Tag Archives: Llano River

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

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Cycling – 61 miles of Wildflowers on March 24, 2012

On Saturday 24 March, Don Senzig and I made a pilgrimage to enjoy the great wildflower show on some favorite back-country roads out west of Lake Buchanan in northeastern Llano County.  Don did it on his road bike and I rode my Catrike Road.  My Garmin Heart Rate Monitor/GPS thinks I burned just under 4,000 calories.  For folks not in as good a shape as the two of us (average age about 72!) you can drive this route in your car.  If you do choose to drive, for Pete’s sake roll down all the windows and enjoy the smells of spring as well as the sights.  Our route is shown on the map below.  Then there will just be lots of pictures and very few words after that.

2012 Wildflowers in Llano County west of lake buchanan seen on cycling ride

The route started and ended to the lower right end of the route. Went to CR216 then north and west to TX16. Then north to CR226 then north and east to the end of the paved road (San Saba County doesn't pave many roads). Then back down to TX 16 and north to Cherokee for a burger at the Cherokee Store. Then south on TX16 to Llano CR215 then east to FM2241 and back to the start. 61 miles of cycling heaven!

 While there are some pretty flowers on TX261 and FM2241 before you get to CR216, we knew the best was NOT on those roads.

Wildflowers

Llano CR216

After CR216 we went north on TX16 to CR226.  In the shot below we are about to turn off TX16 onto CR226.

Wildflowers in llano County 2012

Texas wildflowers in 2012

Llano CR226 was Very nice

Bluebonnets and Sables on Llano CR226

Don thinks these are Sables. I wonder if they like the taste of bluebonnets or maybe know how great they look lounging amongst them. CR226

No unicorns on CR226, but it looked sorta like there might be.

Llano CR226 wildflowers about and the low water crossings are running

One of many cooling splashes through crossings of tributaries of the Little Llano River - CR226

I promise that was NOT a Unicorn!  Late breaking news!  Don Senzig has advised me that the horned critters are scimitar oryx, not sable antelope.

After returning to TX16 and riding about 6 miles north (mostly uphill) to Cherokee we enjoyed a burger and some of Miss Sue’s (the proprietress) sweet tea, then headed back south.  After going through Baby Head Pass the flowers started getting really thick again.

Bluebonnets in Llano County - March of 2012

TX16 Southbound. I am sorry about the hairy leg that keeps showing up, but riding the Catrike and shooting with the on-board camera makes it tough to avoid a little manly leg showing up from time to time.

I also show a few seconds of video as we cruised down TX16 (lots of welcome downhills).  Click here to view it.

TX16 Southbound.

 Eventually we reached the turnoff to Llano CR215, which climbs over two ridges then descends to intersect FM2241.

CR215 - Indian Paintbrushes coming up among the Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets - Texas Hill Country 2012

I feel sorry for people who cannot ride a bike (or Catrike) far enough to enjoy a ride like this.  I feel even sorrier for people too lazy to even get out in their car, roll down the windows and drive this route.  It is truly spectacular this year.  The Bluebonnets, Paint Brushes, Phlox, Wine Cups, and 6 or 7 varieties of yellow flowers are really making a show in 2012.

There are several other places to see the wildflowers online,

A cycling blog post with pictures on most of the route shown above , but two weeks earlier can be seen (click here) , or…

Pictures from a couple of weeks back on TX29 between Burnet and the Inks Lake Bridge  are also online (yup… click)

Really great wildflowers and floodwaters pictures taken on March 19 by Jim Baines.

..

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 – New friends met through the blog

A couple of weeks back, I received a comment on the blog from a woman in Wisconsin.  A google search about cycling in this area had led her to my humble blog.  She and her husband were coming to a family reunion in the our area in a few days and wanted to do some cycling while here.  Beth Peterson and her husband Pat are avid tandem bike riders and go to tandem rallies all over the country when they can get away.  The reunion they were coming for was going to be based at The Heart of Texas Resort, located on the upper reaches of Lake LBJ, just below the Inks Lake Dam and Fishery and about 1/2 mile from the Hoover Valley Store on Park Road 4.  I put out the word to The Hillybikers and we quickly pulled together a small group to do a 40+ mile tour around the area with Pat and Beth.

Cycling, Llano County, Burnet County, Park Road 4, Inks Lake, Llano Slab

Route for the October 14th ride with Pat and Beth Peterson from Wisconsin

On Friday, October 14th, we all met at The Hoover Valley Country Store on Park Road 4.  Park Road 4 is a serious favorite road for me.  It runs south from TX29 on the eastern slopes of the pink granite ridge that sits to the east of Inks Lake.  Going south in very hilly terrain PR4 skirts the lake, providing great views, a couple of which are “take my breath away” beautiful. Often, when riding early in the morning, we see  a lot of wild-life such as deer, turkeys, red-tail hawks, osprey, foxes, raccoons, and even the occasional skunk.   In the spring and fall, if there have been any rains, there are wildflowers that can be very showy.

Cycling, Gwen Peterson, Pat Peterson, John Chalmers, Doug Miller, Don Bynum, Inks Lake, Kingsland TX, Hoover Valley Store

Start at the Hoover Valley Store, head south on PR4/FM2342 to FM1431

From the store we headed south on PR4 to its intersection with FM2342.  We bore right onto Fm2342 and carried on to the southwest to FM1431, across 1431 from Spykes BBQ (worth a visit if you are in the area and need to treat a protein deficiency… very good BBQ).

We turned right onto FM1431 across from Spykes BBQ, wandered through part of Kingsland then joined River Oaks Drive and eventually left on Slab Road to the Llano Slab before heading on west to TX 71 where we turned around and headed back toward the slab.

But, it was early, so we had to fore-go a visit to Spykes.  We turned right (north on 1431) and crossed the Colorado River arm of Lake LBJ then about a half mile north we turned off into a maze of local surface streets that wandered through the “Llanorado” area of Kingsland until we came to RR2900.

There we crossed 2900 and joined up with River Oaks Drive, which rolls along beside the Llano River arm of Lake LBJ for a few miles.  Eventually we made it to Llano Slab Road (AKA FM3404) and turned west.  Just after joining 3404 we descended to the Llano River where the road crosses at a geologic formation known as The Llano Slab.

In this area the river flows directly on a bed of the pink granite bedrock for which the area is well-known.  Due to recent rains we were treated to the sights and sounds of the water swirling and undulating across the width of the slab (around 70 yards across at that point).   I did not get any pictures, but Beth was snapping furiously away as we pedaled our way across the low water bridge.  About 2/3 of the way across we stopped and let our visitors enjoy the sights and sounds.  Being from Wisconsin they are not strangers to running rivers, but I sensed that they somehow also picked up on the reverence and awe that most Texans feel for that particular river.  If Beth sends me any of those pictures I will post them in this report as an update.

Rolling on west from The Slab we joined Llano County Road 307.  We cruised through hilly green (thanks to recent rains!) ranch land and through “pecan bottoms.”  Pat and Beth saw large stands of mature pecan (pronounced “puhh-con” in the civilized world, never, ever say “pea-can”) trees and herds of grazing cattle, including a calf that stood in rapt attention as the tandem cranked past it… all the while Beth was balanced precariously on the back seat shooting pictures like crazy. The one moment she did not have the camera up and ready to shoot, a road runner dashed out into the road ahead of them and across and off into the nearby brush.

Eventually CR307 brought us to TX71 where we took a break and then returned to the east.  We crossed the slab again and climbed out FM3404 to the east until it intersected FM1431.  At that point we turned north on 1431 and headed up toward Lake Buchanan.  Along the way my wife, Peggy came across us and got out her camera and got some pictures of the group as we proceeded north toward FM261 (Lakeshore Dr) along the west shore of Lake Buchanan.

Fuxxys Corner, FM261, Lakeshore Drive, Lake Buchanan, Lake Buchanan - inks Lake Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Center, Devils Water Hole Hoover Valley Country Store

The last half of the loop

The ride north involves only one hill worthy of any notice, and not a really steep one, but it is about 3/4 of a mile long and will get your goat given the chance.

Cycling, Llano County, Doug Miller, John Chalmers, Pat and Beth Peterson

Doug Miller and John Chalmers lead the way as Pat and Beth have just crested the long climb on the way up to Fuzzy's Corner (Fm1431 and TX29)

Cycling, Tandem Bike, FM1431 and TX29, Fuzzy's Corner, Beth Peterson, Pat Peterson

Pat and Beth arrive at Fuzzy's Corner with Pack Saddle Mountain in the backround

After riding on to where FM1431 intersects FM261 we turned south, riding along the west shore of Lake Buchanan to TX 29.

Doug Miller, FM261, TX29 Lake Buchanan, Cycling, Llano County

Doug Miller leads the group up to the intersection of FM261 and TX29

John Chalmers and Pat and Beth, also approaching TX29 on FM261

Pat Peterson, Beth Peterson, Tandem Bike

I don't know how to describe those smiles in Wisconsinese, but in Texan we would say "they're smilin' like a jackass eatin' cactus!"

Lake Buchanan - Inks Lake Chamber of Commerce, Cycling, maps, Beth Peterson, Pat Peterson

The group stopped at the Buchanan-Inks Chamber office and Visitors Center so Pat and Beth could stock up on maps and area information

cycling, tandem bike, Pat Peterson, Beth Peterson, Inks Lake, Texas Park Road 4

With Inks Lake in the background Pat and Beth experience one of the MANY short, but steep climbs on Park Road 4

Devil's Water Hole, Inks Lake, Cycling, Pat Peterson, Beth Peterson

Pat and Beth, having lived through the climb to the overlook at The Devil's Water Hole, look like they may be having a good time.

Surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Texas Hill Country, Pat and Beth climb one last hill before we arrive back at The Hoover Valley Store.

Back at our starting point, we all, including my wife Peggy (she took all of these pictures and many more), descended on the cafe and had lunch while we seasoned the memories we had made during the morning’s 42-mile sharing of our love of cycling, and for us local rustics, our love of the special place in which we are lucky enough to live.  Beth and Pat, y’all come back any time you want!

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 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!

Cycling – Kingsland / Sunrise Beach Loop 6/8/2011

We had 5 cyclists who made it out for the Wednesday Evening Group Ride which Mike Thayer organizes each week during the summer.  The temperature had been a pretty scary 101+ at 4pm, but as we were rolling out at 6:30, the temperature was down to a tolerable 92 degrees with a 6-10mph dry south wind making the start comfortable.  8 -9 miles later as we rode the loop around the waterfront development of Sunrise Beach, on the west shore of Lake LBJ, the temperature was into the upper 80s and really nice for riding.  Several riders had backed out on the day’s ride, worried about afternoon being too hot.  As usual, it was not too hot by ride time.  They missed a great and relaxing ride.

Cycling, Kingsland TX, Texas Hill Country, Sunrise Beach TX, Lake LBJ

Route map and elevation profile for the Kingsland / Sunrise Beach Loop Ride

The route took us from the meeting point in Kingsland, at the intersection of FM1431 and RR2900, out 2900 to the south.   We dropped down the hill to the 2900 bridge over the Llano River Arm of Lake LBJ then began a 200+ foot gentle climb to the crest of RR2900, where we got a nice view of the Sandy Creek Valley with the Blue Lake and Horseshoe Bay communities visible off in the distance.

As we topped the crest on RR2900 we had a nice view.

Coming down the hill to where RR2900 Ts into FM2233, we stopped at the intersection to enjoy the cool breeze and rehydrate then went left (east) towards Sunrise Beach.

The closer we got to Sunrise Beach, the more deer we saw.  Once in the lakefront community we rode the loop around the waterfront and past the airport and then back west to rejoin Fm2233 for the return ride to Kingsland.  The deer were really thick in Sunrise Beach.  We saw numerous does and yearlings ( maybe 40-50 of them ) plus several large bucks.  As we rode along beside the airport we came upon three fawns that had been placed by their moms in deep grass.  A doe will place her fawn, somehow telling it to stay lying down to be less obvious to predators.  These little fellows let us ride past within 10-15 feet of them.  They just sat very still (and maybe a little nervously) as we 5 cyclists rode quietly past, each of us enjoying the fawn-watching.   My impression was that these were most likely triplets, an unusual occurance in Texas Whitetail deer.

As we rode back to Kingsland the temperature continued to drop.  As we got back to the starting point, it was about 85 degrees and the sun was just about to set.

I rode pretty hard on part of the return ride, the leg up and over the hill on RR2900, to get a better cardio workout, so my maximum heart rate for the whole ride was 158 beats per minute (bpm), but the average was only 119 bpm.  The total distance ridden was 17.3 miles and Garmin thinks I burned about 1,202 calories in the process.  Calories, distances, heart rates, elevation changes,… What I really had was a nice, easy, pleasant ride with four very amiable fellow cyclists.  It was great.  We will ride at 6:30pm next Wednesday (June 15) somewhere.  The starting point ( somewhere in Llano County ) will be posted on the Lake Buchanan – Inks Lake Chamber of Commerce Blog  sometime Monday.  Come join us.