Single Cup of Coffee Survival

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My posterior was only inches above the grass, and the hand of the wind rocked my hammock back and forth like a mother’s hand on a cradle. The leaves of the mesquite tree flittered in early light with long shadows reaching toward the southwest. As my eyes studied the knarled bark on the tree, their lids surrendered to the lullaby and dropped shut.

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Planning a sunrise breakfast in a cool lake breeze, I had rolled out at 5am. In such perfect conditions and contentment, a short nap seemed the logical next step.

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I arrived a few minutes before the sun came up and found a lonely spot in a picnic area with a couple of nicely spaced trees.

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It proved to be a pleasant spot to prepare breakfast, brew some coffee, and practice some advanced hammock lounging.

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It was the first time I’ve tried to fry eggs on the Trangia stove. I need to work on my technique and presentation, but they tasted pretty good.

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Since I brought enough fixins for more than just coffee (and Pop Tarts, of course), my table was a delightful mess.

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Fortunately, the hammock trees and picnic table were oriented perfectly to allow me to set up my tarp so that it provided shade on the only side I needed shade…and I had perfect lake-cooled ventilation.

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Since I didn’t plan well and ran out of fuel, I had to settle for a single cup of coffee. But, as you know from reading this blog, I’m quite a rugged fellow, well-acquainted with hardship. Yes, it was a fearsome situation and panic almost got the best of me, but I managed to survive it.

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So I had me some paved roads, gravel roads, several miles of pedaling in the dark, breakfast outside at dawn, and a short hammock nap. I conquered the north Texas summer heat. I managed to do all that and make it home before lunch on a single cup of coffee. Epic, dude.

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Free Puppy

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Mrs. Pondero says, “There are no free puppies!” Which means, of course, that they are only free until they get home. Then those little buggers get quite expensive, what with all that vet stuff, food, gear, training, and other special needs. They all have special needs.

I probably should have thought about that when one of her bee-keeping friends asked if I wanted this old bike before it is trashed. She might as well have said, “Wanna free puppy?”

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Based on limited research, it appears to be a 1991 Trek 850 Antelope. I don’t think it was bottom-of-the-line, but it doesn’t appear to be anything special. The only reason I said yes is that I’ve been thinking about a old, cheap rigid frame MTB that I could play with and haven’t been able to pull the trigger…something with knobby tires…it would be kinda fun to have project bike..and, hey, I’ve got a parts bin that might allow me to get this thing running for free.

Did I really just say that?

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Maybe this stray needs a home, but honestly, I’m not sure I want to take this on. So I’m going to walk around and stare at it awhile to see if I can ponder a potential (cheap) project in there somewhere. If not, maybe it’ll be a donation.

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What I really need, is a visit from Jon Grinder. I have seen him take uncountable numbers of forlorn strays and turn them into fun, useful, interesting, and attractive bicycles. He has vision, creativity, and mechanical skills. He has the ability to see potential in a bicycle. I’ll bet if I were to describe what I wanted this bike to do, and turned him loose in my garage, he could walk out with a pretty play toy in one afternoon.

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So Jon, if you are out there, what do you say? Play with it, or find it another home?

As a matter of fact, I’d appreciate input from anyone interested enough to toss me some ideas. Project concepts…or someone else’s headache. Is there a logical way to make an intelligent decision on this?

Let me narrow the field slightly. It’s either a donation or a knobby tire MTB to ride in the yard or on the local (easy) trails kind of bike. I might try to recall my once impressive wheelie skills, but I don’t plan to take it over any sweet jumps. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get some free studded tires and ride it on the acreage ice during the winter?

What says the gallery?

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S24O – The Buddy Upgrade

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As compared to some of my recent S24O outings, this one was a definite upgrade. The key element was the presence of long time friend, Michael Stallings.

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I probably would have let this weekend slip through my fingers, but he proposed the trip and basically made it  happen.

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Since he drove his truck to the camp site, he also took the initiative to bring firewood and grilling food. My normal evening meal is finger food I stuff in my bag. Oh yeah, he cooked. All I had to do sit back and enjoy the view in one of the camp chairs he brought.

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It is obvious, but should be stated outright anyway…since I normally do these outings solo, I had a buddy this time to share the experience. Upgrade.

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He arrived at the park before me and selected the site.  If you read my previous account, In Search of a Breeze, you might remember that I sometimes make poor camp spot choices. He nailed it with this beautiful shady and breezy spot.

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I’ve known him for several years, but we haven’t spent much time together lately. It was a general life upgrade to catch up on all the family news, and compare spiritual ponderings.

IMG_5259 IMG_5261 IMG_5263 IMG_5265 IMG_5267Once fueled by breakfast, and energized by catch-up conversation, we packed up and did some riding. We cruised the park a while and ended up on some easy single track in the woods (how did I not get photos on the trails?!). When we parted, I still had an hour and a half ride back home to reflect on how much difference a buddy can make.  Best S24O of the year…so far.

 

A Few Enhancements

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It was just five hours of pedaling. There were no bizarre roadside encounters today. There was no hammock hanging or coffee brewing. No S24O this time. Conditions were unusually pleasant with light wind and an overcast sky to keep the heat in check. It was a good day to tick off some miles. It was, I guess, a sort of shakedown ride for a few recent enhancements. Just in time for summer.

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Newer honey saddle in place of the older, darkened green saddle. The old saddle was showing signs of age and it seemed a change in color might be fun.

Albatross bars in place of the drops. After further research (riding the Quickbeam with albatross bars consistently for a few weeks), and contrary to original thought, albatross bars are not the cause of my upper back/neck issues. Apparently, the pain that nudged me back to drops last time was a timing coincidence.

Ergon grips instead of the traditional cork. Using standard round grips without care, I can let the bar ends of an albatross bar work into that nerve groove in the middle of the wrist. That can cause some nagging discomfort. So having a wider support at the bar end seemed like a smart thing to try. These are the GC1 Biokork Ergon grips and they are designed for swept-back bars. Admittedly, they don’t have a traditional look (which I like) of the standard round cork grips, but they absolutely work. These grips are plush.

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There was also a hat upgrade. Riding for hours in the Texas sun with little-to-no shade can really raise my body temperature. I’ve been wearing a Tilley hat recently, which is a great hat, but perhaps not ideal for the hottest direct sun conditions. After pondering a little, it seemed finding a hat with a lighter color, more ventilation, and a wider brim would be more comfortable on the hottest days. That combination sounded like the familiar head wear of my ranching neighbors. All I needed to do was add a stampede string to keep the thing from blowing off my head. It still needs to be tested on a hotter day, but I can already tell it is an improvement.

Well summer is now here, and I guess I’m as ready as I as can be.

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Name a Bicycle?

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I can’t remember ever naming one of my bicycles. As far as I can recall, I’ve always referred to them by make, model, or color. The Rivendell. The Kogswell. The Trek. The Hilsen or the Quickbeam. The black, green, or orange bike. I once had a nice, custom race bike built for me by Carl Strong. It was light and fast. I called it the Ti bike.

For the most part, I don’t think in terms of naming my bikes. Although I have friends who name their bikes brilliantly, it generally doesn’t occur to me. I must admit, however, that the thought has crossed my mind. That fleeting thought usually goes through my head right after I see that one of my friends has come up with another perfect moniker. So I ponder a minute, don’t come up with anything clever, and drop it all together.

Today I was out taking my sweet time rolling through the countryside on my Quickbeam. I was sitting up, looking around, feeling the breeze, and listening to the birds sing. So I have no idea why the idea came into my head. But there it was…an idea for a name. If I ever decide to give my Quickbeam a name, I believe I might have come up with one that would be perfect on so many levels.

IMG_5128Pokey.

 

In Search of a Breeze

In which my prior week’s unrealistic anticipation leads me to all manner of spot-search silliness, and very little sleep…

It’s been a hot week in north Texas. It isn’t yet the truly hot stuff we’ll have next month, but it certainly was a strong signal that delightful spring weather is over. Normally, I’d probably wait until October to camp again, but I decided to try an experiment to see if it might be feasible to stretch my camping season another month or so. I’d be smart and find a camp site with a refreshing on-shore breeze.

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When I arrived at the camp ground at 7pm, all the sites I imagined in my prior week daydreaming episodes were already taken. My first camp site, the one I’m not even going to count, was stagnant. It didn’t even get off the bike before pedaling back to the ranger station to request a trade. My first true camp site was also a disappointment, but I tried to roll with the circumstances. I set-up my hammock in the path of the only moving air I could find, had my dinner, and retired as darkness took over. Lying sleepy in my hammock, I wondered when it would cool off enough to sleep. I also realized that it was after 10pm, the gate would be closed, and no new folks would be coming it to claim sites. I’m not sleeping anyway, so I could pack my things and move to a new site.

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The second site was about a mile and a half away. It was a treeless area on a sort of peninsula, but had a covered picnic table, and a strong breeze. I set up my hammock diagonally on the cover support columns above the picnic table. I enjoyed the coolness, the gentle rocking, and soon fell asleep. After awhile, the temperature had dropped and I pulled the sheet I brought in place of a sleeping bag over me. A little while later, I stirred from my sleep to eerie quietness. The wind had stopped completely. But since I was comfortably cool, I quickly went back to sleep. In another little while, I was blasted by wind gusts. It wasn’t a breeze. I was being buffeted by strong gusts. My hammock was swinging wildly. It was a little before 5am and I was lying awake thinking about how nice it would be to have a quieter place to sleep. I’m not sleeping anyway, so I could pack my things and move to a new site.

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So I performed my second camp pack up and move in darkness. I found an inland site not far from my original site, but at a higher elevation and a slight breeze. Since it was cooler now, and I was quite tired, finding a site with a couple of decent trees was my main objective. It was quiet, cool, with just the whisper of a breeze. I lost consciousness almost immediately and slept well until the sun came up and shined in my eyes. It was getting warm again and I started thinking of breakfast. Wouldn’t it be nice to have breakfast in a shady spot where I could see the water? I wasn’t sleeping anyway, so I could pack my things and move to a new site.

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I remembered a picnic spot I’ve used often for summer day trips. It has a nice shade, a water view, and a couple of good trees for hammock lounging. It was almost back to the camp site on the peninsula. My old reliable picnic site didn’t disappoint. It was the shade, view, and breakfast set-up convenience I was seeking. My breakfast wonderful, and I had finally found that lake shore breeze I had longed for all week. So I brewed one more cup of coffee, packed my things, and pedaled home.

IMG_4982I learned I CAN extend my camping season. It’s all about finding the right spot.

 

Open for Business

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I have decided to use this blog to make a major career announcement. I’ve been pondering this for quite awhile, but the Texas economy seems to be improving and I’m ready to make a decision. After so many years working for someone else, I’ve decided to open my own business. It’s a big step and I’m not ready to quit my day job, so I’ll start small and cautiously, working this new venture in my spare time. Even so, I’m very excited to hang my shingle and start my new consulting business.

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Pondero, Leisure Consultant

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As this big decision was being thoroughly pondered, I reviewed a few of my prior blog posts. I evaluated my skills and wondered whether I could be good enough. But as I lay in my hammock today, I felt that lake shore breeze flow between my toes. It put me in that delightful state of mind that is perfectly relaxed with no hint of boredom. That’s when it hit me…I’m really, really good at this. Please forgive my boldness, but…truly…I have a talent that must be shared with the world. Basically, its an obligation to society.

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So I’m Pondero, Leisure Consultant, specializing in bikes, hammocks, and coffee outside.

Leave me a message, and I’ll respond back…whenever I get around to it.

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