…and he does it very well.
Ever since the First Annual Fall Finale Forty-Mile Country Path Ramble
, Paul (Doohickie
) and I have traded the occasional email about his coming up to join me for a country ride. Paul couldn’t make Fall Finale, so we’ve been looking for another opportunity. It took a national holiday, but obstacles were finally overcome.
We have several route options up here in Denton County, but it seems Paul wanted a no-compromise country ride. He selected the Strada Biancha
loop. So when we weren’t pausing for photos, or listening to the breeze, we were bombing up and down rolling countryside with a certain crunchiness beneath our tires.
I like it when my guests seem to be enjoying themselves.
There are no mountains in Denton County, but some of these humble hilltops afford pleasant views.
Paul brought a cool Raleigh sport touring bike. His tires were half the width of mine, but he made that machine glide over the gravel. The man has skills and strength. He powered up the hills in his big ring all day long. If he ever gets wider tires, he’ll need a stronger riding partner. I was pretty much spent at the end.
Paul seizes a photo opportunity while I find a shade, down some water, and catch my breath.
Thanks for coming up and riding with me, Mr. Doohickie. You are welcome up here on the prairie anytime.
Dawdling early Sunday ride.
Stopping in the shade, sipping coffee.
Greeting the Almighty Creator,
awestruck by His glory.
Birds sang His praise,
and grateful cows nibbled the pasture.
As a country cyclotourist, baggage is handy. The desire for certain contingency supplies, and selected luxuries, trump the need to travel as light as possible. Pleased with the set-up for most excursions, I paused to appreciate.
Oh yeah, it’s Memorial Day weekend. That means the heat switch has been toggled to the “on” position, and I have begun to take my breaks in the shade.
I’ve been looking for a gravel loop. Since it is unlikely I’ll ever travel to Italy to participate in L’Eroica (which has fascinated me since I first heard of it), I wanted something near home to give me a taste of it. The route to Muenster that I found last fall is one fine example. Today I found another one.
Most of my routes are paved county roads with a few gravel pieces thrown in here and there. Waide Road
is very near my little house on the prairie, and it’s gravel. Until today, however, I’ve only done out-and-back rides on it. Out-and-back rides are okay, but loops are preferable.
This morning, I spent a little time studying a map, and defining a loop route back home from the western limits of Waide Road. It ended up looking like this…
As it turns out, this loop is mostly gravel, with a few short pieces of pavement tossed in. My estimate is 80% gravel and 20% paved.
There were some dark clouds early. They provided a stark contrast with the white gravel and green pastures. The occasional tree canopy provided a stark contrast to the wide open spaces. Pedaling along through the constant changing terrain and light patterns was visually refreshing.
No, it’s not Italy, but it is my little taste of strada biancha (white road), and it is quite fine.
I noted Steve’s comment to my last post. He’s right. The time for north Texas wildflowers is running out for this year. Steve, this might not be the ultimate north Texas wildflower post, but it is a sampling what I found out there early Sunday morning.
North Texas is a pretty good place to be right about now.
There are more things going on that directly affect me than my brain can process lately. It’s like juggling too many balls. I’m limited in that way. Not proud of it, that’s just the way it is. I can usually hold it all together for a few days. But then I must decelerate.
I steal away for a couple of hours. The rolling landscape eases by, the wildflowers bow to the wind, and I can focus on the simple activity of making pedals go ’round in circles. My brain can process that, and I can return to a place where everything makes sense again.
Sometimes climbing can be a struggle. Sometimes, as effort increases, pace decreases, and bringing the pedal over the top of each stroke is a deliberate and determined act of will. There are others times, however, in which climbing is satisfying work. It is a task with more than ample rewards.
The north Texas prairie grass is about knee-high now, and spring winds move across it in waves. Like an eager surfer, I look over my shoulder and see the swell rise hundreds of yards away. I see it approach before I feel it, and anticipate the exact moment the gust will arrive and thrust me forward.
In more tranquil times, I keep a steady rhythm. But instead of counting each monotonous revolution of the crank arms, I count the colors of wildflowers growing along the road.
After a long wet winter, and a somewhat soggy early spring, Homer was finally washed up. It seemed like a great time to try those highly-praised Hetre tires. They DO seem to roll nicely, but the extra width means I’m going to need to get used to a little slower handling.
It seems like maybe he’s standing just a little prouder today…
“…my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
-God (2 Chron. 7:14)