Ramble Reconn 2014

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As is my usual practice, I pre-ride the anticipated Ramble route each year. Reconn for the 2014 version was today. Even with the event still 8 weeks away, it was important to check a few things. Not only have I moved the date from December to November, I’m also pondering a new route.

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The new route (if chosen) would combine features from past Rambles. It would include stops at the Greenwood Grocery (a popular burger stop for ride participants) and the Rosston General Store (with the wood stove, crooked and creaky wood floor, and famous Lone Star poster with the bicycle model)…(oh yeah, and the catfish heads on fenceposts that weren’t included on the route in the last two years would be back)..

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By including both amusing stopping points, the route would be longer. This route is about 51 miles, includes about 2370 feet of climbing, and is mostly gravel roads.

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The longer route would obviously take more time than past Rambles. Further, since the Ramble occurs on the last weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge,  I’m planning to stop somewhere long enough for a brew-up on the route.

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Daylight savings time ends on November 2, so we’ll have less afternoon/evening light. So more time required on the route means an earlier start. Unlike the 10am start of the recent versions of the Ramble, I’d roll out at 9am with the longer route.

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Let me summarize the changes I’m pondering for this year. New date (November 15, and that’s fixed), more miles, a little more climbing, two feature stops, a definite brew-up stop (for me at least), and starting one hour earlier.

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Would any of those changes make the event undoable for folks who are hoping to participate?

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I’m probably going with the new route, unless I get a preponderance of comments from folks who can’t manage the distance/time/earlier start.

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As you consider participation, don’t underestimate the wind in these wide open spaces or the challenge of riding large, chunky gravel in a few locations.

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All photos in this post were taken from today’s reconn ride. I had a delightful ride and think most participants would enjoy the new route.

Oh, I almost forgot, Nick (Rosston store owner) told me today that the Lone Star poster model came by for a visit recently. He said she plans to stop by again sometime in November. I’m not going to say that the celebrity would be there when the group arrives, but you never know.

IMG_6647If you haven’t blocked out ALL DAY for the Sixth Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Fifty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble on Saturday, November 15, do it NOW! More details forthcoming.

 

Coffeeneuring and More

photo (13)You might say I’ve been training for an entire year. If one were to look back on my blog posts since this time last year, accounts of numerous bicycle outings involving coffee would be found. I’ve been an active member of the Association of Caffeinated Wheelmen since the enamel pins were first made available. I followed with fascination the first three years of fall season coffeeneuring. But this year will be my first attempt at coffeeneuring myself.

Last year’s introduction of the “coffee shop without walls” rule was a game changer for me. I plan to take full advantage of this rule. Living in a rural area, it would be quite a time and distance challenge for me to ride to (desirable) coffee shops with walls. The photo above, taken at a Starbucks in Gainesville, Texas required a 50 mile round trip. The closest real coffee shop is about 8 miles from my house.

Coincidentally, the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge ends the same weekend as the Sixth Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble. So my guests can expect my ride on that Saturday will include a brew-up at some point along the way. This blog space will likely be filled with Ramble and Coffeeneuring Challenge updates between now and then…unless something else worth mentioning happens during my favorite time of year. And that could happen too.

More ‘sploring

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It was one of those forehead slap moments, when I realized there was a whole section in one of my local State Parks that I haven’t explored.

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So I set out early Saturday morning to see if I could find a nice new camping spot…or a spot for future coffee brew-ups.

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I did a fair amount of off road exploring and singletrack.

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I saw forested areas, open meadows, lake shore views.

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I found a lot of empty and quiet.

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And I did, if fact, find a nice place to camp.

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It had plenty of trees for hammock hanging, and a nice down slope view of an open meadow.

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So I practiced a micro-camp set-up to imagine what it might be like in a few weeks with cooler, more ideal, camping weather.

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Then I packed up and did a little more exploring in other areas.

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In addition to my coffee, I also brought lunch to extend my outing.

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I had more time AND more fuel.  That translates into more mellow singletrack for the country bike.

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In the end, I made my way back to a favorite lake overlook.

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There I had my lunch, another round of coffee, and more breezy hammock time.

22 23The long range weather forecast suggests a possibility of cooler temperatures next weekend.  I might be able to try the new spot sooner than I imagined.

 

 

Exploring Eisenhower State Park

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The forecast for today was HOT. Not wanting to spend several hours pedaling around and enduring the heat, I decided today would be best spent exploring future bike camping opportunities. It will cool down one day, and when it does, a wise man is prepared with places to go. Maybe Eisenhower State Park could work.

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I spent the first hour plus driving my pickup north and east toward Lake Texoma, which is a wide spot in the Red River and the border between Texas and Oklahoma. The bike, hammock, and coffee supplies came along to make exploration more fun.

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A lovely picnic area served as my base of operations. The truck was parked there and I set out to explore by bicycle.

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In the vicinity of the State Park, the lake is surrounded by steep rocky dropoffs to the water’s edge. This beach was one exception and appeared to be a popular water access location.

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I mostly explored the park roads, and sought out potential camping spots for future fall or winter camping. But I also found a few trails. Those near the lake shore were steep enough to require steps.

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The relative high ground around the lake made for pleasant views of the massive lake.

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I paused here to wave and say “howdy” to our neighbors on the other side in Oklahoma.

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I found some singletrack…

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I pedaled some and pushed a little.

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After convincing myself that this place is worth a future visit, I was satisfied to head back to base camp.

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There were plenty of shady and breezy spots for a hammock hang.

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It was time to practice my craft as a leisure specialist.

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Finally, a coffee brew-up to round out the experience.

IMG_6273 IMG_6287 IMG_6288 zI didn’t get many pedaling miles today. It was almost like an appetizer and I’m hungry for more. But I avoided heat punishment and prepared myself for cooler days. Ideal camping days are coming and it is very good to ready.

 

Portland Hospitality

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These photos are not adequate to tell the story. In my typical solo outings, I can think about photo opportunities, and take my time trying to get a decent shot, to help communicate the event. I learned, however, that being surrounded by friends is as distracting and it is delightful. So this post has only a few images from a gathering of the Sunrise Coffee Club, and nothing from the gathering at Velo Cult the evening before.

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Following up on some casual conversation at the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour, I met up with Shawn Granton of the Urban Adventure League. He guided me to Velo Cult Bike Shop, where he had made prior arrangements for me to meet some of the locals. I could have spent hours gawking at their collection of bicycles. I even tried to take a few photos of their bikes, and the bikes of some of my new best friends, but the lighting resulted in underwhelming images. If I remember the round table correctly, there was Ryan, Heather, Vince, Chris, Coconut Bill, Shawn, and Andy. The conversation included past and current bike tours, comics, various bicycle components, French pronunciation, and more. Even though I was ribbed a bit for coming to Portland without a bicycle, I was welcomed into the group. I was as happy as an adopted stray puppy.

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At some point in the evening, I asked if the Sunrise Coffee Club was still active. This is an informal group of folks who meet occasionally at sunrise for a coffee outside social. Consistent with his personality, Chris seized the question as an opportunity to make magic happen. Within minutes, he had set the time and place, and had sent out digital media invitations. All I had to do was show up. Very cool.

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Andy and Chris were already there when I arrived. Eric showed up a few minutes later. So four of us enjoyed the early morning light, good coffee (and tea for Andy), and sharing the hard-to-explain bicycle/coffee connection. For me it was a genuine Portland experience burned into my brain.

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This delightful array of coffee and tea gear made me feel right at home.

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Chris serving me fresh ground pour over coffee. It was excellent in the cool morning air.

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Eric’s awesome Cooper custom.

IMG_5984 IMG_5985 IMG_5986 IMG_5987 IMG_5988If I recall correctly, the word “hospitality” has a root meaning of “love of strangers”. Thank you Shawn for setting this up (on the eve of your own bike tour), and thank you to my new friends in Portland for a lesson in hospitality. You guys are invited to the Sixth Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble on November 15. I know some of you guys are thinking about it. I hope I have a chance to return the favor.

Sixth Annual Ramble Date

IMG_3040ANNOUNCEMENT – Major schedule change for the Sixth Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble.

The 2014 version of the Ramble will be held on Saturday, November 15. This annual event has been traditionally held in mid December, usually at the end of Fall, on the Saturday before the winter solstice. I have learned, however, that optimum rambling conditions usually occurs in mid November here in northwest Denton County. So I’m trading tradition for what I hope to be a prettier and more comfortable ride for my guests.

Here are a few links to help describe what this is all about…

Version 2013 – Tough weather, low turnout

Version 2012 – Great weather, great group

Version 2011 – The original route

I hope you veterans will block out the day on your calendar, and help me get the news of the date shift out to your friends. I have some ideas for other event enhancements that I’ll detail later.  I’ll also have more information to help new folks decide whether to participate. For now, the message is “save the date”.  Oh yeah, and it is free, starts/ends at my house northwest of Sanger, Texas, and all are invited.

It’s typical August hot out there and I’m planning for the cooler air we usually enjoy on the Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble.  Join me!

 

 

“A Good Stout Horse Between My Knees”

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a glorious early August morning

I wish I was more clever. Then I’d be able to add background music for this post. If I could do that, it would be the Marshall Tucker Band’s song, Desert Skies. When I get away for an overnight camping trip, pedaling along and hanging out at camp feels like this song to me. So, if you’ve plenty of time, you might want to click that link, and play it in the background while you scroll through a few photos from my latest S24O. Listen for the title of this post in the lyrics.

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a setting sun makes the opposite bank glow

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all set up and ready for dinner

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an oasis of shade trees

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straw hat satisfaction

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predawn light

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contrast in texture and color

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fiery sky

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relaxing water view

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spider hammock

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lakeside gold

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looking out, or looking in?

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okay, perfect, time for breakfast

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#coffeeoutside

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@pondero

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camp lounge lollygagging

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new life

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time to pack up

19pondering my good fortune