps an eye on us

We go on and on, up and down, and then… finally we come to FM385 and hook a righty toward Yates Crossing!

FM385, Junction TX, Llano River, Yates Crossing, Catrike, Gil Jones, Don Bynum

Turning north on FM385 we came to Yates Crossing.

 Gil and I stopped at the top of the hill, overlooking Yates Crossing, and read a historical marker.  Yates Crossing was used by the Indians and later by the cattle drives heading north and needing to cross the Llano River.  I don’t know why Captain Call did not bring the herd from Lonesome Dove here to cross at this nice concrete low water bridge.  That kid would not have been eaten up by those water mocasins!


Gil and I just stopped to read the historical marker above the crossing

Then we rode down to soak up the sights, smells and sounds of the living Llano River as it winds its way across Texas’ semi-arid western Hill Country. 

Yates Crossing, looking upstream on the Llano


Gil is perplexed by the lack of a Verizon signal, 3G or otherwise. I snarf a Roctane gel.

Refreshed and ready to carry on our Quixotic adventure we had to make the steep climb out of the river bottom, then right at the top of that take a left on FM3480. 

The bug is on the gut-wrenching climb. Tough.

There we did a small climb then zipped down into Red Creek and got slammed with an absolutely gut-wrenching climb out of that creek bottom.  This climb, while short, exceeds a 20% grade momentarily and is well up in the high teens for about 50 yards or so.  At 86 miles into the ride, this climb was hard on us.


awful climb

Awful climb on FM3480

Once up that crushing climb, we had a gentle, 2-5% climb for a few miles over to the intersection with US377.  There we had to decide whether to carry on the 11-12 miles to Junction to the left or ride 25-30 miles back up to Mason.

Not being daft, we turned left toward Junction!


From here, it was only 9-10 miles to the intersection of US377 with US83 on the north edge of Junction.  From there, we just cruised on into Junction!

Cruisin' on into Junction... at about 99 miles at this point


Tired, hurting a little, and most triumphant! 

A short distance farther downhill through downtown Junction and we arrived at the Junction City Park.

Cycling from Lake Buchanan across the Texas Hill Country to Junction Texas via FM1871, Catrike, Scattante 570, Gil Jones, Don Bynum

We made it! Gil straightens his back and arms, while I keep my weight off my right knee. We were both fine by the next morning.

This is the park where in August of 1962 Bob Dawes, Eric Brewster and I parked my old Jaguar XK-140 and camped for the night on our way to a pre-college week in Garner State Park.  I believe we camped just a few feet from where the picture above was taken.  We had some memorably funny moments involving a hand-axe, a flashlight and some mischievous local teens, but I will leave that story for Bob or Eric to tell.  That was so long ago.

We loaded up the machines in the truck and went to the Valero Truckstop at US83 and I-10 and got showers there ($5 each nice facilities).  Then we went down to Lum’s BBQ and seriously pigged out before driving home. 

Lum's BBQ - On US83 south of I-10 about a mile - Go There!

This great adventure would have been very difficult without the help of my wife, Peggy, who drove along near us  carrying water, bananas, apples, spare energy gels, almonds, and her ever present camera. She made sure we would have help if we had a breakdown out in the boonies, and that was a great comfort and help on this adventure.

All told we rode 101.5 miles.  Garmin thinks I burned 7,005 calories and climbed something like 3,800-4,000 feet.  Not bad. 


Cycling – Tour de Longneques Saturday June 25th

21 intrepid, including a few who were also increpid, cyclists made the Tour de Longneques of June 25th, 2011.  18 started from Castell to make the 36 mile round trip and 3 started from Llano to do a less punishing 18 miler.

Tour de Longneques, Tour de Longnecks, Castell TX, Llano County, Cycling, Castell General Store, Texas Hill Country

18 riders prepare to roll out on the 36 mile Castell-to-Llano-to- Castell route.

The day was warm, about 78 degrees at the 0830 departure time from Castell and about 80 for the 3 cyclists who rolled out of the courthouse square at Llano on the one-way 18 mile ride.  Winds were light and mostly a crosswind and were not a big factor in this ride.

Early-on those of us who left from Castell saw Mike McKenna (Llano County’s bike repair guru and virtual superman on the road) and Dan Hansen (Dan was riding a Catbike recumbent) disappeared over the hills and into the distance.  I heard a rumor that they made it back to Castell about 15 minutes before they left!  Time-travel!

Ah! Youth and determination can overcome any hill!

Captain Justice leads Jay "The Enforcer" and me up the hill

Matter of interest:  Jay “The Enforcer” is preparing for a 250 mile great epic cycling adventure in August.  Several of her cousins are making a northern tier ride across America.  Jay will be meeting up with them in Indiana in August. She will then ride with them for 250 very hilly miles across Indiana and most of Ohio in 5 days.  Tour de Longneques rolling hills were perfect conditioning for her great adventure.  Yea Jay!

After a few on the hills and a steadily rising temperature "grim determination" was a useful attitude!

Richard Golloday drafts John Chalmers and Don Senzig up the hill as Bob Thomas pursues them up the hill

Bob Thomas continues his pursuit of the geezer brigade.

One after another, the 18 riders from Castell get a taste of "Les Cols des Longneques." Rachel Wicker leads this group of 4 including Pam Thomas, Mike Thayer and Rachel's dad William (on the recumbent) up the hill.

Pam Thomas and Mike Thayer give "lookin' hot" a new meaning!

William Wicker is smiling in the knowledge that he has tastefully accessorized himself by selecting a shirt which matches his GPS!

Tim "that which does not kill me makes me stronger" Gardner grinds it up yet another hill! Sometimes they seem to come in an endless stream.

I find that phantasizing about the post-ride healing soak in the Llano River's rapids keeps a smile in place and makes people who would otherwise bother me suspect that I am deranged.

Now, if you look back up a few pictures, you may notice that several riders attempted the Tour de Longneques on mountain bikes, rather than road (skinny tires, lighter frames, …).  Those folks give special meaning to the term “Iron Men (or women)” because mountain bikes take way more effort to roll down the road for substantial distances.  They are great at jumping stumps, riding over rocky trails and chasing mountain goats across cliff faces.  Most road bikes would be a twisted mass of metal, carbon fiber and mangled tires after an hour on a mountain bike trail.  This ride is on roads, and they were on mountain bikes, so we got to see some gutsy riding.

I am not certain, but I think that Pam Thomas was the ONLY mountain bike rider to make the full distance from Castell to Llano. Here we see her "in recovery" on the lush lawn and shade of the Llano County Courthouse. Pam, AWESOME! More than one Big Strong guy bit the dust trying to do what you did!

Robyn Hansen (right) and her sister Liz enjoy the post-ride wind-down after the ride 18 mile ride from Llano. Robyn and Liz started out with Joyce Berecki, but Joyce went so fast that she was in Castell and down soaking in the river by the time the camera babe (my wife Peggy) got back to Castell and started taking pictures.

Back at Castell about half of us and a few friends who had not ridden made the pilgrimage down to the Castell bridge on the Llano.  With great reverence we sighed, laughed, moaned and giggled as we sank lower in the swirls of the sacred healing waters of our beautiful Llano River.  The river was flowing nicely, contrary to the typically weird ( meaning “screwed-up” ) Austin TV coverage of the drought.

So the June 25th edition of the Tour de Longneques is now in the record books, and, more importantly, in our memories.  It was hot, really hot, by the time we finished, but the Llano and a few Lone  Star Long Necks cured what ailed us.

We will be doing the ride again in a couple of months, I am sure so watch this blog for updates so you don’t miss it next time!

Tour de Longnques March 5th 2011 Ride Report!

In spite of weather forecasts that the Tour would be ridden in mid 40’s temperatures with a 20 mph crosswind gusting to over 30mph, it just was not like that.  When we rolled out from Castell it was sunny and just over 50 degrees.  By the time we had ridden a mile I had unzipped both of my winter long-sleeve cycling jerseys and was cooling off with the Tour de Longneques T-shirt layer being all that was between my torso and the dreaded arctic death conditions.   Lots of people did not ride who had planned to, because they had seen, read, and/or heard all the forecasts and reports.  As it was 9 intrepid souls left from Castell at 10am sharp and another 6 rolled out from Llano a bit later, for a total of 15 riders.  Not bad considering the anticipated conditions.

Ready to Roll out from Castell for the 36 mile round trip to Llano - 9 of the 15 total riders. The other 6 left from Llano to Castell on the 18 mile ride.

We rolled out and Peggy jumped in her car, drove ahead and caught pictures about 3 miles east of Castell.

Doug Miller, having just turned 70 set the pace and few of the rest of us could keep up!

Mike Clark, seen in hot pursuit of Doug.

Following Mike was Andrew Gray, with Mike Thayer not far behind.

John Chalmers in his "if they run over me it was because they were trying to" shirt.

Joe Iley, of Austin, was close behind John on the Castell to Llano leg.

Nick Stoffel's grin shows that the weather conditions were better than any of us expected.

Bob Thomas of Lago Vista made the 18 miles in over an hour less time than on his first Tour ride back in September.

On the way we met folks who had departed from Llano for the 18 mile one-way ride to Castell.  William Wicker and his niece, Brittany Taylor, both of Blanco were the first we met about mid-way.  Brittany was so far ahead that we missed getting her picture but… if you find The March 9th Llano News there is a picture of both William and Brittany, preparing to depart Llano, on Page 3.  

William Wicker, riding the Llano to Castell route, chases his niece Brittany (no picture)

Another Llano to Castell rider, Cary Kelly cruises on his TerraTrike.

Still heading for Llano, Nick Stoffel has caught up with Andrew Gray and they visit as they ride.

Bob Thomas and I roll along at over 15mph as I draft him. Catrikes are hard for a prostate crusher bike to draft, but it is easy to draft another Catrike.

Mike Clark sneeks a draft off Doug Miller as they start up one of the many rolling hills on the way to Llano.

John Chalmers was still grinning 5 days later. This was a really nice ride.


Mike Thayer was another "chronic grinner", obviously enjoying the ride.

Meeting us as she rode the Llano to Castell route Carlene Worthington and her tail-gunner Zero greeted all us East-Bound and Down riders.

In Llano, we all went over to Fuel and found the live music, led by local string maestro John Caballero (also organizer of an upcoming Fiddle Festival - April 1-3 in Llano). See: http://www.llanofiddlecontest.com/

The local Chamber of Commerce ladies were also enjoying the show.

After coffee, munchies and smoothies, we started our way back to Castell, joined by two more riders, Mark Guiler and Virginia (VA) Miller.   VA and Mark had come out from Austin with Andrew Gray but did not want to try the 36 mile round trip just yet.

Mark Guiler warms up his legs on the way out of Llano heading for the longnecks and brisket in Castell.

John Chalmers comes out of the saddle to crest a hill as he passes the Llano golf course.

VA and Andrew cruise along, sharing the moment, on the way to Castell.

Back in Castell, Kim and Doris marvel that a guy my age could ride so far and still stand tall! I didn't let on that my collar was hooked on a nail on the post and that I could not fall down.

Mark and VA plot revenge on Andrew for talking them into this ride!

The post-ride tall tale telling session gets started!

Special thanks to Doris Messner, Llano Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, for organizing the music, goodies, and other doings in Llano for the ride and to Pam Thomas, Molly Chalmers, and Peggy Bynum for driving Sag Wagons to rescue those of us who needed it and to shout encouragement at those who just looked like we neded help.  Also, to Peggy for the photography.

No date has yet been discussed for the next Tour de Longneques, but it will most likely be late June or early July before the central Texas cycling scene settles down enough to have another “just for  fun ride.”  Stay tuned.

An upcoming event of great merit and likely fun will be the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center Pedal Power Wild Flower ride on April 2nd.  Hopefully many of you will join us on that worthy ride.  It goes through some amazing country.

February has been a busy month out cycling – Final Update

In February, weather has often been a problem. But I did make my 300 mile goal for the month! Thankfully we are, at last, getting some very welcome global warming. We had one 70-hour period below freezing, and mostly below 25 degrees.  Then we had another artic blast with 5 nights in a row below freezing, and usually in the mid-20’s, with days only in the 30’s and 40’s.  While these cold snaps are not unheard of in the Hill Country, they are not what we usually experience.

With the bad weather I had only ridden 7 times in the first 17 days, but those 7 rides have included some leg-stretchers.  Mileage month-to-date was 222.99 miles, but it seemed like more.  In the last half of the month I got in 3 more rides and finished my 300 mile goal. 

On February 5th four of us local geezers rode a 37 mile loop out on county roads,… and there were a “few” hills involved.  The other three rode prostate crushers, while I lounged along on my Catrike.  That was a great workout that burned 1,656 calories, according to my Garmin FR305.

On February 7th I went off on my own and left from the south edge of the city of Llano and rode CR312 (off TX16) for a round trip of only 21.7 miles, but… it has one bugger of a hill that often brings cyclists to their knees.  For those familiar with other area rides,  think of the big climb (The Beast of Mormon Mill) southbound on Mormon Mill Road into Marble Falls, then make it steeper and roughly twice, maybe three times as long.  That is what the big hill on Llano CR312 is like, and it comes after 5 miles of steady climbs.  The map and elevation profile for the CR312 ride appears below. 

Cycling Llano County, CR312

Route map and elevation profile

 Once making it to the top of that climb, a stop is needed by most cyclists.  We always say the stop is so we can enjoy the spectacular views of at least 3 counties, but I have seen a pretty fit 30 year old man slumped in the road getting his breath at the top of that climb.. 

Cycling in the TExas Hill Country

One can see a long way from the top of The Big Climb on Llano CR312!

 There are lots of cattle guards to keep one’s body loosened up (and things attached to the bike ( or trike ) seem to stay loosened up a bit more than is welcome).  I continued about 3 miles past the big climb before making the return ride.  The big descent does not invite daredevil record setting. There is a wicked cattle guard, in the middle of a slight left turn, about where one would be accelerating through 50mph.  So, no scary videos like the one of me shooting The Beast of Park Road 4 came from this ride. This was a 1,074 calorie ride. 

On the 8th, with south winds 20mph gusting to 30 in my face, I just rode down to the post office and picked up the mail, a trip of just under 12 miles.  This ride showed a calorie burn of only 515.  That wind sure made for a fast return ride!

Then on Saturday the 12th Gil Jones and I rode from Lake Buchanan to Llano and then out to Castell for some BBQ.  There was a big Saturday crowd at the Castell General store. It is difficult to imagine more “Texas Friendly” people one could encounter. 

cycling, Castell TX, Llano County

Kids abound around the Castell General Store and the Catrike really gets them interested.

Gilford Jones and Don Bynum prepare to leave the Castell General Store

Gil and I prepare to roll out heading back to Llano and eventually Lake Buchanan

We skipped the beer, having ridden 35.7 miles to get there and with that much before us to get back. 

Cycling in Llano County.  Catrike and prostate crusher riders enjoy the day.

About half way back to Llano and 44 miles into the days ride!

On the way back to Lake Buchanan we stopped at the Fuel Coffee shop just off the courthouse square in Llano.  We each had a smoothie to give us an energy boost for the last 17 miles of the ride back.  Once back at Lake Buchanan we had logged 71.4 miles. According to my FR305 I had burned 3,220 calories.  This ride had rolling hills and nothing even remotely as difficult as that cliff on CR312.  Gil posted a report about this ride on his blog.

On Sunday the 13th, I drove into Austin with the trike in the truck and made a group ride with the newly-formed Lone Star Bent Riders group.  The “Bent” refers to recumBENT cycling machines, not to riders are are “bent” by having enjoyed too much Lone Star.  Seven recumbent riders and one “poor hunkered-over feller” on a prostate crusher made this 22.2 mile ride.  We started just south of Ladybird Lake, crossed the lake on a foot bridge full of people usin’ their feet. We then went generally northwest  along where the Balcones Fault creates the hills west of Austin almost to US183.  Then we went east, then south on a route that took us through the UT campus and continued south. At 10th street we turned west along the south edge of the Texas Capitol complex.  We turned south on Congress Ave. and  crossed Ladybird Lake then turned west on Barton Springs Road to our starting location at South Lamar Blvd.  My on-board camera ran until memory was full and I extracted about 7 minutes of video excerpts of that ride which can be seen on youtube.

On the 14th Gil and I set out on what was planned as a 20 mile ride southwest of Burnet, but found that our legs were in need of a day off and shortened the ride to 13.2 miles.

On the 16th Gil and I set out northeast from Burnet and looped around to Bertram for an ice cream cone ( yes, it was Blue Bell ). We then proceeded southwest, into what had developed into a 15-20 mph headwind, to the little community of Oatmeal.  At Oatmeal we turned northwest on county roads to make our way back to Burnet.  In the course of that ride we took CR334 which has a great hill, with a left turn half way down, for descending like a bat-out-of-hell.  I hit 41.2 mph (my previous best on this hill was 41.1) and Gil captured it on video.  When we got back to our starting point my instrumentation suggested that I had burned 2,111 calories and it felt like more.

A few days of cold, or extremely windy, weather and tax preparation made for a dismal, rideless, week of Fed 13-19.

On the 22nd John Chalmers and I made the 23.1 mile ride out to Paradise point and back in about 2 hours.  This ride cooked off 985 of the 2million or so I took in as comfort food while getting our taxes sorted out the week before.  

On the 24th John and I headed west on RR261 and then on west on RR2241 to the Lone Grove Community center and then northand west a couple of miles on Llano CR216.  We were riding into a fearsome headwind all the way to Lone Grove, but once we turned around and got back on RR2241 heading home we were rolling pretty fast for a couple of nearly 67 year old geezers.  On one gradual uphill I noted that we were cruising around 24mph, where on the outbound leg into that wind we were going downhill and barely managing 11 mph.  All told we rode 21.8 miles in 1hr 43 min and Garmin thinks I burned an even 1,000 calories. 

On February 27th, for the coup de gras on my 300 mile goal for the month I headed out alone and rode north to the Bluffton store, then out to Buchanan Lakes Village and all around it, then on down to Paradise Point and then off and around the HiLine Marina area.  From there I went back out to the Bluffton Store and south on 261 but cut off and rode down to the end of Shaw island Road and then home.  The wind had kicked back up and made parts of the ride pretty tough.  I rode 37.3 miles in 3hrs 18 min and my Garmin gadget thinks I burned 1,716 calories.  Those calories seem much easier to take in than to work off!  Maybe there is a lesson I could learn from that.

I got up the morning of Feb 28 thinking I might put on a few more miles and found that I had a flat on my left-front tire ( had worn through the cord).  On that note I declared February to be done.  I had gone through both front tires in the course of about 2-1/2 months.  Maybe I should cut back on my “land-speed record runs.”   For the month my total mileage was 305 and a fraction.

It is now time for the first Tour de Longneques of 2011 on March 5th.  I need to go buy a six-pack of Lone Star Longnecks and do some elbow exercises to prepare!

Tour de Longneques – March 5th Ride Is Almost Here!

 Friday Afternoon update-Well, we do live in Texas.
The latest forecast for the Llano area is for us to have clear skies, temps in the middle 50’s – low 60s, and a strong north wind (it will be mostly a crosswind) during the 10am to 1pm period when most will be on the road pedaling happily along.  That is rideable but you might want to wear long-legged and sleeved gear and pay attention to the crosswind.  Besides, doing it will make a great story for Monday when some co-worker starts to tell about the harrowing drive to the grocery store they made.
Live music is set for the Gazebo on the courthouse square (I suspect that if it gets too cold/windy for the musicians they will relocate to the stage in Fuel (The Coffee/Smoothie joint just east of the square on East Main St.))   Riders leaving from Llano (doing the 18 mile Llano to Castell one way ride) should gather near the Gazebo then plan to roll out at 10:30.  Riders planning to do the full 36 mile ride should be ready to roll out of Castell at 10:00am sharp and plan on taking a break in Llano to recharge at Fuel (Coffee/smoothie joint just east of the square) then head out with the goal of being back to Castell not later than 1:30 so you get in on “the deal” on Lone Stars.
The Castell General Store is going to be selling Lone Star Longnecks from noon to 2pm for $1.50 each, so we should be able to afford to soften the pain from the ride.  And of course they will have their usual excellent brisket carved by Chef Victor!
The Llano Chamber of Commerce has been extremely helpful in assuring that we will have a good mid-ride break. They have also touched base with the Sheriff’s department to let them know there may be a few extra cyclists out for the day.  In addition the Doris Messner Llano Chamber of Commerce Exective Director has arranged discounts/freebies from Stonewall’s Cafe, Acme Cafe and Joe’s Bar on the Llano square.  When you arrive at the Llano end of the ride find Doris (either at the Gazebo or inside at FUEL) and she will give you a stack of coupons and tokens.  Doris will be wearing a Tour de Longneques shirt, though it may be buried under layers of warm clothing. 
For anyone wanting to start the ride on a full tank… I plan to have breakfast in Llano at Cazadore’s Mexican Food Joint at 8am Saturday.  They do GREAT juevos rancheros and are getting used to seeing people in our strange cycling garb.  For a map, go to maps.google.com and enter Cazadores Mexican Restaurant, West Dallas Street, Llano, TX as your search term and you should get a map immediately.  The restaurant is just west of Bessemer Ave (TX16 and US71) one block south of TX29.  
An unrelated but sorta related report on a ride that involved Llano and Castell by 4 of us seasoned citizens Wednesday:  Gil Jones, Don Senzig, John Chalmers and I rode the 83 mile loop which will constitute as possible Tour de VERY Longneques later this year.  We left from the Llano square and went south out to RR2323, then southwest out RR2323 to US87, then north on US87 to RR152 then east to Castell, then on east to the Llano square.  82.9 miles by my GPS and it reported 3,500 feet of vertical.  Two of the riders either got a lift from the SAG vehicle we had arranged or walked up part of the toughest climb (near the west end of RR2323) and two of us rode the entire distance (I was one of the two!!!! Yea!).  Gil has already posted a report on the ride ( http://captjustice.com/2011/03/03/67-x-3-74-83/ )  I include this in the TdL final announcement to tease the idea of the longer ride (and MUCH tougher terrain) for those who are accomplished or aspiring tri-athletes.  If three 67 year olds and a 74 year old can do this, so can you.
Also, … Sunday some of us Hill Country hicks are planning to make an approximately 50 mile loop from Castell, west out into Mason County and up to Doss then back across Doss-Cherry Springs road and back to Castell.  If anyone wants to join us, you are very welcome.  We plan a stop at the Doss Country store (25 miles into the ride) for lunch and a break.  Departure time is still being debated, but I would guess it will be sometime in the 10-11am range.  By the way, the wind is forecast to be only 9mph on Sunday with temps in the upper 60s.
Don Bynum
The first Tour de Longneques of 2011 will be this Saturday March 5th.
Most riders will start at Castell at the Castell General Store (Tour de Longneques World Headquarters) at 10:00am.Riders who are not yet up to the 38 mile round trip will start at the Llano Courthouse square at 10:30 and head west on RR152 on the 18 mile ride to Castell.  They will meet the 38 mile riders about 1/3 of the way to Castell and, most likely, eventually be caught up to by them near Castell. 
After lunch we will round up volunteers to get Llano starters a lift back to Llano to get their car so they can come back to Castell to load up their bikes. 
We are starting a little later than usual to allow riders from Austin and San Antonio to drive in that morning and make the ride with us.

As always this is a fun ride and there is no “organizer”.  We will have a couple of volunteers driving the route for Sag Wagon duty.  If we get a really large turnout, we will arrange to start in waves to avoid problems seen at some rides in 2010, where many hundreds of riders showed up and everyone was just turned loose at once.  But… we will do that without having anyone be responsible for each rider, except each rider herself, or himself.  Got to be grownups. Besides, we have yet to break 100 riders.  The more we get out for these rides the more enthused local businesses get and from them will come support for stuff like paved county roads and actual paved shoulders here and there so we all gain from a good turnout. 

Oh yeah… please wear your helmet.  If you do not, we will all, loudly, make fun of you.

Some new “cool stuff” will be happening!  The level of activity on TdL last year reached the point that cycling “got the attention” of some local business folks who recognize cycling as an economic activity source for the area.  The Llano Chamber of Commerce has already lined up some live music to be performing on the square from 10am to noon to make the break and rest stop on the square more fun.  There is also an effort underway to get a couple of local businesses on the square to offer discounted ice cream and/or smoothies to riders.  The Chamber of Commerce will have bottled water available at the Llano break/turnaround. 

As usual, I am sure we can depend on the impresario of Castell to find a way to add to the experience.  As a result of all the cyclists he has seen in the last six months, Randy now owns a shiny new mountain bike which he has been rumored to be planning to ride around the parking lot before we head out!

Sooooo.  Please join us this Saturday March 5th for the first Tour de Longneques of 2011.  The weather forecast shows showers EAST of Llano Friday night, but it looks bone dry for western Llano County with temps in the upper 50’s at our 10 am roll-out time and the upper4 ’60s about the time we will all be getting back for Longnecks and Brisket.  There is NO REGISTRATION, no registration fee, no great terrifying bureaucracy associated with the rather organically spontaneous Tour de Longneques (how’s that for exercising some buzz words?).  There will be a 10am start from Castell for the 38 mile ride.  A 10:30 start will be used for those riding from the Llano Square for the 18 mile ride.  Enjoy a nice rest stop with live music, and no telling what else, at the square in Llano (some sort of access to “facilities” is being arranged).  Then have a ride back to Castell to see what, in addition to reasonably priced Longnecks and Brisket, has been conjured there.  To help those generous souls who are volunteering their support for the event, some clue as to likely headcount would be a great idea.   

Please use the Facebook event at:  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=192471320777744  to let us know you are coming.  

Tour de Very Longneques – a possible future ride.

Several riders have asked about having a longer route.  Adding one to the fun and simple Tour de Longneques would greatly complicate keeping TdL simple.   However… Maybe in June or early July we could do a very separate, and therefore almost as simple, Tour de Very Longneques on the roughly 83 mile loop from Castell to Llano out RR2323 to US87 to RR152 and back to Castell.  Such a ride would sure as heck require soaking in the Llano afterwards.  More on this later, but we may have one or two renegades who make that ride this time anyway (but with no committed SAG WAGON support, water, grub, facilities or psychiatric help after leaving the Llano square.)  Texas is still free so they can make that ride and we will all toast their toasted buns when they make it back to Castell.

For those new to the concept of the world famous (at least it is on the internet) Tour de Longneques see posts on previous TDLs.





For any questions please contact me viua email at dpbynum@gmail.com.


Don Bynum

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.