Recipe for Contentment

Ingredients

  • refreshingly cool fall day (just before sunrise is ideal)
  • hot coffee
  • a place of quiet solitude and contemplation
  • bike (simple is good)
Directions

Blend ingredients in proportions to satisfy personal tastes, and let simmer for an hour. Serve immediately and enjoy.

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Why Am I Smiling?

Because the Fourth Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble is less than one month away! Since I normally ride alone, the possibility that others might come join me for my personal annual tradition makes me eagerly anticipate this ride each year.

When

This year’s Ramble will be on Saturday, December 15. We will roll out of my driveway at 10am. That means you should arrive in time to make all needed preparations before 10am.

What

The Ramble is a ride I do each year on a Saturday near the very end of autumn. The primary objective is to spend a few hours riding a bicycle with others on rural north Texas roads.  A goodly fraction of the route is on gravel roads. Historically, it has been a little over 40 miles, but this year (because of a route change), it could be closer to 50 miles. See prior Ramble reports for a little more insight (2011, 2010, and 2009)

I actually have two route possibilities, and they are both close to 50 miles. Final route selection has not been made yet, and might ultimately be made based on the weather forecast (I generally like to avoid ending my rides with headwind slogs).

Speaking of weather, I always want folks to know that I’m not hard-core.  I can ride if it is a little cold, or a little drizzly, but I don’t like cold and wet.  On days like that, I will send you on your way with a cue sheet and my best wishes, and then spend the rest of my day by the fireplace.

The pace is what I call “conversational” because I think of this as a social kind of ride.  We might stop for snacks, photographs, or just because.  Like last year, I plan to have cue sheets available for those who might wish to ride faster or slower than me.

The other thing to emphasize for this ride is that you are responsible for you. This is not a T-shirt ride, there are no entry fees, and no sag services. Both routes have at least one place to stop for restroom, water, or snacks.  On one route that opportunity comes at approximately mile 19, and on the other route it comes at approximately mile 25. You should have a back-up plan for a mechanical problem, and beware…some areas on the Ramble route do not have cell phone service.  Yes, it’s rural.

Who

Anyone who is interested in being a part of what is described above is welcome to participate. If you plan to join me, I would appreciate an email message or a blog post comment telling me that you will be here.  My preparation plans are dependent on the number of folks participating, so please help me with this. 

Where

If you need my address and/or directions to my little place on the prairie, send me an email.

How

Plan ahead. If this Ramble thing sounds like a good time, block out the day and get it on your calendar now. Then make your contingency plan in case you can’t finish the route for any reason. Finally, let me know you are coming.

Any questions?

Elm Bottom Circle

This seemed as good a place as any to pull my two chocolate-topped cake donuts from my gravel dust encrusted Carradice bag. I had stopped at the donut shop in Sanger and packed a little snack to compliment my thermos of coffee before making my way down to Elm Bottom Circle. The morning was cloudy and blustery. With the 20-30 mph winds and color frosted vegetation, the world seemed restless in anticipation of the season’s next cold front.

Elm Bottom Circle is a actually more triangle-shaped than circular, but does basically connect FM 428 at two points.  In between those two points, it drops down close to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River downstream of Lake Ray Roberts. My looped route descended toward the southeast and into the wind, and the climb back home was eased with a furious tailwind. I had figured that there might be some relief from the wind in the bottomlands, but even here, I was forced to hook my handlebar over the barbed wire to keep the bike from blowing over.

So I sat there on the slope of a roadside ditch, licking chocolate off my fingers, sipping coffee, and watching the bright-colored leaves rain sideways to the earth. And nobody else came by on Elm Bottom Circle.