Fifth Annual & Friends

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In the last hour before rollout, there was breakfast tacos, coffee, and looking out the window at gloomy, foggy, and windy conditions. The conversation was casual and we were looking forward to facing the elements for a few hours. Before that, things were a little hectic.

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I was sliding along muddy roads in a reconn effort just after daylight. Factoring in the lingering ice, Friday’s rain, and the strong north winds, I had already virtually abandoned the intended route option for the Fifth Annual Fall Finale Country Path Ramble. It was the backup route now under investigation, and I didn’t like the look of it.

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The backup route was shorter and had only about 5 miles of non-paved roads. But those five miles were proving difficult going for my Honda Civic reconn vehicle. At first I figured, we could get off and walk the truely boggy sections. But those sections were long, numerous, and didn’t offer much in the way of alternative walking paths. So 90 minutes from rollout, I needed to come up with a backup to the backup.

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The good news was that I found an all paved route. It was a little shorter so we’d not need to stay out in the elements quite as long. When you host a ride for a several people, you learn that things take longer… than they do. The bad news was that it started south and the return trip would be the kind of slog I normally try to avoid.  Oh well.

My next concern was how to park the possible 20-30 vehicles on my soggy land.

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At one point during the lead up to the event, there were 30+ folks indicating that they planned to Ramble. By the night before, that number dropped down to 20+. Apparently, folks were finding attractive alternatives to driving an hour or more to experience cold, windy, mud. In the end, my scheming on how to park everyone on my long driveway and out of the low areas was not needed. There were only six who actually rolled out into the elements.

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And we Rambled across the countryside.

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We took our time, chatted, and stopped frequently for photos, a snack, or just to pause and take in our surroundings.

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Life was grand with that mighty tailwind. But the pace slowed even further when we made the turnaround. And that was okay, because we were Rambling.

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And Rambling means you can stop on the side of the road, pull out your thermos, and have a cuppa anytime you wish.

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At the end, its always about sharing the experience with friends that makes this ride so wonderful for me. I’m profoundly grateful to those who actually chose the Ramble alternative in less than ideal conditions.

The “Hardman” award goes to someone who taught us all a little something about what it means to “shut up and ride”. That would be my daughter, Lisa, who did the entire route on a single speed BMX bike she’s had since second grade.

IMG_3334I didn’t see a lot of photo taking going on, but if any of you participants want to submit images for the photo contest, you might want to read this for details.  Remember to get them to me by December 17.

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Ramble Weather Obsessing

drivewayThe ice coating is almost gone from the driveway, but today’s rain has added to the general sogginess.  I do have an alternative route.  It is mostly paved, but there are still a few miles of gravel roads.  If you want to ride, be willing to do some de-mud-ifying and walking.  And be willing to ride for an hour or two (or three depending on the final route selection) into a stiff cold wind.

Forecast calls for temps from 38-42 and wind from the north at 19mph.  Hahahahaha.

I know some of you sick freaks love this kind of stuff and will be here, and I’ll be right there with you…unless I decide to pour some coffee and check on the fireplace…

 

 

 

Ramble Forecast Update

In only 12 hours after my Ramble forecast post last night, the chance of rain for Friday has gone up from 30% to 70%.  That means a high probability of increased wetness on roads already wet with melting ice, and deteriorating conditions on significant portions of our gravel roads route options.  It also means that I am considering a back-up route plan that involves more paved roads and less (or no) gravel.

I’m still planning to ride on Saturday, but apparently a healthy dose of flexibility will be required.

Ramble Forecast

forecastWell, Ramble fans, the recent ice storm coupled with the current forecast suggests some interesting possibilities. Because I’d like to manage expectations for those who might be planning to invest a Saturday for this ride, it should be said that some of these possibilities could be inconvenient. Or everything could turn out to be almost ideal. Hard to say.

I will say that my that my 200-foot driveway is still completely covered in an almost solid slab of ice. Your usual parking space is covered in melting ice. I’ll also say that there is a chance of rain on Friday, but it has gone down from 60% at one point to 30% as of now. If the ice keeps thawing slowly, and it rains on Friday, my property will be rather soggy. Portions of the gravel roads we would ride would be rather soggy as well. Sogginess means your auto and/or your bike could look like my bike did on a recent ride on a soggy gravel road. Besides that, we might end up with unsightly ruts in our fine landscaped yard. Okay, the fine landscaped yard is a joke, but the unsightly ruts are not and neither is getting stuck in the mud. It also looks to be a little chilly with that NW wind (but manageable).

On the other hand, if the ice thaw soaks into the ground…and we get some sunshine and wind…and if it doesn’t rain on Friday…well…we might have reasonably firm ground to park on.  And the gravel will be un-dusty and mostly firm and pleasant to ride on.

All that to say I can’t promise things will work out as simple and easy as years past. I don’t want to discourage anyone from coming up to join me for a ride. But I do want you to be aware of the potential conditions. We might need to get creative with our parking arrangements. That means maybe lined up on my driveway to avoid mud.  And THAT means first in, last out.

I’m watching the weather closely. But I haven’t been out on the bike since Thanksgiving, so I’m going to try and ride somewhere…somehow. And you are welcome to join me.

 

Ramble (Ice Storm) Update

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Here in the midst of the Great Ice Storm of 2013, I am reminded of a few words I always include with my annual Ramble announcements…

“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.”

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What you see in the photos is not a charming light dusting of snow.  It is thick, solid coating of ice.  Fortunately, all prior Rambles have not included weather that prompted me to opt out and stay fireside, but this weekend is one example of weather that would.

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Instead, the current long range forecast for next Saturday is for a temperature range of 38-54, and only a slight chance of rain.  Things will probably change between now and then, but I’m hopeful we’ll be able to Ramble nicely as usual.

Oh yeah…in addition to the fact that you don’t want to get here late and be left behind, there’s another great reason to arrive early this year…

zRamble veteran, Eric Welborn (midcitiesbikeman) has hinted that he plans to bring some of his most excellent cold brew coffee.  Note I said cold BREW, not cold coffee.  His cold brew technique results in an amazingly smooth and flavorful coffee that I highly recommend.  Get here early and don’t miss out on this treat!

 

South Texas Thanksgiving Rides

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Mrs. Pondero and I traveled down to south Texas (Corpus Christi) to be with family over the holiday weekend. Oh yeah, and the bike came along. It was nostalgic to ride some of my old routes from 1996-1999 when we lived there.

Not wanting to spend too much time away from the main reason we were there, my rides weren’t long and involved early starts. Perfect coffee brew-up micro-tour opportunities. The first one was at an inland park…

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And the second was at the downtown bayfront…

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Things have changed a lot since 1999. Some of those changes have been discouraging. But I am thankful for many things that keep life pleasant and comfortable. Especially my family and my early morning excursions awheel.

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