Tag Archives: Cycling with Grandchildren

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 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 – Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan

My grand plan had been to make the ride from The Bluffton Store to the Fall Creek Vineyards, sample some wine, then ride back to The Bluffton Store on Friday.  That would be a great ride to have in the catalog of rides with interesting stops and would be long enough to burn an afternoon and 1500-1800 calories.  That was the plan.  Then things I had to do Friday morning went slower than expected and I had to scrub a ride on Friday in spite of beautiful riding conditions.  I was bummed.

Our younger son and his daughter were coming to see us for the weekend, so I called and suggested that he bring his cycling gear and ride Peggy’s Catrike Trail.  We would ride to the winery and back!  A ride with my son would really make that ride a humdinger due to his 30-something status and amateur ice hockey player physical conditioning!  So that became “the plan”. 

Then late Friday evening our son arrived, our almost 4 year old Princess Regent sleeping soundly as he carried her in and tucked her in bed.  Then he asked me to come out and see what I thought was going on with his car.  uh-oh.  When he turned the steering wheel a terrible metallic creaking sound came from the right front suspension.  We concluded that he needed to have that checked before they headed back home Sunday. Being that we live in the boonies, that meant he needed to get into Austin Saturday morning and get it checked.  So much for “the plan”…  again.  Bummer.

With Brad leaving for Austin around 8am, Peggy and I could at least look forward to some high quality time with our granddaughter while Brad dealt with Click and Clack or whoever it would be at the car fixer’s circus.    That became the plan.

Last fall I had seen a tiny pink bicycle with training wheels at a neighbor’s garage sale and, for $5.00, bought it.  One of the wheels on the training wheels was worn completely out and the other was not far behind so I dug around and salvaged a couple of slightly larger lawnmower wheels and modified the brackets to use the larger wheels (an upgrade!)   On a visit a month or so ago the granddaughter tried it out with her Dad pushing her along and her pedalling a bit from time to time.  This was a link in the chain of events that turned a series of doomed plans into something really special.

In preparation for the visit by Her Highness The Princess Regent, I brought the little pink bike in and set it in the living room next to my Catrike Road, which had been languishing next to Peggy’s grand piano for a week as plan after plan got blown up by weather, other events, and the need for a mechanical exorcism involving our son’s car.  Morning came and as soon as her highness had finished breakfast, and all the other stuff little girls do to get themselves squared away for the day’s efforts, she made a bee-line for the little bike and asked if she could ride it inside.  After putting her helmet and elbow/knee pads on (we had bought her a helmet and pads set at WalMart shortly after buying the bike), she was soon zipping around with little help and adroitly avoiding the Irish Setter’s tail.  This was starting look look better and better, so I suggested that we put on a jacket and move to the patio for her riding.  That went even better, so I asked if she would like to go for a ride, with granddad on his funny looking tricycle, through the neighborhood over to the small POA park.  She thought that sounded like fun, but asked if she could have a flag like my Catrike has.  I understood that really meant, “Granddad, please put a flag and other ornaments suitable to my royal status on my bike.”  Grandparents reading this already knew that, but I have discovered that even some single people have been reading my blog, so explanations are sometimes in order.

An hour later, with the flag and strobing LED headlights and tail lights installed, we were ready to get underway.  The first thing we did was to observe a ritual that is a hangover from my days as a private pilot.  We, Granddaughter and Grandfather, did a careful “preflight” of both machines together, discussing why it is important that each item be in the specified condition and configuration.  She stayed remarkably engaged in that process for one so young.  The last thing we did prior to “mounting up” was to turn on the strobes on each bike.

Helmets on, bikes ready and properly configured, strobes on, get final departure clearance from Grandmother and we are ready for a little ride.

As much as I was enjoying this, I still harbored some disappointment that the very manly Bluffton Store to Fall Creek Vinyards ride plan was toast.  That misunderstanding of what was about to unfold did not long endure.  I quickly learned that if I rode to the inside her highness tended to wander off to the loose gravel near the shoulder of the streets and get stuck.  Since we live in a very private area in serious boondocks with very little traffic, we swapped sides and she rode closer to the center and I rode on the outside.  And… Hey!  With this weird Catrike thingy, I could ride slow enough to stay right beside my granddaughter without wobbling around and eventually falling off my ride!  This is pretty cool!

We rode off to the south about a block so I could assess how my charming riding companion was going to handle the gentle hills and descents of our neighborhood streets.  As we went we were able to carry on an educational discourse about things like what to do if Granddad shouted “BRAKE” (put on the brakes gently and slow down), what to do if he shouted “Brake! Brake! ” (put on the brakes hard and STOP right where you are!) and what to do if he shouted “CAR!” (ride off onto the grass on the right side on the road and stop.)  I figured three basic commands would be both enough and about all even my exceptional granddaughter could be likely to remember in a moment of stress.  That worked out very well. 

When we reached the turnaround a block south, it was clear that she was doing well and wanted to ride more, so we did a u-turn and rode back past  home (providing Peggy a photo-op as we passed) heading for the park.  This would be a ride of about 1 mile, round trip.  As we rode Her Highness also wanted to talk about other things that interested her.  We shared a private time like none we have ever had before and much like some time her dad and I shared about 25 years ago.  This plan was just getting better by the moment. 

The downhills on our route were enough to let my companion practice gentle braking and hard braking and the flats gave her a chance to try going “faster”.  Her faster was still slow enough that I would have fallen off my two-wheeler and embarrassed myself (or worse, at my age).

Then we came to gentle rise which was a challenge for this new rider.  She was really working at it.  I did not want her to become discouraged or think that she could not do it.  So… realizing another benefit of my Catrike, I eased up beside her from behind and very gently, gave her enough boost that she was able to make, but so little boost that she felt that she had done that climb (she really had… my boost was extremely slight, but essential to success.)  If I tried that from a two-wheeler I would have run over her, fallen off and embarrassed myself or fallen over frontwards and bloodied my face… or maybe all three.   On the stable, but agile, Catrike I had no sense that I was imitating The Great Linguini’s high-wire act as I simply extended my left arm and pushed gently against the flagpole on her bike while totally under control and able to focus my attention of speed control and spacing. On my two wheeler I would have needed to do all those tasks plus try to avoid a balance deprived disaster!  I already liked my Catrike, but this was a totally unexpected jackpot of benefits on so many personal planes. 

We made it over to the park, rested and had some water then headed home.  The final gentle climb before starting downhill towards our house involved some added help because  fatigue was setting in.  In this case, I asked if this charming young creature would like for me to give her a “little push” and she accepted.  She already felt like a winner, having taken such a long ride and so obviously impressing me.   Sometimes something so enjoyable happens that it gives me a “5 day grin” and this was one of those times.   Visiting as we rode, discussing our plans for this summer – sailing and for taking Casey, the Irish Setter with us on the jet ski (yes the dog likes the jet ski, except when she has a kid on it with her… then she LOVES the jet ski)  As we rode down the final hill towards home, a neighbor saw us and came out for a visit so we stopped and got some great ego strokes when she was told what a long ride we had taken.

After a short visit with the neighbor we rode the final 50 yards home, parked the machines, did a post-ride checklist to be sure we had shut all the lighting off and went inside looking forward to lunch and a nap.

This plan came out pretty good. 

Tomorrow I will try the ride to the winery if the weather holds.  If it does not hold, well who knows what good things may happen instead. 

Check this blog Monday to find out how that plan works out.

A few months after the above post, I got to introduce The Princess Regent to my other passion… sailing.  See that post for even more fun.