Sunday, March 22, 2015

Steam N Wheels

March 21, 2015
Abilene, Texas
The annual race/fun ride that inspires one to start working out in January to prepare for this event. If 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in your age group, it is a race. If you come in 4th or more, it is a fun ride. One cannot lose.
 One may not lose, but you take a gamble on what the weather will be on that day. This time we had temperatures in the low 50's and sprinkles most of the day. Above is one of the parking lots we used as a warm up area. I didn't get warm though, just chilled. On fairer ride days of the past this overflow lot is full of riders' cars.
 Ready to go was Jerry Middleton from San Angelo. Besides Christine and myself, there were only two others, Bill Cullins and Dionne Hoelsken, from San Angelo.  
 Christine all bundled up before the ride. Jerry in the background was placing his bicycle in a convenient place for someone to steal it. He had no such luck so he was forced to ride.
 A lonely stretch of the road close to the beginning of the ride. One can see the wet pavement and over-cast day but not the temperature from the picture.
 I must confess early on that I was wearing thick gloves and could not easily turn the camera on or off. So I have a lot of blooper shots.
 The road is deceiving as it is a false flat. For the first 20 miles, the route is a slight and steady incline interspersed with low rollers.
 Rest stop 1. Couldn't come soon enough. Jerry was still waiting for someone to steal his bike and placed it by a sign. He looked for some "For Sale" letters, but no luck. He was going to be forced to complete the ride. I have to correct myself on the number of riders from San Angelo. Christine mentioned that they met Mr. White from San Angelo at this rest stop. He indicated to them that he may start riding with us on our routine group rides.
 About mile 31 it stopped sprinkling. I passed a lady and remarked that the rain had stopped and if the wind would reverse direction and push us along, I would not have anything to gripe about. She retorted that she would! Her toes were cold!
 TOES? My toes were so cold that they went numb and that is why I had forgotten and failed to mention them in my wishful thinking. When I think about it, my fingers were cold, my face felt frostbitten, my ears were sagging from ice cycles, and my butt was getting numb.
 But I kept pedaling.
 Christine's story: Well, dear readers, nobody likes to hear about cold toes, fingers, noses, ears, cheeks, sweaty but cold spandex, and rain drops dripping from the helmet, so I won't bother you with such details. And thank you, Jerry, for letting me draft behind you at a critical time.
 Off in the distance, another roller. All said and done, one cannot complain about the terrain too much as we only had a 1,827 feet elevation change over the 48 miles.
 Rest stop 2. Start of the last leg. All "down hill from here"--except for the constant inclines with seemingly no reciprocal decline.
 Finish line and coming up on the staging area. For those who are curious, yes, I was 1st place in my age category. Wasn't all that great of an accomplishment, all I had to do was complete the course, upright, and under my own power.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pedal Through The Pines

 Pedal Thru The Pines
March 14, 2015
Smithville, Texas
Smithville is a small town just outside of Bastrop which is near Austin. "Pedal Thru the Pines" has been starting from the Smithville Park for several years now. We used to pedal through the pines until a wild fire swept through miles of ranchland and decimated the forest of unusually isolated stands of loblolly pines. The ride, however, is still one of our favorites, and we try to attend each year. They have 24, 40, and 70 mile rides. This year we chose the 40 mile ride.
 The 70 milers lined up first and were ready to go.
 We lined up with the more laid back crowd several "blocks" back. I did not get a count but I would estimate 850 or more showed up. We arrived early and yet we had to park close to the last row of cars in a large field.
It was brisk with a NNE wind at about 15 mph. However, as the sun kept rising, it became a pleasant day.
The first part of the ride was into the wind but with long stretches of flat terrain and interspersed rollers. 
Country church behind rest stop #1.
The pattern of flat roads and upcoming rollers continued.
There was one steep hill before the first rest stop that topped out at 12%. The rest were 6% or less.
Rest stop #2 was at Serbin. We hope to talk more about Serbin in a later story.
This picture was added to show that it was not all into the wind. As indicated by the Texas flag, we were about to go with the wind.
A long stretch before another roller.
The lady in blue had some loud music playing with a fast tempo. I discovered that if one kept cadence with the beat, one would be traveling 20-21 mph. It was fun for a while but somewhere up ahead we came upon another roller. She continued her cadence, I didn't.
Winchester--rest stop 3. Note at this time we were in a cross wind. No problem, much easier than a head wind.
Methodist church beside rest stop 3. 
Nice scenery with one exception. The wild flowers were still sparse at this time. We spied a few Indian Paint Brush, and the Bluebonnets were just beginning to peek through the grass.
This decline doesn't look like much at this point. However, we had doubled back on the outbound route so this was the 12% hill mentioned previously. Christine hit over 40 mph. I, being ever cautious, braked frequently and held it down to just over 30 mph. Memo to self--I heard my brakes squeaking so I need to get them checked out.
The turn off to get to the Smithville Park and the finish line. The lane winds back under the road and up into the park on the left. 
If one had an appetite after all of the goodies at the rest stops, Larrie's BBQ was available. The chopped beef sandwich was a fitting finale for a great, fun ride. Thanks Family Crisis Center and all of the friendly volunteers who put together the outstanding event.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine
September 30, 2014
Bar Harbor was a colorful and interesting place. 
One could just walk around town and the harbor and have a good time.

I was looking forward to see the changing of the colors. Years ago when we lived in Maryland and I worked downtown Washington, D.C., Christine and I traveled the east coast to Mystic, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, just to see the changing of the colors. Although it was a good trip, we missed the big show of colors. Upon return, the following week, as I drove through Rock Creek Park (D.C.), the trees were spectacular. I thought, "duh." But, I don't think we would have cancelled the trip even had I known that a better show was in my back yard.
So on this tour, I concentrated on getting as many shots as I could of the beautiful trees--and landscape. 
The quaint main street.
Most of the pictures speak for themselves so there will not be a need for a lot of commentary.
Most of the following pictures are from Acadia National Park.


 Thunder Hole
 Water will recede with the roll of the ocean.
 But when the waves come back and hit the end of the tunnel, the sound is awesome--hence--Thunder Hole.

 Tour over, I stepped out on the balcony of the ship to see the sights just off our railing.
As I stood there, a small ship sailed by and made the scenery even more tranquil. One could spend his whole vacation at Bar Harbor and go back home relaxed.